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Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias credit Visit California
Itineraries Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

Please click HERE for current information from the Sierra National Forest.

NELDER GROVE OF GIANT SEQUOIAS closed in August of 2022 for implementation of an Emergency Fuel Reduction program.  The grove is currently open during the winter, but will close again in spring as soon a crews can get access to the grove. The full Fuel Reduction Program is expected to be complete in 2024. 

NORRIS CREEK BRIDGE was destroyed by the 2020 Creek Fire and is still out. We will post an update when we have more information.  

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

Enjoy this 30 minutes video from the PBS 2021 Series - “Outside Beyond the Lens” that takes you along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, showing beauty after the Creek Fire.

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway (known as the Secret Yosemite and located outside Yosemite's southern gate) -  is a nearly 100-mile journey through the Sierra National Forest with breathtaking panoramas, unique rock formations, and even a charming general store with mouthwatering hamburgers and amazing pie.  Starting at a little over 2,600 feet above sea level, the byway makes its way past historic cabins, stands of giant sequoias, and iconic landmarks as it climbs to over 7308 feet.

Enjoy this customized itinerary from travel enthusiast and Madera County travel expert, Jarrod Lyman. Today, the travel & mountain landscape looks a little different than when Jarrod took his first trip along the byway several years ago. Due to the relatively remote location of much of the Byway, services are fairly limited. However, that's pretty much the norm here and part of the appeal of getting off the beaten path, away from the crowds. Get back to the wilds of the Sierra Nevada. Plan ahead, pack a picnic and be sure you pack away any trace of your time spent here. 

The stars above the giant trees, rock formations, and historic buildings in this ancient place are just the same as they have always been. Reminding visitors that the concerns of this time will pass, and you can find a lot of wide-open space in the mountains.

The Byway tour can be done in a day or take your time and camp, fish and explore...

Working in the tourism industry, I spend my time promoting destinations. Unfortunately, I spend so much time promoting the attractions I don’t necessarily get to enjoy them as much as some would expect. So late last summer, my wife, daughter and father-in-law endeavored to remedy that situation. We started our Journey in North Fork, the exact center of California and we were immediately greeted by scenic beauty I could not have imagined.

Jesse Ross Cabin

We spent a lot of time at the Jesse Ross Cabin. This historic structure was built in the late1860s and continues to stand strong today. Just a short walk from the road, the history is almost palpable as you walk through the door. One truly interesting element was the old newspapers from the early 1930s covering one of the walls. The headline on one of them extolled the athletic virtues of someone I can only assume is a relative; another Lyman who accomplished quite the feat in college athletics. 

Fish Creek Campsite

Just a few minutes beyond the Jesse Ross Cabin was Fish Creek campsite, a beautiful spot perfect for peaceful relaxation with nature as your companion. There was only one camper there on the holiday weekend, alluding to the fact that chances are you would enjoy solitude while there. A stream babbles its way through the site, making the scene perfect. Fish Creek is one of several campsites along the byway, each one a beautiful retreat for anyone looking to getaway.   

Mile High Vista

The Mile High Vista is just as it sounds:  a panoramic viewpoint exactly 5300 feet above sea level and really the iconic image of the Byway. As you look down you will see Mammoth Pool, a manmade lake filled with sapphire waters. Beyond is the high sierra with verdant forests and towering granite peaks. It is here that I first realized why the Byway is often compared to Yosemite; the distant vista was definitely reminiscent of the Byway’s more famous and well-traveled attraction to the north-west.

Mammoth Pool

The best view of Mammoth Pool is actually about a half-mile prior to the main viewing spot for Mile High Vista. As you head north towards the stop, look for a small pullout on the right side of the road. When you find it, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the man-made reservoir and the earthen dam that holds back the beautiful blue waters. If you’re so inclined, take a side trip down to the lake and be sure to bring your fishing pole, anglers enjoy excellent rainbow, eastern brook and brown trout.

Eagle Beaks

As you head past Mammoth Pool and the Mile High Vista, keep a sharp eye out for Eagle Beaks on your left. This aptly named rock formation seems to watch over the byway from above as if they are sentinels tasked with protecting the natural beauty of the byway.  Framed against a brilliant blue sky, the Eagle Beaks are a dramatic vision, just as much a testament to the erosive power of nature as they are to her beauty. 

Jessie Ross Cabin

The Jesse Ross Cabin was built in the late 1860s

Globe Rock

Looking as if a giant placed this tremendous boulder on the tee for a game of geologic golf and then forgot about it eons ago, Globe Rock is one of the most photographed spots along the byway. In fact, many claim that Theodore Roosevelt had his picture taken at the geological oddity during a hunting trip that accompanied his visit to Yosemite National Park in1903. The nearly spherical rock was formed out of the granite, in place, thanks to the freezing and thawing action of water on the rocks. 

Jones Store at Beasore Meadow (photo by Nancy Robbins Photography)

Come for the pie, stay for the people. The Jones Store is a quaint country store along the second half of the Byway known just as much for the stellar hamburgers and delicious pie as it is for the hospitality of the owners. The store has a history going back nearly a century, and families that have been frequenting the business for generations. Enjoy a cold beverage and hot lunch as you talk to people who knew the area way back when.

Beasore Meadow

The meadows along the route are a tribute to the natural diversity of the Byway. Beasore Meadow is a lush, green landscape adjacent to the Jones’ Store offering a beautiful view should you decide to dine outside during your stop. The meadow was once the first stop along a well-used cattle trail in the 1800s and continues to provide sustenance to free-range cattle today.

Cold Springs Summit

Cold Springs Summit is the highest point along the byway at an elevation of over 7308 feet. That higher elevation brings it the latest spring, as there were still plenty of wildflowers growing in Cold Springs Meadow at the beginning of September. From the parking lot is a short easy walk through the woods, where you’ll come to a viewing platform overlooking the grasses surrounded by towering pines. Behind the meadow is a spectacular view featuring the Madera Mountain, standing over 10,000 feet tall.


With so much change in elevation in the byway, flowers bloom in different areas throughout the season. You can expect to start seeing blossoms at the bottom of the trail in late May or June, and still see flowers as late as September in the highest elevations.

Globe Rock

Globe Rock is one of the most photographed spots along the Byway

Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoia - located off Road 632/Sierra Sky Ranch Road (the west edge of the Byway)

Nelder Grove is closed for restoration and estimated to reopen in 2024.

Here are over 100 mature giant sequoias intermingled with second-growth pine, fir and incense cedar.  It is a 1540 acre (6.2 km²) tract that also contains a number of sequoia stumps, leftover from when the area was logged prior to its acquisition by the United States Forest Service in 1928.  

During the logging in the 1800s, the felling foreman or woods boss was called the “Bull Buck”.  The woods boss told the crew to preserve the magnificent tree for posterity. The Bull Buck Tree was so named because its size made it the boss of the woods.

The Bull Buck Tree reaches a height of 246 feet (75 m) and has a ground-level circumference of 100 feet (30 m) and a volume of 27,383 cubic feet (775.4 m), making it one of the 50 largest Giant Sequoias in the world.

 Visit for more information from the Friends of Nelder Grove.

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway links:

US Forest Service

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association

Download the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Map

Written by: Jarrod Lyman, Travel Enthusiast


Like what you see? Save this pin to your travel planning board to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other itineraries as well as blog posts for more ideas and pins!

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
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