Your Ultimate Guide to Mariposa Grove in Yosemite

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Nestled within California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is a jewel of the United States’ National Park System. Spanning an impressive 1,187 square miles, it’s renowned for its towering granite cliffs, powerful waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, and rich biodiversity. Within this vast expanse, Mariposa Grove stands as a testament to nature’s grandeur and longevity, housing over 500 mature giant sequoias. These ancient trees have stood tall and firm for centuries, drawing visitors from around the world who come to marvel at their size and historical significance. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Mariposa Grove within Yosemite, ensuring that readers are equipped with all the necessary knowledge for an insightful and memorable visit.

History of Mariposa Grove

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, one of the largest sequoia groves in the park, boasts a history as grand as its trees. It’s believed that these trees have been growing in this location for millions of years. In 1864, in a landmark move towards conservation, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, which protected both the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. This action set a precedent for the establishment of the National Park system in the U.S.

From a natural perspective, the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove represent some of the oldest and largest living organisms on Earth. Some of these trees have been around for over 3,000 years, witnessing the ebb and flow of civilizations. Their resilience and longevity inspire awe and a profound respect for nature.

Culturally, Mariposa Grove holds immense importance for Native American tribes of the region, particularly the Ahwahneechee people. The grove has played a pivotal role in their traditions and stories. Additionally, the grove has been a focal point for the broader American conservation movement. Its protection in the 19th century reflected a changing attitude towards nature, emphasizing the importance of preserving natural wonders for future generations.

As visitors walk amongst these towering trees, they aren’t just experiencing the majesty of nature; they’re stepping into a living chapter of both natural history and the story of American conservation.

mariposa grove in fall

How to Get There

Exploring the wonders of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park requires a bit of planning, especially in terms of transportation. Whether you’re flying in from afar or driving from a nearby city, we’ve got you covered with all the necessary details to make your journey smooth and enjoyable.

From Nearest Airports:

Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)

  • Distance: Approximately 65 miles to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park, where Mariposa Grove is located.
  • Time: About a 1.5 to 2-hour drive, depending on traffic and road conditions.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

  • Distance: Roughly 200 miles to Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance.
  • Time: Around 4 to 5 hours by car, subject to traffic conditions.

By Car:

From Fresno: Head north on CA-41; this will lead you directly to the park’s south entrance.

  • Distance: Approximately 65 miles.
  • Time: 1.5 to 2 hours.

From San Francisco: Start on I-580 E and I-205 E towards CA-120 E in Manteca. Continue on CA-120 E. Follow signs for Big Oak Flat entrance.

  • Distance: Around 200 miles.
  • Time: Typically 4 to 5 hours.

Parking for Mariposa Grove is mainly at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza, near the park’s south entrance. From here, visitors can take a shuttle to the grove. During peak season, parking can fill up quickly. It’s advisable to arrive early or consider alternate modes of transportation.

Public Transport Options:

Buses: The YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) buses provide service to and from various cities, including Fresno, to Yosemite National Park. Distance and time varies based on the starting location, but from Fresno, expect about a 2 to 3-hour journey.

Shuttles: Free shuttles operate within Yosemite National Park. From the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza, visitors can take the shuttle to reach the grove itself. The shuttle ride from the Welcome Plaza to Mariposa Grove is short, roughly 20 minutes, depending on wait times and conditions.

Best Time to Visit

Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park is a year-round destination, each season offering its unique beauty and experiences. However, depending on your preferences for activities and weather conditions, one season may be more appealing than the others.

Spring (March – May): The melting snow brings the waterfalls to their peak flow, making the park’s waterfalls particularly impressive. As for Mariposa Grove, the ground starts to thaw, and the place begins to bloom. Some higher elevation trails may still be snow-covered. Springs have mild temperatures with daytime highs ranging from 58°F to 65°F. Chance of rain and snow melt can make some paths wet or muddy. Bring waterproof shoes, rain jacket, and layers.

Summer (June – August): This is the busiest season. The entire park, including Mariposa Grove, is fully accessible. Days are long and warm, perfect for extended explorations. Due to its popularity, expect larger crowds. It’s advisable to start your day early. Summers are warm and dry with daytime temperatures between 70°F to 85°F. Evenings can be cooler, dropping to 50°F or lower. Bring sunscreen, hat, refillable water bottle, and light clothing and a light jacket for evenings.

Fall (September – November): Fall in Yosemite is a visual treat. The crowds begin to thin, and the park is painted in autumn hues. Mariposa Grove wears a tranquil ambiance, making it an ideal time for those seeking serenity. The weather starts cooling, especially in late fall, so packing layers is a good idea. Fall in Yosemite is cool and crisp. Daytime highs range from 50°F to 70°F, with nighttime temperatures dipping further. Occasional early snowfall might occur. Bring warm layers, a beanie, gloves, and a scarf.

