Giant sequoia grove (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Sequoia National Park, California, USA
As I drove through Californias Sequoia National Park after an overnight snowfall, I was drawn toward this particular patch of forest. In most midlevel views of tree trunks, symmetry defines the scene, but in this particular case, it is all about color. The beautiful muted reds of the giant sequoias, the yellow lichen-shrouded firs, and the emerald green needles combine to create a colorful panorama. The second element that attracted my attention was the way the snow covered the forest floor, reflecting upward and providing a soft luminescence in the trees, which seemed to glow from within. Sequoia National Park, which was formed in 1890, ranges in elevation from 312 meters (1,360 feet) in the foothills to 4,417 meters (14,491 feet) along the Sierra ridge. The park contains groves of massive sequoia trees, one of the largest living things on Earth. Sequoias are named after a Cherokee Indian, Sequoyah, who created the Cherokee alphabet. The huge trees, some of which are more than 3,000 years old, can achieve heights of more than 33 meters (311 feet); they grow only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. The sequoia is related to the California coast redwood, which is taller and more slender and grows only in a narrow band along the Northern California Pacific coast. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest tree (in volume) in the world.