|About the Site|
|Sequoia National Park|
Giant Forest Grove
Giant Forest Grove is located in the western portion of the park on the slopes of the Sierras at approximately the 6000 foot level. It contains some of the largest trees on earth, remnants of the days of dinosaurs. Some of these trees, which usually coexist in groves with other species of trees, can be seen in the picture below. Twenty of the 37 largest sequoias in existence grow in Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks.
Although the trees are massive, sequoia wood is relatively light and brittle. It often shatters when the tree falls, a factor which played no small role in preventing even more of the trees from having been cut before they were preserved in a national park.
It is often many feet up to even the lowest limb of the largest trees, as the lower limbs typically die for want of sunlight. The root system of these giants is surprisingly shallow, often going down only 3 to 6 feet. The trees depend on balance to remain standing, which explains how straight many of these trees grow.
The Generals Highway runs through the Giant Forest Grove. In many places the two lane highway is dwarfed by the enormous trees which grow right next to the edge of the road. Happily for the sequoia, the bark, which may be as thick as 2 feet, is a poor conductor of electricity, lessening the likelihood the tallest trees will be struck and damaged by lightning.
Fire, the enemy of many forests, is actually an essential ingredient in the growth and survival of sequoias. The mature sequoia is quite resistant to fire, but fires clear and prepare the soil of the forest floor for the growth of sequoia seedlings and open the forest canopy to allow light to reach the young trees. The heat of fire also causes the sequoia cone to release its seeds.
Giant Forest Village & Lodgepole
There are several areas within the park where a variety of services for visitors are provided. Giant Forest Lodge is located in one of the larger groves of sequoia trees in the park. This lodge contains an 83 room motel motel, 160 rustic cabins, and a restaurant, in the midst of some of the largest trees in the world.
Some of the cabins can be seen in the background of the picture below. Although this lodge has been in place for many years its existence within the redwood grove itself has been deemed destructive to the redwoods; the lodge and visitor facilities are currently being relocated 5 miles to the north in the Clover Creek area.
Another picture of the lodge area is shown here
Behind the lodge lies the picturesque Round Meadow, encircled by sequoias and other trees.
In the early days of the park Round Meadow was the center of visitor activity. Stock was grazed in the meadow and often tents covered the area. Much has changed since then, and in the late spring, covered by snow, the meadow has reclaimed much of its natural beauty.
This same meadow is pictured below in the fall from a slightly different perspective, before the snows of winter have begun to fall.
A center for visitor services is the Lodgepole area which lies just to the north of the Giant Forest along the Generals Highway. The facility is pictured below. It contains a visitor's center, nature center, deli, restaurant, ice cream shop, store, gift shop, and a number of other facilities.
Other Trees and Vegetation
Besides the famous sequoias, a variety of different trees and plants grow in the park. These include Ponderosa pine, sugar pine, red fir, and foxtail pine. The ideal climatic conditions allow many species to reach far greater size in this area than anywhere else on earth; for example, lodgepole pines may reach 100 feet, sugar pines 200 feet, and whitebark pines 80 feet.
Some trees, such as the white fir, are covered by lichen, but it rarely grows on sequoias.
The green of the lichen contrasts with the typical cinnamon color of the sequoia, causing the giants to stand out even more.
In Sequoia there are no tall trees which grow above an altitude above 9,000 feet, and no trees at all beyond the park's treeline at 11,000. In low, dry areas of the park yellow pine and incense cedar grow; along the slopes of the mountains, below 7000 feet, white fir and sugar pine predominate, above 7000 feet red fir and Jeffrey pine, and above 8000 feet western white pine replaces sugar pine in the forest.
In the foothills at low altitudes in the western portion of the park black oak, chaparral, and manzanita can be found. In the picture below the area around the Kaweah River can be seen.
Wildflowers can be also be found throughout the park. Below is an example of Queen Anne's Lace.
Another wildflower found in the park is the familiar mountain daisy.
More wildflowers can be seen below, in this case some asters, common in this and other national parks.
The butterfly below is seen perched on a specimen of sneezeweed.
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