Winter (December – February): A blanket of snow covers Mariposa Grove, making it look like a winter wonderland. It’s the least crowded time of the year. Access might be limited due to snow, and some facilities might be closed. Check ahead for road conditions. Winters are cold with temperatures often below freezing. Snowfall is common, adding to the grove’s beauty but may restrict access. Bring insulated and waterproof boots, snow gear (if planning to explore snowy areas), thermal clothing, and hand warmers.

Regardless of the season, always bring essentials like a basic first-aid kit, a map, snacks, and ensure your communication devices are charged. Preparation is key to fully enjoy what Mariposa Grove has to offer. Safe travels!

camp at night


Ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay during your visit to Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park is essential. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast keen on camping under the stars or someone seeking the comforts of a hotel, there are various accommodations available. 


Yosemite offers several campgrounds, though not directly within Mariposa Grove. Reservations for these campgrounds, especially during peak seasons, fill up quickly. It’s recommended to book well in advance via the National Park Reservation System or Some campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, but this can change based on the season and current regulations.

Here are some nearby options:

Wawona Campground: Nestled in a pine forest, Wawona is open year-round and is one of the nearest campgrounds to Mariposa Grove. Facilities include potable water, flush toilets, and a dump station. No electric, water, or sewer hook-ups available. It is about 7 miles from Mariposa Grove.

Bridalveil Creek Campground: Located on the Glacier Point Road, this campground is open from July through early September. Facilities include drinking water and flush toilets available. Distance is approximately 13 miles from Mariposa Grove.

Nearby Accommodations

For those who prefer staying in lodges or hotels:

Tenaya Lodge: Located just outside the park’s south entrance, Tenaya offers a range of accommodations from rooms, suites to cabins. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, dining options, spa, and guided adventures. It is approximately 5 miles from Mariposa Grove.

Big Trees Lodge (formerly Wawona Hotel): A historic hotel offering charm with its Victorian-era ambiance. Facilities include golf course, horseback riding, seasonal pool, and dining options. Distance is roughly 6 miles from Mariposa Grove.

Yosemite Valley Lodge: Located near Yosemite Falls, it offers easy access to many of the park’s iconic landmarks. Facilities include restaurant on-site, convenient for exploring other parts of Yosemite. It is about 36 miles from Mariposa Grove, but closer to other attractions like Yosemite Falls.

Activities in Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove, with its ancient giant sequoias, offers more than just a visual feast. It provides various recreational activities, chief among which is hiking. Here are some trails that visitors can explore:

Hiking Trails

Grizzly Giant Loop Trail: This trail is a favorite among visitors as it leads to the Grizzly Giant, one of the oldest and largest trees in Mariposa Grove. It is approximately 2 hours round trip with moderate difficulty. Amenities include interpretive signs about the grove’s ecology and history.

Mariposa Grove Trail: This trail offers an extensive tour of the grove, introducing hikers to numerous giant sequoias, including the famous California Tunnel Tree. It is a 3 to 4 hours round trip with moderate difficulty. The trail is well-marked with resting benches at intervals.

Guardians Loop Trail: Taking you through the heart of the grove, this trail presents a good mix of young and ancient sequoias. It takes approximately 6-7 hours for a complete loop which is challenging, given its length and elevation changes. Several viewpoints and resting spots are also there. 

photography in mariposa grove

Guided Tours

If you’re looking to enrich your experience with the knowledge of local experts, guided tours are the way to go. These tours often cover the grove’s ecology, history, and significance, providing a more in-depth understanding.

Yosemite Conservancy Outdoor Adventures: Led by expert naturalists, these tours not only cover Mariposa Grove but other parts of Yosemite as well. Depending on the season, you can also partake in photography workshops, bird-watching sessions, and stargazing events. It offers custom group tours, family adventures, and specialty programs like art and wilderness experiences. Visit the Yosemite Conservancy website or their visitor centers within the park for booking. 

Yosemite Guided Bus Tours: It is ideal for those looking to explore the broader Yosemite area, including Mariposa Grove. These bus tours offer commentary on the park’s highlights. Tours vary by season, with options like Valley Floor Tour, Glacier Point Tour, and more. Reservations can be made at any tour desk in Yosemite Valley, including those at Yosemite Valley Lodge and Curry Village.

Photography Spots

Mariposa Grove, with its towering sequoias and natural beauty, is a paradise for photographers. Here are some recommended spots:

Grizzly Giant: As one of the most massive trees in Mariposa Grove, the Grizzly Giant’s grandeur and distinctive shape make it a favorite for photographers. It is best for close-ups and wide-angle shots to capture the enormity of the tree against the sky. Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to avoid harsh shadows and to capture the soft golden light filtering through the canopy.

