Visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon can drive through Sequoia Park’s fallen “Tunnel Log” located along the Crescent Meadow Road in Giant Forest.
The fallen Tunnel Log of Sequoia National Park came into being after an unnamed giant sequoia fell across the Crescent Meadow Road in late 1937 as a result of “natural causes.” The following summer, a tunnel was cut through the fallen log as a visitor attraction. When it fell, the tree stood 275 feet high (83.8 meters) and was 21 feet in diameter at the base (6.4 meters). The tree’s age when it fell has not been determined, but probably exceeded 2,000 years.
The tunnel, which remains in use today, is 17 feet wide and 8 feet high (5.2 meters by 2.4 meters). There is a bypass for taller vehicles. “Why not cut a new tunnel tree?” many visitors suggest when they discover that the Wawona Tree can no longer be driven through. Times change, however, and actions proper for one generation may not fit the needs and goals of a succeeding generation.
Our expectations of national parks have changed immensely during the past half-century. When our national parks were young, cutting tunnels through sequoia trees was a way to popularise the parks and gain support for their protection. In those early days, national parks usually were managed to protect individual features rather than to protect the integrity of the complete environment. Today, we realise that our national parks represent some of the last primaeval landscapes in America, and our goal in the parks is to allow nature to run its course with as little interference from humans as possible. Tunnel trees had their time and place in the early history of our national parks. But today sequoias which are standing healthy and whole are worth far more.