They’re among California’s oldest tourist attractions – not to mention our oldest living things – and they inspire awe every time you set foot in the forest. Giant Sequoias are the largest trees on earth, reaching heights of up to 325 feet and diameters of 33 feet, and living for more than 2000 years. Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a must see for many visitors to Calaveras County – but have you ever been to the groves in winter?
Carriage Rides at Winter Wonderland
Park aficionados know that a snowshoe hike or cross country ski through Big Trees in winter is a magical an unforgettable experience and they’ve created the Winter Wonderland Carnival to share it with you. Now in its fifth year, the event falls between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the perfect time of year to bring the family into the forest for a wonderful experience.
Festivities include horse drawn carriage rides among the sequoias, games, music and many more fun activities for the family. Hot cocoa, apple cider, popcorn, cookies and other surprises will help keep you warm on the inside.
Winter Wonderland is a key fundraising event for the Calaveras Big Trees Association, the nonprofit responsible for the park’s educational and interpretive programs. CBTA staff lead tours, workshops and operate the new visitor center, a must see for its forest exhibits and excellent gift shop. Sales here also help fund the Junior Ranger program for young people to explore the world of the forest. Last year, Big Trees received the Calaveras Visitors Bureau’s Innovations in Tourism Award in the attraction category for its interpretive programs, warming hut and new visitors center.
Any winter day in the park can amazing, but if you want to make it Winter Wonderland, you’re advised to get tickets early, as the event typically sells out.
Winter Wonderland Carnival
December 28, 11:00am – 4:00pm
1170 East Highway 4, Arnold, CA 95223
Tickets: Adults – $12.50 / Under 12 – $8.50
Other great winter activities for anytime in Big Trees Park include:
The Warming Hut – Open weekends and holidays from Thanksgiving through late March, 12 pm—4 pm
Snowshoe Tours Offered on Saturdays and some holidays at 1 pm. Bring your own showshoes or borrow a pair of from the tour guides. Meet at Warming Hut.
On Your Own – Snow play is allowed in the North Grove area. Build a snow person, ride a sled, or simply marvel at the beauty. Bring your own cross-country skis or snowshoes and travel the North Grove trail or the 3.5 mile loop out the park road and back through the campground.