Moro Rock

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This is perhaps one of the most spectacular yet easily reached vistas in Sequoia National Park.  The rock itself is a granite exfoliation dome of the same variety as Half Dome in Yosemite.  From the top, you will see a stunning view of the western half of Sequoia and the Great Western Divide.  This chain of mountains runs north to south through the center of the park, "dividing" the watersheds of the Kaweah River to the west and the Kern River to the east.

Google Maps - Moro Rock
GPS Coordinates: N36 32.649 W118 45.903
Altitude 6744 ft

From the parking lot at the base of Moro Rock you will find a 0.25 mile trail which ascends approximately 300 feet and some 400 odd steps to the 6725 ft peak.  The trail is either granite or concrete all of the way to the top with metal pipe rails or granite rocks bordering it.  It can be a taxing climb but I have seen people of all ages make the trek.  If you have a fear of heights this can be a true challenge for you since the path overlooks sheer 1000+ foot drops.

About the rock:
Moro, according to ranger lore, is a Spanish word that might mean "roan-colored horse," a snout, a promontory or an unwatered place. It stands there as evidence that about 100 million years ago, molten rock rose from the depths of the Earth, cooling as it went. Up on the surface, it solidified into a mass of black-and-white crystals and then suffered the stresses and strains of movement on the surface. Cracks formed and rock peeled off (exfoliation), leaving a dome. The Sierras contain lots of these domes, but Moro is the only one with a parking lot at the base and a comfortable metal stairway to the summit.  The Potwisha Native American’s who lived in the valley below Moro Rock may have placed a high spiritual value on it since it was omnipresent in their daily lives.  The valley that the Kaweah River runs through, and Moro Rock overlooks, is nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon.

About the stairway:
1917- Wooden stairs were built on Moro Rock.  They were inelegant and dangerous.
1931- Moro Rock's wooden staircase was replaced with a stone stairway by the park service.
1933- Metal handrails were added to Moro Rock by the Civilian Conservation Corps (recall that the CCC was the Roosevelt administration’s depression era solution to the rampant unemployment of the time and were responsible for many unique and historical structures; the Moro stairway being one of them)

The Moro Rock Stair case is listed in the National Register of Historic Place.  Structure - #78000283.

The stairway not only makes the top of this interesting granite dome accessible, but it was constructed in such a way that sections of it blend into the rock surroundings and are not observable from below.  The construction of the stairway was a daunting task considering when it was built and that the concrete was hauled up the mountainside by hand.

The following excerpt from the which shows that a structure like this stairway would not be built today:
William Tweed, a naturalist at Sequoia/Kings Canyon, noted that certain amenities in the parks would probably not exist if the heart of the Sierras were a recent discovery. The stairway to the top of Moro Rock, for example. "That would be very hard to build today," he said. "The truth is, the world has changed so much, it would be very hard to build much of what we have here now. Tweed meant that the public has become more sensitive and selective about "improvements." People love their parks and they want to visit them, but they also want to see them as nature intended.

The following excerpt from
An exciting climb up a 300-foot dome to vistas of the Great Western Divide and Kaweah Canyon. Moro Rock provides one of the few points in the heavily forested western part of Sequoia National Park where you can gaze upon the spectacular Great Western Divide without hiking an hour or more. This granite dome rises so abruptly from the wall of Kaweah Canyon that from nearly every angle it looks unclimbable without technical gear. Not so, thanks to an exhilarating concrete stairway built by the Park Service in 1931, with iron handrails added two years later by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This marvelous stairway replaced a breezy wooden flight built in 1917, and is so unobtrusive that it was . . .
[. . . well, you get the idea.]

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Last Updated: 10/27/2008