Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened Friday after the biggest restoration project in the national park’s history. It took three years and $40 million to remove parking areas, create a new boardwalk and visitor center, reestablish wetlands and make more improvements to protect the 4-acre habitat for the landmark redwoods.
The grove is home to about 500 big trees near the southern entrance to the park. President Lincoln in 1864 set aside Yosemite Valley and the grove “for public use, resort and recreation.”
The restoration project’s goals, according to the park’s website, were to improve habitat for the trees and improve the experience for visitors.
The grove, which closed in July 2015, received visitors and officials Thursday during a preview event.
--Visitors can no longer drive to the grove. There’s a new Welcome Plaza and parking lot with about 300 spaces. Arrive early if you want a spot; these likely will fill up by late morning, according to the park service.
--Visitors now take a free shuttle from the Welcome Plaza to the grove. Shuttles in summer and fall will run every 10 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
--New trails, bridges and boardwalks have been added, and asphalt removed to improve water flow to the trees.
--New restrooms with flush toilets are at the Welcome Plaza.
What you won’t find is the gift shop and tram tour; they’ve been removed.
The most popular trail to the trees is the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail, a flat 2-mile loop that will take you past the Bachelor and Three Graces, the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree. More strenuous hiking options go to the Mariposa Grove Cabin and Wawona Point.