One of Yosemite National Park’s most popular attractions is finally open to the public again after being closed to improve access to the site’s giant sequoias.
After years of being off limits to the public for renovations, Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias welcomed its first visitors since 2015 on Friday morning.
The renovations, which cost a total of $40 million, began on the site back in July 2015 to replace the grove’s paved trails with natural surfaces and improve access to the famous 209-foot-tall Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree. The National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy donors jointly funded the project.
“As the largest protection, restoration and improvement project in park history, this milestone reflects the unbridled passion so many people have to care for Yosemite so that future generations can experience majestic places like Mariposa Grove,” Michael Reynolds, Yosemite National Park superintendent, said in a statement. “These trees sowed the seeds of the national park idea in the 1800s and because of this incredible project it will remain one of the world’s most significant natural and cultural resources.”
When President Abraham Lincoln signed the 1864 Yosemite Grant Act, the grove of over 500 mature giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove—along with the entirety of Yosemite Valley—were officially protected for “public use, resort, and recreation,” marking the nation’s first legislation to preserve public lands for future use. The grove eventually became a part of Yosemite National Park in 1906.
The newly reopened grove is located off Highway 41 near Yosemite’s southern entrance. There are only 300 parking spaces at the brand-new Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza, so the National Park Service recommends arriving by mid-morning for a better chance at finding a place to park. From the plaza, visitors will take a free shuttle bus to the grove’s entrance, where the parking lot used to be. Shuttles run every 10 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer. Pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trails in Mariposa Grove.
For more information about visiting Mariposa Grove, visit the National Park Service website.