The fine camping country south of the Yosemite Valley also offers its sensation. At its most southern point, the park accomplishes its forest climax in the Mariposa Grove. This group of giant sequoias (Sequoia washingtoniana) ranks next, in the number and magnificence of its trees, to the Giant Forest of the Sequoia National Park and the General Grant Grove.
The largest tree of the Mariposa Grove is the Grizzly Giant, which has a diameter of twenty-nine feet, a circumference of sixty-four feet, and a height of two hundred and four feet. One may guess its age from three thousand to thirty-two hundred years. It is the third in size and age of living sequoias; General Sherman, the largest and oldest, has a diameter of thirty, six and a half feet, and General Grant a diameter of thirty-five feet, and neither of these, in all probability, has attained the age of four thousand years. General Sherman grows in the Sequoia National Park, seventy miles or more south of Yosemite; General Grant has a little national park of its own a few miles west of Sequoia.
The interested explorer of the Yosemite has so far enjoyed a wonderfully varied sequence of surprises. The incomparable valley with its towering monoliths and extraordinary waterfalls, the High Sierra with its glaciers, serrated cirques and sea of snowy peaks, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne with its cascades, rushing river, and frothing Water-wheels, are but the headliners of a long catalogue of the unexpected and extraordinary. It only remains, to complete this new tale of the Arabian Nights, to make one’s first visit to the sequoias of Mariposa Grove. The first sight of the calm tremendous columns which support the lofty roof of this forest temple provokes a new sensation. Unconsciously the visitor removes his hat and speaks his praise in whispers.
The sequoias are considered at greater length in the chapter describing the Sequoia National Park, which was created especially to conserve and exhibit more than a million of these most interesting of trees. It will suffice here to say that their enormous stems are purplish red, that their fine, lace-like foliage hangs in splendid heavy plumes, that their enormous limbs crook at right angles, the lowest from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet above the ground, and that all other trees, even the gigantic sugar pine and Douglas fir, are dwarfed in their presence. Several of the sequoias of the Mariposa Grove approach three hundred feet in height. The road passes through the trunk of one.