On Thursday, Sequoia National Park reopened the Generals Highway leading to the Giant Forest. Previously, the park had to close the highway to the popular attraction, as well as several other major roads, due to heavy rain and snowfall. Thanks to the diligent work of Caltrans road crews, though, officials were able to reopen the road to the world-famous forest to visitors.
The good news came through an Instagram post from Sequoia National Park in which officials announced that it was once again possible to see the namesake trees. The Giant Forest is the most accessible of the sequoia groves within the national parks with more than 40 miles of trails that wind past the ancient trees. From all over the country and even the globe, visitors come to see trees like General Sherman, the largest living tree in the world and the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. It stands strong at 275 feet tall and is roughly 2,100 years old.
While the Giant Forest is open for visitors, though, Cedar Grove will not be seeing any tourists until next spring, thanks to the winter weather. Along with the road updates, the national park also posted a stunning photo of a double rainbow that occurred just before sunset.
“If you happened to be in the foothills of Sequoia National Park late yesterday afternoon, you may have been treated to quite a sight!” the park shared.
Sequoia National Park Also Begins Emergency Fire Protection Surrounding Trees
The recent colder weather and precipitation also mark the start of fire prevention methods in the areas around the sequoia trees. Back in October, Sequoia National Park and the neighboring Kings Canyon began emergency actions that helped reduce the amount of dense vegetation that tends to act as fuel around the base of the ancient trees.
In hopes to prevent future wildfires, the park plans to hack away the extra foliage by hand and create burn piles.
“In the midst of a new era of extreme fire behavior fueled by climate change, this work is an important step towards ensuring the long term viability of the ancient giant sequoias and protecting them from future losses,” said Chuck Sams, director of the National Park Service. “We have the tools to protect this iconic species and will deploy them as needed.”
In the future, they may also schedule prescribed burns to further reduce risk of wildfire spread. Prescribed burns and brush piles are a frequent part of western wildfire management. However, in light of the recent fires that California has experienced, officials believe the need for these actions is more pertinent than ever.
“Park managers are assessing the appropriate fuels reduction tools for each grove on a case-by-case basis,” added Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.