Sequoia National Park transports you away from a busy world into a shrouded forest nestled with tall and ancient giant sequoia trees. After my attempted visit to Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks in July 2014, I finally returned and completed the trip in July 2015 with my kids and my sister’s family. Then I got to go again in April 2016 with friends from college and my husband, Dave. Both visits left me in awe by the sheer magnificence of this beautiful National Park.
Seeing the above pictured General Sherman Tree in person made both trips worth it!
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Sequoia National Park is home to the General Sherman Tree – The world’s largest single stem tree on record
The main attraction for visiting Sequoia National Park is located in the Giant Forest. According to Wikipedia, the General Sherman tree, named after William Tecumseh Sherman by James Wolverton, is currently on record as the largest single stem tree on the earth. Larger trees have been historically found near Trinidad, CA, but were later cut down or felled by storms. Because both larger trees were found there, it is possible (and rumored) that a larger tree than Sherman exists deep within that ancient forest. However, to date, General Sherman holds the measured record as the world’s largest tree.
Sequoia National Park has set up a protective walkway around the General Sherman Tree in order to better protect the delicate root system of this ancient giant. Because of that, it is easier to see the grand perspective of the size of the General Sherman Tree when photographed from a distance.
These photographs of General Sherman are all a matter of perspective. The farther away from the object you are (and closer to the camera), the larger you appear – like covering the moon with your thumb!
That said, up close photographs are also a highlight of visiting Sequoia National Park – intimate shots as well as group shots! In July, however, you will likely have to wait in line to get your group shot due to large crowds.
How do you measure the world’s largest tree?
The General Sherman Tree, located in Sequoia National park, is not the world’s widest tree (though the tree width is quite impressive at a maximum diameter of 36.5′).
Since you can’t walk to the base of the General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park has made it quite easy to visualize the width of the base of Sherman. They created a replica of the trunk in this pathway!
In addition to not being the world’s widest tree, General Sherman also does not hold the record for the world’s tallest tree (current height as of this writing – 274.9 ft. above the base). The tallest tree on record to date is the Coast redwood Hyperion Tree which measured 380.3 ft. as of this writing.
So how DO you measure the world’s largest tree? It all comes down to the total estimated volume of the tree – height, width, and tapered thickness in the trunk and branches.
How accessible is the Giant Forest and the General Sherman Tree at Sequoia National Park?
Sequoia National Park has done a magnificent job making access to these giant trees possible.
Wide, paved walking paths are available and you could easily push a wheel chair, though some sections higher up on the path area little steep.
There are two ways to get to the Giant Forest and The General Sherman Tree. One – come in on 180 through King’s Canyon National Park. Upon entering King’s Canyon, turn right and head south on General’s Highway. Two – you can also enter from the south on 198 via Three Rivers. Then head north through the park on General’s Highway.
There is a handicapped parking lot at the bottom of the Giant Forest. It is close to a tunnel carved out of a giant fallen sequoia tree. Another larger parking lot can be found off of Wolverton Rd.
There are shuttle buses during the summer time that go between both lots. We parked at the top parking lot and then hiked down through the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park. At the bottom of the hike, the kids were tired. So, we hopped into the shuttle and rode back up to where our car was parked. It was super simple.
What else does Sequoia National Park have to offer me?
While General Sherman is the main attraction of Sequoia National Park, you can see many other beautiful things.
The above pictured old sequoia tree looked like an old man with a really large nose to me!
Some of the “smaller” giant sequoia trees were more accessible and we could actually walk up to them.
While these giant sequoias pale in comparison to Sherman, they are still quite spectacular all on their own.
Sequoia National Park offers beautifully maintained hiking trails. In addition to these giant wonders, Sequoia National Park also has an amazing museum which we loved. There is also a tunnel carved out of a tree that you can drive your car through!
Sequoia National Park is beautiful throughout the year
Visiting Sequoia National Park in April offered a wet mist with vibrant green new growth.
The dense canopy filtered the rain and mist. It felt like walking through a cloud most of the time.
In contrast, going in July created perfectly tempered weather with the higher elevation and shade. It proved to be a great way to escape the Valley heat.
Always check the park website for the current weather conditions and possible road closures.
Well that’s all! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Sequoia National Park and that you can visit it yourself one day! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!
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