How big is big? Try nine meters in diameter. How old is old? Does 1,800 years seem right? Big and old is what Yosemite’s Big Trees Tram Tour is all about. With more than 500 stately sequoia trees in one of the world’s most astounding forests, Mariposa Grove is one magnificent site.
From May through October, with calendar variation depending on Mother Nature’s timing, a fact-filled audio tour on board one of Yosemite’s green trams runs through Mariposa Grove sequoia forest. There are two other smaller forests at Tuolumne and Merced, but this one is the granddaddy of them all.
The tour chats through an hour and fifteen minutes, departing from the gift shop at the south entrance to the park. Engaging in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, or German voice, the tour departs every half hour between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., offering up history, science, and statistics about these magnificent trees.
The star of the show is Grizzly Giant, estimated to be some 1,800 years old. Grizz is also 30 feet in diameter, 90 feet in circumference, and 209 feet tall. While not the largest in the world, Grizzly Giant does make it into the global top twenty.
Who wouldn’t want to see this forest? That’s what makes it so popular and busy. And since there is no reservation system in place, the tour runs on a first-come, first-served basis. Prices are posted on the park website, along with a number to call for additional information, but everyone has to wait their turn for this incredible park feature.
While the tram motors through the forest easily, it is also possible to get out and hike through these gigantic trees. About two miles round trip through the lower grove, and about six for both the lower and upper grove, the trip hike leaves most visitors awestruck.