How to plan the perfect trip to Sequoia National Park

Quick – what’s the largest living thing in the world?

The honor goes to the giant sequoia – the “god of the woods” to conservationist John Muir – and the best place to see it is in Sequoia National Park in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada mountains.

Located some 225 miles north of Los Angeles, the park stretches across 631 square miles of jagged peaks, meadows bursting with colorful wildflowers, canyons that plunge thousands of feet, and marble caverns. But the park’s most famous feature is the giant sequoia, a staggeringly massive species that grows naturally only on the moist, western slope of the Sierra Nevada above 5,000 feet.

By total volume, Sequoiadendron giganteum has no equal. It can be wider than a city street, and contain enough lumber to build 35 homes. A single branch can grow 50 feet long. Some giant sequoia existing today were tiny saplings as far back as 1,000 B.C.

To protect the unrivaled monarch of the forest, President Benjamin Harrison in 1890 designated Sequoia the nation’s second national park, after Yellowstone. That put the kibosh on logging and today Sequoia National Park is thick with thousands of magnificent specimens.

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