Behind the scenes
Getting to shoot a commercial surrounded by the world’s largest living things isn’t just incredibly cool—it’s incredibly lucky too. That’s because these titans of the plant world, known as giant sequoias, only grow in a narrow band on the west side of the Sierra Nevada range. While the trees are truly enormous—some grow more than 30 feet wide—and can live over 1,000 years, they aren’t immortal: countless giant sequoias were felled for lumber until parks and preserves were created to keep the species from being wiped out. Because the remaining stands, like this impressive grove in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, are so precious, we had to be extra careful to keep from causing any damage to the trees or surrounding forest. We used the smallest crew possible to get these shots—no way did we want to have any negative impact on these awesome, cinnamon-colored goliaths.
Get the Inside Scoop on Calaveras Big Trees State Park: Try to wrap your mind—and your arms—around some of the world’s largest living things
With two outstanding groves of healthy giant sequoias, this gem of a park is a perfect way to experience these unforgettable trees. The easily accessible North Grove is noted as the first place where explorers discovered giant sequoias, native to the Sierra’s western slopes. (The giant sequoia’s cousin, the coast redwood, is the world’s tallest tree, and lives along the California coast from Big Sur north to the Oregon border.)
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is open year-round, offering different ways to experience the natural environment that harbors these botanic marvels. Summer and fall are busiest in the park; hike to the South Grove for hushed solitude. In winter, try snowshoeing through the forest on guided treks with park rangers; there’s even a warming hut in the North Grove with a cozy fire and warm drinks. (Rent snowshoes and get trail tips at Sierra Nevada Adventure Company in the nearby town of Arnold.) Late spring brings breathtaking dogwood blooms—the delicate, still-leafless dogwood trees bare creamy white, saucer-size “flowers” (actually specially adapted leaves) that open at the tips of the trees thin, dark branches, looking like pale doves floating among the soaring sequoia trunks.