Mariposa_Grove

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest and most popular of Yosemite’s
three major Sequoia Groves. It contains several of the most famous Giant Sequoias,
including the Fallen Monarch (made famous by an 1899 photograph of the 6th Cavalry
posing with their horses on its massive trunk), the Grizzly Giant (the oldest and second
largest tree in the Mariposa Grove), and the California Tunnel Tree in the lower grove.

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Mariposa

A 75 image Overview of the Yosemite Portfolio

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Discovery View (Wawona Tunnel View) and Valley View
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The exquisitely beautiful Mirror Lake in Tenaya Canyon
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An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Yosemite National Park’s two most famous rim views
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An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Mule Deer in the Valley meadows, Hummingbirds, Steller’s Jays, etc.
Golden-Mantled Squirrels, Ground Squirrels and a Tioga Pass Marmot

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Images from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Images from nearby Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks
Lupines, Dogwood, Snow Plants, Thistle, Forest Moss and Lichen

50 images of the gold mining boom town north of Mono Lake
A highly saline lake in the Eastern Sierras with otherworldly scenery
A Cigar Store Indian, a Thunderbird Totem, and antique Farm Machinery

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Mariposa Grove Entrance 2654
(868 KB)

Near the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, five miles southeast of Wawona. First described in 1849, the measurements of the trees and the story were considered a tall tale, even though they were being told by the Mariposa Sheriff, Major Burney. The first exploration of the grove was by Galen Clark in 1857.

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Mariposa Grove Entrance 3030
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Originally called the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, it was named after Mariposa County by Galen Clark, the first Guardian of the Yosemite Grant. Giant Sequoias had only recently been discovered in the Calaveras Grove (about 75 miles north, in 1852), and the Mariposa Grove became one of the major attractions drawing tourists to the area.

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Woodland Creek Mariposa Grove X2349
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An attractive little creek near the base of the Mariposa Grove.

The Mariposa Grove is the largest Sequoia grove in Yosemite, and contains
about 500 Giant Sequoias (two of which are among the 30 largest trees in the
 world). Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) were named for Seqouyah,
a Cherokee silversmith who was the only non-literate person to ever create an efficient
system of writing when he created a syllabary of the Cherokee language, making writing
and reading in Cherokee possible. A few miles southeast of Wawona, it was founded by
Galen Clark as Clark’s Station, and later renamed using the Southern Mono Indian name
for the Big Trees, Wah-who-nau, the sound of the Great Horned Owl which the Southern
Monos considered to be the guardian spirit and deity of these Monarchs of the Forest.

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Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove 2664
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A Giant Sequoia on a lower slope of the Mariposa Grove. It is hard to evaluate how big Giant Sequoias are from a distance as they are surrounded by other forest giants.

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Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove 3031
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A dramatic view towards the crown of a Giant Sequoia. When you get close to a Giant Sequoia, even a young one like this, the experience can be overwhelming.

Giant Sequoias are a species of Redwood which occur naturally only in groves of the
Western Sierra Nevada. The world’s most massive trees by volume, the largest grow
to more than 250 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter at the base. The oldest trees (which
are not necessarily the largest) can reach an age of 3500 years. Giant Sequoias are
protected from rot by the tannic acid in the bark and heartwood, and the thick bark is
 fire resistant. The trees have very shallow roots (3 to 6 feet) that can extend 100 to
150 feet (or more) from the tree, providing a stable base and gathering as much
as several thousand gallons of water per day. Mature trees produce thousands
of egg-shaped seed cones which are opened by fire or Douglas Squirrels.

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove 2680
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The Bachelor and Three Graces are a group of young Sequoias (only 750 years old or so) on the trail leading to the Grizzly Giant (the oldest tree in the Mariposa Grove).

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove 3083
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The Three Graces (left) grow adjacent to each other, and the Bachelor grows very close by. Their roots are so intertwined that if one tree fell it would take the other trees with it.

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Three Graces Mariposa Grove 3081
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The Three Graces (the Bachelor Tree is out of frame at right).

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove X0472
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The Three Graces and another young Sequoia nearby.

