How better to kick off the year-end holiday season than with a snowy trek to the nation's Christmas tree in Kings Canyon National Park?
The General Grant sequoia in the park was designated the nation's Christmas tree back in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge. Ever since there's been a fun holiday ceremony to lay a wreath at the base of the tree. The 85th journey for that celebration will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on December 12 this year.
Co-sponsored by the Sanger District Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service, the event will include the Jubilation Singers, Sanger High School Choir, a non-denominational holiday message, and a wreath-laying ceremony.
Access to the park for the event will be free from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. on that day. To reach Kings Canyon by vehicle, take Highway 180 east from Fresno for approximately 55 miles.
The ceremony itself is at the base of the General Grant Tree, a ¼-mile walk from the parking lot. Visitors are strongly advised to check on road and weather conditions in advance and be prepared for wintry conditions. Walking surfaces may be slippery and snowy. For recorded messages on weather and road conditions, call 559-565-3341 and press 4.
Given limited parking at the grove, a free shuttle service will be available from the Kings Canyon Visitor Center parking area to the trail to the Grant Tree Trail. Allow an extra 30 minutes if you plan to use this in-park shuttle service. In addition, a shuttle bus to the park from Sanger, California, is available with a fee and by reservation (559-875-4575).
In 1956, the tree was also established as the only living national shrine, honoring those who gave their lives in service to our country. During the ceremony conducted by the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, the National Park Service will place a large wreath at the base of the tree as a memorial to those men and women.