High in the California mountains, a towering tree – named for a Civil War general – is the nation’s Christmas Tree. Designated with the holiday title by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926, the Sequoia tree still stands and is visited by thousands of tourists and wilderness aficionados every year.
More than a Christmas Tree (and certainly different than any “traditional” holiday tree), the living flora monarch is also a history lesson. It’s called the General Grant Tree, and it was named after the Civil War commander!
The centuries-old Sequoia tree received its name in 1867, honoring the American general and his victories in the recently ended conflict. The tree is protected by the National Park Service and stands in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California.
The General Grant Tree is the second largest tree in the world (the General Sherman Tree is the largest – more on that in a different blog post). It stands 267 feet tall, and it’s almost 107 feet around the base. The tree is believed to be about 3,000 years old! Just think of all the history that’s happened in that life span…
If you want to visit the Nation’s Christmas Tree in December, be prepared for snow. Take your snow chains, keep an eye on the weather, and obey all park rangers or safety officers. There are ranger led programs to help visitors appreciate the history and natural wonders of Grant Grove. On December 11, 2016, the 91st Annual “Trek To The Tree” will feature holiday music and a war memorial ceremony at the General Grant Tree.
If snow isn’t your favorite element for hiking (and I totally understand!), visit the General Grant Tree during the spring, summer, or early autumn. There are lovely trails through the Sequoia grove and other historical points of interest nearby.
Here’s a link to the December 2016 Ranger Programs in Grant Grove: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/GGflyer-Nov-28-Dec-12.pdf
More information about the General Grant Tree can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/grant.htm
And here’s the National Park Service website for Sequoia and Kings Canyon: https://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm