Nestled in the Southern Sierra Nevada Range, with elevations ranging from 1,300 feet to nearly 14,500 feet, Sequoia National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking trees in the world.
Throughout this California park, towering mountain peaks, marble caverns and a variety of diverse landscapes help support the habitats of plants and animals, whether terrestrial, aquatic or underground.
Also one of the oldest national parks in the United States, Sequoia is jointly managed with neighboring Kings Canyon National Park to protect a total of 868,964 acres, including 808,078 acres of wilderness.
Sequoia National Park protects tallest tree in the world (by volume)
Standing 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter at its base, the beloved General Sherman Tree has earned the title of tallest tree in the world measured by volume.
Visitors can take two trails to access General Sherman, which is located in the Giant Forest. The tree itself is lined with a wooden fence to protect its shallow roots from damage.
Sequoia National Park also has the second tallest tree in the world, the General Grant Tree, located just beyond the Giant Forest.
It is also home to some of the oldest trees in the world
Park managers believe General Sherman is around 2,500 years old, making it the tenth oldest living tree in the world.
Giant sequoias like those in Sequoia National Park can live up to 3,400 years. The rings inside these trees help scientists understand the local ecosystem here.
Controlled burning is an essential part of park conservation
Beginning in 1982, Sequoia National Park’s fire monitoring program studied the interactions between fire and plants, animals, soil, water quality, and other aspects of the park’s ecosystems.
Fire ecologists collect data before, during and after prescribed burns or natural forest fires to help park managers determine environmental conditions, monitor fuel diversity, and determine which parts of the park are most in need. prescribed burns.
The park has three distinct climatic zones
The elevation of Sequoia National Park ranges from 1,370 feet at the foot of the foothills to 14,494 feet in the alpine mountains.
Mid-altitude montane forests range from 4,000 to 9,000 feet and are characterized by evergreen trees, giant redwood groves, and an annual average of 45 inches of rain, mainly between October and May.
Trees that grow in high altitude Alpine mountains, typically whitebark pine and foxtail, rarely appear above 11,000 feet.
Sequoia is home to the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states
On the far eastern border of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest, 14,494-foot Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 US states.
Visitors can get the best view of Mount Whitney from the Interagency Visitor Center on the east side of the mountain range.
Mount Whitney is also the most frequently climbed mountain peak in the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation gain of over 6,000 feet from the trailhead at Whitney Portal.
The park is home to over 1,200 species of vascular plants
With such an extreme elevation gradient in the park, it’s no wonder Sequoia supports such diverse plant life. There are dozens of different plant communities scattered across the landscape, including over 1,200 vascular species representing 20% ââof the total number known in California.
The rocky alpine terrain contains around 600 species of vascular plants alone, of which at least 200 are limited only to the harsh growing conditions of the region. The skypilot plant, for example, has adapted to grow in alpine areas above 11,000 feet, while battling cold temperatures, wind and snow.
Over 315 different animal species live in Sequoia National Park
There are over 315 animal species in different elevation areas in Sequoia, including 11 species of fish, 200 species of birds, 72 species of mammals, and 21 species of reptiles.
Mammals such as gray foxes, bobcats, mule deer, pumas, and bears are more common in the foothills and mountain forests and meadows.
The park has two programs dedicated to the recovery of endangered species
Two of Sequoia National Park’s animals, the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep and the endangered yellow-legged mountain frog, have dedicated conservation projects to help restore their populations in the park. .
In 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife transferred 14 bighorn sheep from Inyo National Forest to Sequoia National Park, and there are now 11 Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep herds that thrive in the region. region.
Mountain yellow-legged frogs, which were once the most numerous amphibian species in the Sierras, have disappeared from 92% of their historic range. At the start of the park, frog populations were moved from their natural habitats to high elevation lakes to attract tourists to the area, creating an imbalance in the ecosystem where frogs and trout competed for the same resources. The national parks program has helped tadpole numbers increase by 10,000%.
Sequoia National Park is America’s second oldest national park
The park was established on September 25, 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison, a good 18 years after Yellowstone became the country’s first official national park.
Sequoia National Park was created for the specific purpose of protecting giant sequoias from logging, making it the first national park created specifically to preserve a living organism. In 1940 the park was expanded to include Kings Canyon National Park; the two parks have been jointly administered since World War II.
The park is rich in cave resources
At least 200 known caves are located under Sequoia National Park.
There have been 20 species of invertebrates discovered in the park’s cave systems, including roosts for the rare bat species Corynorhinus townsendii intermedius (or Townsend’s big-eared bat).
Currently, the 5 km long Crystal Cave is the only cave available for public tours, as the remaining formations are limited to scientific research and require special permissions. The smooth marble, stalactites and stalagmites inside the crystal cave have been polished over time by underground streams.