man standing near giant red wood trees

Visitors Caught Near World’s Largest Tree Now Face Prison Sentence

If you didn’t know, the world’s largest tree is off-limits to people. And before people think the punishment would be a slap on the wrist- it is a lot more than that. Eager tourists who want to take a picture with the 380-foot-tall tree could be facing fines up to $5000. In certain cases, they could also have a jail stint of up to six months. These new rules have been brought out because they are a necessity. It has been reported that tourism has been quite destructive to the surrounding forest. In a statement that was made the previous week, the National Park Service had to beg nature lovers to back off. They implored all the bloggers, the tree enthusiasts to respect the fragile ecosystem of the place. 

Interestingly, the Hyperion is located in a remote locale of the Redwood National Park. Under normal means, this location is inaccessible. Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped visitors from hiking up to the tree. Leonel Arguello, the park manager, had this to say about the bushwhackers– “The social trails have grown in number, the amount of garbage has increased, there’s human waste that has been seen, and as more people go up to this tree, they create more social trails and all of that is having damage impacts to the vegetation, to the soils, and all of the garbage just sits out there.”[1]

Seeking Out The World’s Largest Tree Warrants A Prison Sentence

Ever since the world’s largest tree was discovered in 2006, the park has tried its best to keep the location confidential. But all have been for naught. The park authorities believe that too many visitors could cause an ecological imbalance. Arguello further stated, “People have the right to come and enjoy their parks. However, our concern has to do with the safety of visitors and the protection of resources. And when we see potential damage, we have to make decisions that protect those things.”

The official statement from the National Park read, “The forest around Hyperion has been trampled and damaged by ill-informed hikers. Redwood roots are incredibly shallow, reaching down 12 feet on average. Soil compaction due to trampling negatively affects these centuries-old trees.”[2]

Hyperion Tree is the Tallest Tree in the World, Redwoods National and State Parks, California
Hyperion Tree, the tallest in the world located in Redwoods National and State Parks, California. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Read: 21 Spectacular and unique trees and forests around the world

The officials at Redwood National Park have been trying their best to stave off bloggers and hikers. Their last statement put forward a frank question to their visitors. “There is no trail to Hyperion. Hyperion is located within a closed area. Hiking within this closure could result in a $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail. Since its discovery in 2006, this tree has been on many tree enthusiasts’ bucket lists. Hyperion is located off trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy bushwhacking in order to reach the tree. Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree have resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion. As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape- or will you be part of its destruction?”

Park Authorities Are Imploring Hikers To Leave The Tree Alone!

The root systems for most of the trees around the world’s largest trees are shallow. Some of them barely touch 12 feet into the ground. As such, they rely on drawing water from the detritus that remains undisturbed on the forest floor. But recent human activity has made that quite difficult. Arguello states, “The usage was having an impact on the vegetation and potentially the root system of the very tree that people are going there to visit. There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste- it’s not a good thing, not a good scene.”[3]

The National Park authorities have also mentioned that seeking the Hyperion can be quite futile. According to them, a tree is unlikely to remain the tallest forever. “A view of Hyperion doesn’t match its hype. Hyperion’s trunk is small in comparison to many other old-growth redwood trees and its height cannot be observed from the ground. There are hundreds of trees on designated trails that are more impressive to view from the tree’s base.”

Keep Reading: This Man Is Cloning Old-Growth Redwoods and Planting Them in Safe Places


  1. California: visitors to world’s tallest tree face $5,000 fine and possible jail time.” The Guardian. Associated Press. August 2, 2022.
  2. The World’s Tallest Tree Is Officially Off-Limits.” Smithsonian Mag. Molly Enking. August 2, 2022.
  3. Visitors caught near world’s largest tree in California now face prison sentence and $5,000 fine.” Independent. Maroosha Muzaffar. August 2, 2022.