Established on September 25, 1890, Sequoia National Park contains Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states. Connected to Kings Canyon National Park, 84 percent of the two national parks is designated as wilderness as most of the land is only accessible by foot or horseback. It is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including General Sherman, the largest living single stem tree on Earth.
Named after American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman in 1879, its estimated age is 2,300-2,700 years old. It is 275 feet tall and has a 103-foot circumference at the base. It grows in the Giant Forest, which contains 5 out of the 10 largest trees in the world.
The area was first home to Monachee Native Americans. They traveled over the high mountain passes to trade with tribes to the east. When the first European settlers arrived, smallpox had already spread to the region, reducing the Native American population. Today, pictographs are still found at several sites within the park.
The first European settler to make his home in the area was Hale Tharp. He built a home from a hollowed out fallen giant sequoia log. He led early battles against logging, however, his attempts were unsuccessful.
In the 1880’s, settlers seeking to create a utopian society sought economic success in trading sequoia timber. But they later found out that Sequoia timber splintered easily.
The National Park Service incorporated the Giant Forest into Sequoia National Park in 1890, which ceased all logging operations in the Giant Forest.
Mountains, canyons, caves, glaciers, and waterfalls make up the park. New caves are discovered every year, including 17 since 2003.