The natural range of the giant sequoia is remarkably specific; this picky species has evolved and adapted to the Sierra Nevada's western slope and nowhere else. They are not only among the largest trees on the planet, they are also some of the oldest. The sequoia groves in Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are remarkable places to observe these natural wonders in their native environment.
Separated only by a few miles as the crow flies, Kings Canyon National Park's Grant Grove and Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest are home to three of the largest trees on the planet by volume. General Sherman Tree in Giant Forest is the undisputed champion in this category, but the designation of the second-largest tree is much more contentious. Grant Grove's General Grant Tree has held the distinction for years, but the annual rate of growth for the third place President Tree in the Giant Forest had been outpacing it. Recent measurements have confirmed a place change, and the 3,200-year-old President Tree seems to have surpassed the relatively young, 1,650-year-old General Grant Tree.
Not that these small differences in rankings mean much when you are standing beside one, or any, of these gorgeous giants. Standing in their presence recalibrates your sense of proportion both physically and temporally. Besides, no matter how it stacks up to its peers, the General Grant Tree retains the unique distinction of being the "Nation's Christmas Tree," an honor bestowed by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926. The town of Sanger sponsors annual Christmas treks to General Grant Tree each December to this day.
The grove is home to plenty of other magnificent trees, and a wide, paved trail leads visitors on an easily accessible tour. Miles of other trails leave from the area, so there is no shortage of terrain to explore. Grant Grove is near to Azalea Campground and Sunset Campground, and it makes a convenient stop if you are staying nearby. The Grant Grove Village hosts a store, a post office, and showers and restrooms along with other convenient amenities. Grant Grove is, of course, quite a popular stop; consider a visit in the off season if you'd like to enjoy these trees without the crowds.