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove X0492
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The Bachelor (left) and Three Graces, with the nearby young Sequoia (shown in the previous image) in between.

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove X0497
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A dramatic view towards the crowns of the Bachelor and Three Graces, more than 250 feet overhead.

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Bachelor Three Graces Mariposa Grove X0492c
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A detail crop of the Bachelor and Three Graces resized down to 1500 x 1092 pixels,
showing bases and bark detail of these magnificent Giant Sequoias in the lower grove.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove 3086
(716 KB)

The Grizzly Giant is the oldest tree in the Mariposa Grove at 1800 years, and the 25th largest tree in the world by volume.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Fire Scar 2727
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Detail of the base of the Grizzly Giant and the trunk up to the lower branches, with the vertical fire scar at the base.

At first sight, the cinnamon-barked Giant Sequoias invariably strike the first-time viewer with awe. Even the younger trees are incredibly massive, but a tree such as the Grizzly Giant with a basal circumference of 96.5 feet must be seen to be believed. While the Grizzly Giant is only the 25th largest tree in the world by volume, it is one of the three most well-known Giant Sequoias along with the General Sherman and General Grant trees in nearby Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks.

Early conclusions based upon estimates by Galen Clark and others gave the age of the Grizzly Giant at 4000-6000 years, but this was before the development of dendrochronology. Estimates from the 1960s stated that the age was a far more modest 2500-2700 years, but the most recent age estimate (Stephenson, 2000) places the Grizzly Giant at about 1800 years old.

During that period, the Grizzly Giant has been severely damaged by numerous fires and is now heavily buttressed due to fire damage and other environmental stresses. It may have been 60-70 feet taller than its current 209 feet, before lightning strikes, damage by winter snows, and lack of nutrients from the fire-scarred base reduced its height. Fire has consumed over 80% of the bark and sapwood at the base of the Grizzly Giant, and has eaten several feet into the heartwood. Only four narrow strips of sapwood connect the tree to its roots at the base, and the reduction in nutrients has slowed growth of the tree.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Fire Scar X2372
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The large, vertical fire scar at the base of the Grizzly Giant.

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Giant Sequoia Bark Detail X2372c
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Detail of the Grizzly Giant’s bark and fire scar.

Giant Sequoia bark is thick and non-resinous, and mature trees are more resistant to fire
than young Sequoias and other trees which populate the forests in which they live, however,
repeated exposure to fire over many centuries can sear through the bark of a tree at the base,
kill part of the vascular cambium which transports water, and produces an large vertical scar
which weakens the tree. Almost all large Sequoias have a vertical fire scar over a large
percentage of the basal circumference, although few are killed by fire scars like this.
They do provide an entry point for fungi which cause disease and weaken the tree.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove X0482
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The Grizzly Giant in the early afternoon in spring, with a group of visitors at its base to provide scale.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove X0483
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The Grizzly Giant (without people). A Sierra Currant tree is growing on the largest branch at right, 100 feet off the ground.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove X2351
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The Grizzly Giant is surrounded by split-rail fencing made from a Giant Sequoia which had fallen nearby.

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Grizzly Giant Sequoia Mariposa Grove X2354
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The Grizzly Giant is about 1 mile up the hill from the parking lot and is the most popular sight in the Mariposa Grove.

The road through the Mariposa Grove used to travel directly past the Grizzly Giant,
and people used to wander all over the area around the tree, but after a study was
conducted which determined that the trampled soil was causing compaction which
was damaging the shallow root structure, and that roads should not pass too close
to the roots, the loop road was relocated to a position at a greater distance from
the tree (it was hand-built in 1932 so that explosives would not further damage
the roots, the most widespread of which reach up to 300 feet from the tree).

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Giant Sequoia Fire Scar X6913
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A vertical fire scar on a Giant Sequoia in the Grant Grove of King’s Canyon National Park, adjacent to Sequoia NP.

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Giant Sequoia Fire Scars X6923
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Fire scars and bark detail on a Giant Sequoia in the Grant Grove of King’s Canyon NP.

