The only place sequoias thrive and grow into trees more than 200 feet tall and thousands of years old is the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California. The trees succeed in reaching such old ages thanks to their fire-resistant bark and natural wood preservative, which makes them less susceptible to disease than other trees. Several national parks and national forests give people a chance to explore the groves of huge trees.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park, as its name implies, offers a variety of trails and roads winding through several groves of sequoias. One of the park's highlights consists of Giant Forest, a three-mile-square grove featuring General Sherman, a tree holding the world record for the most massive living thing. The tree guards the northern fringe of the grove, reaching almost 275 feet in height. Take the two-mile Congress Trail to see General Sherman and nearby Washington Tree, another sequoia reaching 246 feet in height.
Kings Canyon National Park
One of the highlights of Kings Canyon National Park consists of the General Grant Tree--also called The Nation's Christmas Tree--located in Grant Grove. Special Yuletide celebrations are held each year under this tree, which is 267 feet tall and over 107 feet around, making it the world's second-largest tree. The tree is thought to be between 1,800 to 2,000 years old. The grove holding the General Grant Tree also boasts the slightly smaller Robert E. Lee sequoia, at 254 feet tall, as well as plenty of other trees to keep visitors fascinated for hours.
Yosemite National Park
Three groves of sequoias await visitors to Yosemite National Park. The Tuolumne Grove features several dozen trees while the Merced Grove contains more than two dozen trees. The largest grove, the Mariposa Grove, contains more than 400 mature trees along the Merced River. The Mariposa Grove includes the Grizzly Giant, once thought to be the oldest living sequoia. Near the Grizzly Tree, find the California Tunnel Tree, also known as the Wawona Tunnel Tree, which became internationally famous after an opening was carved through it in 1891. The tree fell down in the late 1960s, but you can still see the trunk so large that a six-horse stagecoach drove through it at one time.
Sequoia National Forest
Sequoia National Forest boasts 38 groves of giant sequoia trees. One of the most popular groves, the Long Meadow Giant Sequoia Grove, lies in the Giant Sequoia National Monument area. To see the trees, take the Trail of a Hundred Giants. Along the half mile trail, you'll see one tree more than 20 feet in diameters and more than 220 feet in height. You'll also find hundreds of sequoias between 500 and 1,500 years old as you walk among the giants.