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General Sherman, Sequoia National Park

California’s Biggest, Oldest & Most Famous Trees

Palm trees, citrus trees, yeah yeah, we already know about those in California – and most everywhere else. But did you know the Golden State is home to some of the oldest, largest, weirdest, and even most famous trees in the world?

Here are six of California’s most unique trees – found from SoCal to Norcal, and everywhere in between.

1. Sequoia

The world’s largest living things, the sequoia is found all over California’s High Sierras region – and preserved by multitudes of national and state parks – plus the Sequoia National Forest. Definitely the most famous sequoia is Sequoia National Park’s star, the old General Sherman Tree – the largest tree on the planet.

Kings Canyon National Park was established in order to preserve the General Grant Grove – home to the famed General Grant Tree. Standing at 267 feet, 3,000-year-old Grant is said to be the globe’s third largest tree, and is also known as the World's Christmas Tree.

Set in Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Grove contains roughly 500 mature giant sequoias. The grove is found at Yosemite's South Entrance along the two-mile Mariposa Grove Road.

 

“Coast
Redwood National Park

2. Redwood

The sequoia sempervirens – better known as the coast redwood, giant redwood, and California redwood – stand on California’s northern coast. The tallest redwood is said to be Hyperion at 380 feet, while the largest is thought to be the Lost Monarch – measuring 26 feet in diameter.

Preserved by Redwood National Park and other sites – mostly near Crescent City – these are trees you’ll have to see to believe. Trek the Avenue of Giants, visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Mailliard Redwoods State Reserve, or check out the 315-foot Chandelier Tree along the Redwood Highway at Drive-Thru Tree Park.

 

Monterey Cypress
Lone Cypress, Monterey Peninsula

3. Monterey Cypress

The Cupressus macrocarpa is endemic to California’s central coast – and more specifically, the Monterey Peninsula. The most famous of these trees is the “Lone Cypress” – set in seclusion against the Pacific Ocean along the 17-Mile Drive scenic roadway.

Neighboring the city of Monterey and the famed Cannery Row, and said to be one of the most photogenic trees in the country, the Lone Cypress is found between Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove.

Though this legendary little guy is all by itself, the Del Monte Forest is not far – and contains 5,300 acres of the Monterey Cypress.

 

“Joshua
Joshua Tree National Park

4. Joshua Tree

Fans of Dr. Suess will appreciate the Yucca brevifolia – also known as the yucca palm, palm tree yucca, tree yucca, and of course, the Joshua Tree. Named by Mormon settlers, the Joshua tree is said to resemble a human praising the heavens – though it looks like something drawn by a kid.

Even though these knobby, twisty, weirdos are found in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, the Joshua Tree National Park is the place to go. The park is located in southern California’s desert region – set near cities like Palm Springs, Indio, Yucca Valley, and Twentynine Palms.

 

Bristlecone Pine
Bristlecone Pine, Inyo National Forest

5. Bristlecone Pine

The Pinus longaeva – also referred to as Intermountain, Western bristlecone pine, or Great Basin bristlecone pine – looks like something from mythology. These gnarled, ancient organisms are found in California’s White Mountains, Inyo Mountains, and Panamint Range.

The most famous Great Basin bristlecone pine is Methuselah – a roughly 5,000-year-old tree once known as the oldest non-clonal living organism in the world. Old Methuselah is located in the Methuselah Grove of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – found in the Inyo National Forest.

 

“Gilroy
Circus Trees, Gilroy

6. Circus Trees

Though not natural trees of California, the world-famous Circus Trees are definitely worth noting here.

Set in the Santa Cruz area – of course – of central California’s coast, these artistically manipulated treasures were all created by local hero Axel Erlandson. Found in Gilroy at the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, the circus features American Sycamore, European Ash, Cork Oak, and more.

Check out impressive exhibits like the Squat Curvy Scallops, two Spiral Staircases, the Four-Legged Giant, and Double Hearts.