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Sugar Pine Bark Detail X0468
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Bark detail on a Sugar Pine in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove.
Sugar Pines are among the tallest and most massive of pines,
growing from 200 to 250 feet tall. Before the large trees were cut
down during logging of the best sites, large trees were 50-60 feet in
circumference three feet off the ground and 18 feet in diameter. Now,
the largest are just over 10 feet in diameter. The bark of mature trees
are highly textured, with deep grooves and a puzzle-like appearance.
The sap is sweet, sweeter than maple, but has a laxative character.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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California Tunnel Tree Mariposa Grove 3117
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Just beyond the Grizzly Giant is the California Tunnel Tree. The tunnel was cut in 1895 through the fire scar to provide an alternative tunnel tree in the lower grove. The Wawona Tree in the upper grove was cut in 1881 to allow stagecoaches (and later cars) to pass through as a tourist attraction. The Wawona Tree fell during the snowstorm of 1969.

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California Tunnel Tree Mariposa Grove 3114
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Originally, the road passing through the Mariposa Grove went directly through the California Tunnel Tree, but in 1932 after the study which determined that road traffic and the soil compaction caused by excess foot traffic was damaging the Grizzly Giant, the road was moved and the area around the California Tunnel Tree was re-landscaped as a foot path.

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California Tunnel Tree Mariposa Grove 2733
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The California Tunnel Tree is the only living tree with a tunnel in it since the fall of the Wawona Tree during the snowstorm of 1969. It is on the old stagecoach road from the Grizzly Giant.

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California Tunnel Tree Mariposa Grove X2360
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It is quite likely that the weakening of the tree caused by the massive cut through the heartwood will cause this 235 foot forest giant to fall when overloaded by a winter storm like the one which eventually took down the Wawona Tunnel Tree.

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Fallen Monarch 6th Cavalry 1899
(1580 x 1065, 539 KB)

A famous 1899 photo (Tibbetts) showing Troop F of the 6th Cavalry and the Fallen Monarch.

The Fallen Monarch was used as a photographic location by the US Army each summer from
1891 through 1914 when the Cavalry rode from San Francisco to Yosemite to protect the park.

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Fallen Monarch Roots Mariposa Grove 2752
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The Fallen Monarch fell over 300 years ago... nobody knows exactly when as there
were no Indian legends described the fall or a time when the tree was still standing.
The bark and sapwood have rotted away over time, but the heartwood still remains.

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Fallen Monarch Roots Mariposa Grove 2672
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Giant Sequoias do not have deep taproots. The root structure rarely goes further than 6 feet below the surface, but it can spread out as much as 150 to 300 feet from the trunk.

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Fallen Monarch Roots Mariposa Grove 2666
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Widely spread roots provide a stable base for Sequoias. When the trees fall, the roots break off close to the trunk.

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Fallen Monarch Roots Mariposa Grove 3133c
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Close detail of the root structure at the center of the Fallen Monarch.
Tannic acid in the wood stops the growth of fungi and bacteria and prevents
rot and disease in Giant Sequoias, but when rain and snow leach out the tannin,
decay can begin. This is what happened to the Fallen Monarch’s bark and sapwood.

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Fallen Monarch Roots Mariposa Grove X0461
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The root structure of the 285 foot Fallen Monarch in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

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Sequoia Cone X0466
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The enormous Sequoia begins life as a tiny seed inside a cone like the one above,
which is a little larger than a jumbo egg. Seed cones can remain attached to the tree
after maturity for as long as 20 years. The cones open when they are either dried by fire,
damaged by the long-horned wood-boring beetle (which eats the cone scales and shafts,
causing the cone to dry and open), or the Douglas Squirrel, which also eats the green
scales of young Sequoia cones, causing the cone to dry and open. The cones are
a major food source for these squirrels, who eat them all year and store them
for the winter when there are a lot of squirrels, or eat them in the crowns
of trees when the squirrel density is low. This seed is already dried.

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Sequoia Forest Still Life X2364
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A still life taken in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in the spring.

Pictured are a Snow Plant (the scarlet flower in the foreground), a green Sequoia cone,
several Sugar Pine and Jeffrey Pine seed cones, and some Wolf Lichen on the branches.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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