California Tunnel Tree: Unique because of the tunnel carved into it, allowing passage. It provides a compelling frame for shots. It offers opportunities for framing distant subjects through the tunnel or capturing the scale with people walking through. Mid-morning to mid-afternoon is the best timing for photography, ensuring the tunnel is well-lit.

Mariposa Grove Museum: A rustic wooden structure set amidst the grove, offering a blend of natural and man-made elements. It gives a chance to capture the interaction of human history with nature. Best time for light is late morning to early afternoon when the structure is evenly lit.

Wildlife Watching

Mariposa Grove is not only home to towering sequoias but also a variety of wildlife species:

Mule Deer: Graceful herbivores often seen grazing in meadows or forest clearings. They’re easily identifiable by their large ears. Early morning or dusk are the best time to watch because they’re most active.

Black Bears: Omnivorous mammals with a keen sense of smell. While they can be seen in Mariposa Grove, always remember to keep a safe distance and store food properly. Best Time for Watching is late spring to early summer, typically during early morning or late evening.

Mountain Chickadees and Stellar’s Jays: Vibrant and active bird species which are  native to the region. The Stellar’s Jay is notable for its striking blue and black coloration. Best Time for watching them is throughout the day, especially during spring and summer.

Douglas Squirrels: Small, energetic squirrels known for their distinctive vocal calls and bushy tails. They are active mostly during the daytime.

Safety Tips

Visiting Mariposa Grove is a breathtaking experience, but ensuring safety is paramount. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Keep a safe distance, especially from larger animals like bears. Remember, feeding wildlife is not only harmful to them but is also illegal.
  • Utilize bear-proof containers when available and never leave food unattended.
  • Avoid straying off paths to protect both the environment and yourself.
  • Carry enough water, wear appropriate footwear, and understand the trail’s difficulty before embarking.
  • Check weather conditions before heading out. Some trails might be slippery or muddy after rains.
  • Dial 911 for immediate assistance.
  • Park rangers are trained to assist with various situations, including medical emergencies. Familiarize yourself with ranger stations or contact points before starting your exploration.
hiking in mariposa grove


Mariposa Grove welcomes everyone, and efforts have been made to ensure that it’s accessible to as many visitors as possible.

For People With Disabilities: Restrooms are wheelchair-accessible, and there are designated accessible parking spots. The Mariposa Grove Arrival Area has a boardwalk trail that offers views of several large sequoias and is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

For Families with Kids: Engaging activities like the Junior Ranger Programs that allow children to learn about the park’s ecology and history. Tailored to be kid-friendly, Guided Nature Walks are both educational and entertaining.

Precautions to Take

Always remember that while Mariposa Grove is a place of natural wonder, it’s also a wild environment. Being aware and prepared ensures a memorable and safe experience for all.

  • Given the expansive nature of Mariposa Grove, it’s easy for children to wander off. It’s crucial to monitor them closely.
  • Ensure kids are dressed in comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for walking.

Key Takeaways

  • Home to over 500 mature giant sequoias, Mariposa Grove is a vital part of Yosemite National Park, offering a unique perspective on nature’s grandeur.
  • The Grove provides facilities for people with disabilities and has various accommodation options, from camping to nearby hotels.
  • Visitors can engage in multiple activities such as hiking, guided tours, photography, and wildlife watching.
  • It’s essential to respect wildlife, stay on designated trails, and be prepared with emergency contacts while exploring.
  • Seasons influence the Grove’s experience, with each offering a distinct charm. Knowing what to expect weather-wise helps in preparation.
  • Mariposa Grove is family-friendly, with specific activities tailored for children, but precautions are essential.
  • While the Grove welcomes visitors, it’s crucial to approach it with a sense of respect and preservation, ensuring its beauty endures for future generations.


  1. Is Mariposa Grove wheelchair accessible?
    Yes, there are designated wheelchair-accessible trails and facilities.
  2. Is Mariposa Grove good for kids?
    Yes, there are kid-friendly activities like the Junior Ranger Programs.
  3. What are the emergency contacts?
    Dial 911 for emergencies and locate Park Rangers for immediate assistance.
  4. Can I bring pets?
    Pets are not allowed on the trails in Mariposa Grove.
  5. Are there any restrooms?
    Yes, there are accessible restrooms available.
  6. Is parking available?
    Yes, there is a designated parking area, but it can get crowded.
  7. Can I visit in winter?
    Yes, but be prepared for snow and limited accessibility.
  8. How do I book a guided tour?
    Booking can generally be done online or at visitor centers.
  9. Are there any shops or restaurants?
    No, it’s advisable to bring your own food and water.
  10. Are drones allowed for photography?
    No, drones are not permitted in Yosemite National Park.

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