Hyperion, the tallest living tree in the world as certified by Guinness World Records, is off-limits to visitors. California’s Redwood National Park issued a statement last week threatening fines and jail time for anyone caught near the tree. The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) tree is 115.92 meters (380 feet) tall and its name is derived from Greek mythology — Hyperion was one of the Titans and the father of sun god Helios and moon goddess Selene.
Although the giant sequoia known as Hyperion is only accessible by a difficult off-trail hike through dense vegetation, the tree has become increasingly popular with bloggers and travel writers. Increased popularity has caused damage to the surrounding habitat, according to officials at California’s Sequoia National Park. The park’s Chief of Natural Resources, Leonel Arguello, told news site San Francisco Gate that hikers in the area have limited access to cell phone service and GPS—which makes rescue efforts challenging. In addition to erosion and damage caused at the base of the tree, there are secondary issues that come from an influx of people.
When asked about the impact of visitors, park ranger Alex Arguello said, “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.” Fires are a growing concern throughout California’s national parks. In 2021, officials at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks took extreme measures to protect some of the world’s biggest trees from fire. General Sherman, considered the world’s largest tree — determined by density not height, as it is shorter than Hyperion — was wrapped in an “aluminum-based burn-resistant material” as a way to keep it safe during the devastating KNP Complex Fire.