Those magnificent trees helped inspire the 1864 act that protected the grove and Yosemite Valley, sowing the seeds for the national park idea. A century and a half after that landmark legislation, however, human development had made a profound impact on the trees and their habitat. Paved roads, parking lots and heavily trodden trails fragmented the grove’s wetlands, diverting water and threatening the sequoias’ long-term health.

In 2014, with support from Conservancy donors, the park broke ground on a multiyear project to restore Mariposa Grove, with the goal of preserving a natural wonder and enhancing the experience of visitors for generations to come.

To ensure visitor safety during the major restoration work, Mariposa Grove closed in July 2015 for a temporary period. Throughout the closure, trail and habitat crews transformed the grove by pulling out pavement, planting native flora, and building new trails and boardwalks. Volunteers and youth program participants played a role, too, by helping with activities such as removing social trails or collecting seeds for future planting.  Not far from the grove, a construction crew created a new arrival plaza at the South Entrance, where visitors can now park, get an introduction to the sequoias, and take a shuttle up to the trees.

The grove reopened to the public in June 2018. Key elements of the restoration include:

  • Removing asphalt from the original parking lot and roadways, and transforming formerly paved areas into sustainable pedestrian trails and healthy sequoia habitat
  • Creating an accessible trail system in the lower part of the grove, including boardwalks over sensitive wetland areas
  • Improving accessibility around two iconic giant sequoias, the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree
  • Developing new educational signs and exhibits focused on the grove’s natural and human history
  • Completing repairs and new stonework at Wawona Point, the overlook above the grove, to create a safer, more enjoyable visitor experience
  • Replacing and repairing culverts to encourage natural water flow
  • Building a new arrival plaza at the South Entrance, complete with parking, restrooms, shuttle, hydration stations and the Yosemite Conservancy Depot, where visitors will be able to purchase books, apparel and other retail items

Thanks to your support, this historic project has restored the grove into a healthy, vibrant home for the sequoias, and for the diverse plant and animal species that thrive in the snowmelt-fed habitat. With Mariposa Grove now reopened to visitors, we are all be able to experience the majesty of the sequoias in an awe-inspiring, tranquil setting that reflects the importance of this treasured place as the cradle of the national park idea.

Watch the “CBS This Morning” feature on the Mariposa Grove project:

Want to learn more about the Mariposa Grove restoration project and opening? Read the blog.

by Charles Cramer.
Hundreds of mature sequoias live in Mariposa Grove. These awe-inspiring trees started as tiny seeds, and grew over centuries into towering giants. When you visit the grove, see if you can spot spindly sequoia seedlings on the forest floor, too!
by Yosemite Conservancy/Al Golub.
On June 14, 2018, Yosemite Conservancy and the National Park Service celebrated the restoration of Mariposa Grove at a special dedication ceremony.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling.
By May 2018, native plants were starting to take hold in a restored area near the famed Fallen Monarch.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Gretchen Roecker.
The same spot, just over a year later (July 2019): Lush vegetation is flourishing after years of careful ecological restoration work.
by Yosemite Conservancy & Keith Walklet.
Then and now: The trail to the celebrated Grizzly Giant before (inset) and after restoration.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling.
Then and now: The area around the roots of the Fallen Monarch before (inset) and after restoration.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet.
Then and now: The area beside the Fallen Monarch before (inset) and after a road was replaced with a habitat-friendly boardwalk.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling.
Then and now: The former parking area near the lower entrance to Mariposa Grove, before (inset) and after crews removed pavement and relocated parking to the new Welcome Plaza.
by Courtesy of NPS.
Then and now: A popular area in the lower part of Mariposa Grove, before (inset) and crews removed a paved road and restored habitat.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet.
Educational elements throughout the restored Mariposa Grove, including this bronze sculpture of a Pacific fisher, offer opportunities to learn more about the sequoia ecosystem.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet.
A cross-section of a fallen giant sequoia and other educational exhibits invite visitors to learn about sequoia ecology and the history of Mariposa Grove at the new Welcome Plaza, near Yosemite's South Entrance.
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling.
Bright red snowplants emerge in Mariposa Grove in the spring, offering a vibrant splash of color to the already breathtaking sequoia scenery.

Sue Beatty

Restoration Ecologist

Project Notes

This project was a dream come true. The Mariposa Grove was needing some tender loving care for many years. I can already see the transformation occurring as we pull out asphalt and infrastructure from the roots of the trees. The grove will be returned to a reverential experience for many people.