Best Western Hotels Along the Way:

1

Best Western Bishop Lodge

1025 N Main Street, Bishop CA 93514-2407
Phone: (760) 873-3543  |  Fax: (760) 872-4777  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

2

Best Western Plus Northwoods Inn

655 US Highway 101 S, Crescent City CA 95531-4416
Phone: (707) 464-9771  |  Fax: (707) 464-9461  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

3

Best Western Liberty Inn

14394 County Line Road, Delano CA 93215-9425
Phone: (661) 725-0976  |  Fax: (661) 725-6743  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

4

Best Western Americana

1450 S Alta Avenue, Dinuba CA 93618-3802
Phone: (559) 595-8401  |  Fax: (559) 595-9450  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

5

Best Western Exeter Inn & Suites

805 S Kaweah Avenue, Exeter CA 93221-9361
Phone: (559) 592-8118  |  Fax: (559) 592-5226  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

6

Best Western Plus Humboldt House Inn

701 Redwood Drive, Garberville CA 95542-3104
Phone: (707) 923-2771  |  Fax: (707) 923-4259  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

7

Best Western Plus Forest Park Inn

375 Leavesley Road, Gilroy CA 95020-3606
Phone: (408) 848-5144  |  Fax: 408/848-5144  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

8

Best Western Date Tree Hotel

81909 Indio Boulevard, Indio CA 92201-2038
Phone: (760) 347-3421  |  Fax: (760) 863-1338  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

9

Best Western Plus Frontier Motel

1008 S Main Street, Lone Pine CA 93545-3010
Phone: (760) 876-5571  |  Fax: (760) 876-5357  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

10

Best Western Plus High Sierra Hotel

3228 Main Street, Mammoth Lakes CA 93546
Phone: (760) 924-1234  |  Fax: (760) 934-3626  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

11

Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station Motel

4999 Highway 140, Mariposa CA 95338
Phone: 209-966-7545  |  Fax: 209-966-7545  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

12

Best Western Park Crest Inn

1100 Munras Avenue, Monterey CA 93940-4514
Phone: (831) 372-4576  |  Fax: (831) 372-2317  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

13

Best Western De Anza Inn

2141 N Fremont Street, Monterey CA 93940-5242
Phone: (831) 646-8300  |  Fax: (831) 646-8130  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

14

Best Western Plus Victorian Inn

487 Foam Street, Monterey CA 93940-1409
Phone: (831) 373-8000  |  Fax: (831) 373-4815  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

15

Best Western Plus Monterey Inn

825 Abrego Street, Monterey CA 93940-3103
Phone: (831) 373-5345  |  Fax: (831) 373-3246  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

16

Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn

40530 Highway 41, Oakhurst CA 93644-9621
Phone: (559) 683-2378  |  Fax: (559) 683-3813  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

17

Best Western Inn at Palm Springs

1633 S Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs CA 92264-8343
Phone: (760) 325-9177  |  Fax: (760) 325-0945  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

18

Best Western Plus Las Brisas Hotel

222 S Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs CA 92262-6618
Phone: (760) 325-4372  |  Fax: (760) 320-1371  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

19

Best Western Plus Sonora Oaks Hotel & Conference Center

19551 Hess Avenue, Sonora CA 95370-9720
Phone: (209) 533-4400  |  Fax: (209) 532-1964  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

20

Best Western Town & Country Lodge

1051 N Blackstone Street, Tulare CA 93274-7376
Phone: (559) 688-7537  |  Fax: (559) 688-2163  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

21

Best Western Gardens Hotel at Joshua Tree National Park

71487 Twentynine Palms Highway, Twentynine Palms CA 92277-4304
Phone: (760) 367-9141  |  Fax: (760) 367-2584  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

22

Best Western Joshua Tree Hotel & Suites

56525 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley CA 92284
Phone: 760-365-3555  |  Fax: 760-365-3555  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

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