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 (seedling and mature sequoias).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Al Golub (Mariposa Grove dedication, June 2018).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling (restored habitat, May 2018).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Gretchen Roecker (restored habitat, July 2019).
by Yosemite Conservancy & Keith Walklet (Grizzly Giant Trail).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling (Fallen Monarch area).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet (Fallen Monarch boardwalk).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling (restored parking area).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet (Welcome Plaza exhibits).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Keith Walklet (Pacific fisher sculpture).
by Yosemite Conservancy/Josh Helling (snowplants and sequoias).

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.