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Sights to see in the area
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SIGHTS TO SEE WITHIN A FEW MILES OF OUR HOME

Introduction

Sequoia National Parks is a masterpiece created by nature. Here you can walk up to the largest tree on the globe. The following are just a few of the many sights to see in the park.

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Giant Forest

Named in 1875 by explorer and conservationist John Muir, Giant Forest is celebrated for its beautiful meadows and its sequoia grove, the park's most famous attraction. The first thing to do in Giant Forest is to go to the Giant Forest museum, where exhibits and park rangers will help you understand the story of this beautiful grove. The cinnamon-colored Big Trees, members of the redwood family, may be seen today as Muir found them, "Giants grouped in pure temple groves, or arranged in colonnades along the sides of meadows." The northern fringe of the grove is guarded by General Sherman and a few of his troops, including the 246.1-foot-tall Washington Tree, the world's second largest. The two-mile looping Congress Trail provides access.

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General Sherman Tree

This gargantuan sequoia, while neither the tallest nor the widest tree, is considered the largest living tree in the world because of its volume. It weighs approximately 2.7 million pounds, and it is believed to be approximately 2,100 years old. Its height is 274.9 feet, and its circumference at ground level is 102.6 feet. The diameter of its largest branch is 6.8 feet. Every year, it adds enough wood to make a 60-foot-tall tree measuring one foot in diameter, and it's still growing. It was named in 1879 by James Wolverton, a pioneer cattleman who had served under General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. The tree is located two miles north of Giant Forest museum along the Generals Highway.

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Moro Rock

Moro Rock is a large granite dome also found in the Giant Forest area. Common in the Sierra Nevada, the dome was formed by exfoliation, or the casting off in sheets of rock layers on otherwise unjointed granite. Outward expansion of the granite results in exfoliation. Taking a quarter-mile trail, you can climb nearly 400 steep steps to the top of the barren rock (6,725-foot elevation). It offers an unparalleled view (especially at sunset) of the Great Western Divide and its verdant canyons. The Moro Rock parking area is 1.5 miles from the Giant Forest museum. RVs and trailers are prohibited on this road.

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Crescent Meadow

John Muir is said to have called this lovely, grassy, open area the "gem of the Sierra." It is located one-and-a-half miles east of the Moro Rock parking area. A hike on the trail around the meadow takes about an hour.

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Tharp's Log

Hale Tharp, the first non-Native American settler in the area, established a cattle ranch among the Big Trees. He also built a simple summer cabin from a fallen, fire-hollowed sequoia log in the 1860s. It is the oldest pioneer cabin remaining in the park. Muir called it "a noble den." The cabin is located in the Giant Forest area, a mile northeast of the Crescent Meadow parking lot.

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Crystal Cave

The parks protect more than 200 caves, including Crystal Cave. Formed of limestone that has been metamorphosed into marble, it is decorated with curtains of icicle-like stalactites and mounds of stalagmites. To reach it, you must drive to the end of the twisting, seven-mile road heading west from Generals Highway two miles south of the Giant Forest Museum. Trailers, RVs and buses are prohibited because of the road's narrowness. Then, from the parking area, it is a 15-minute hike down a steep path to the cave entrance. The cave can be toured in summer only. Sequoia Natural History Association offers daily, 45-minute guided tours every half-hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. from mid-June to early September (less often in early May and late September). A jacket or sweater is recommended. Please call (559) 565-3759 for more information. Tickets are not sold at Crystal Cave and must be purchased at Lodgepole or Foothills visitor centers only.

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Mineral King

From Highway 198, three miles east of Three Rivers, is a 25-mile winding road leading to Mineral King. Because of 698 tight turns, the drive takes about one-and-a-half-hours. The glacial valley, added to Sequoia in 1978, was named by 19th-century prospectors searching for silver. To see Mineral King at a leisurely pace, it's best to stay at one of the two area campgrounds, Atwell Mill or Cold Springs (no trailers permitted). With 11 different trails, Mineral King is a hikers' heaven. Avalanches have mowed down trees on the valley floor so lowlands are covered with wild meadows. Woods of lodgepole pine, and white and red fir are at higher elevations. The rocky landscape is colorful: rusty-red shales, white marble and granite, and a black metamorphic shale. Alpine trails begin at the 7,500-foot elevation and climbs are steep.

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Hospital Rock

Hospital Rock, about six miles northeast of the Foothills Visitor Center, was the home of a subgroup of the Monache people until the 1870s. You can see pictographs as well as nearly 50 grinding spots used by Monache women to grind acorns into flour.

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Mount Whitney

Crowning the Sierra Nevada, majestic Mount Whitney stands 14,494 feet tall. It is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. You can see it only from the eastern reaches of the backcountry of Sequoia or from Highway 395, near Lone Pine, outside the park. To reach Mount Whitney from western trailheads, backpackers take a 70-mile, eight-day trek. It takes one to two days from eastern trailheads. The trek is so popular that special permits are required.

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