Sequoia National Park..., California
Sequoia National Park is intertwined with Kings Canyon National Park. This is home to the largest groves of these magnificent trees. The General Sherman Tree is 311 feet tall and is the largest (not the tallest) tree in the world. These trees live for about 3200 years and weigh about 2.7 million pounds. It is interesting to note that these huge tress grow only from seeds about the size of an oat flake.
Driving through the Tunnel Log is one of the most popular picture-taking opportunities in the park.
A variety of animals call the park home, too. This full grown Grizzly Bear walked right in front of my car, then slowly made his way up the rocks to the forest. He stopped once to stare at me.
For more information see my Sequoia National Park Page.
Kings Canyon is intertwined with Sequoia National Park. Kings Canyon is home to the deepest canyon in the United States (8000 feet at the deepest point) along with a lot of great scenery. Wander through the mountain areas, the meadows, the streams, and hike some of the trails for a better view. I came here a bit to early in the all too short season and was prevented from fully exploring the park due to excess snow.
There are several places to stop and explore along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Photo 2 shows the view from the Junction Overlook.
The General Grant Tree, a Sequoia, is the third largest tree in the world. It was declared the National Christmas Tree in 1926 and is the only living memorial to those who died in times of war.
For more information see my Kings Canyon National Park Page.
Sequoia & King's Canyon National Parks are often treated as one despite their glaring dissimilarities. The former is more user friendly for the average park visitor while the latter is truly the domain of the intrepid backpacker. Truth be known, there are both aspects to each park with Sequoia having its share of lengthy treks and King's Canyon featuring the General Grant Grove, perhaps more fitting to its sister park. It seems the parks would have been better split, east and west rather than their north and south configuration but the politics of park formation is something that matters little to those who visit them.
Inland California has its own version of the mighty giants. Trees, that is. You won't find redwoods here in Sequoia National Park, but the more traversed of the 2 California National Parks in the eastern central portion of the state, is also known for the tall trees for whom the park was named. Some of the oldest living things in the world are found in this park, including the General Sherman tree.
Sequoia and King's Canyon are actually two parks in one, but it will take more than a day to see both.
There are few places in the Sierra quite as quiet and beautiful yet accessible as Mineral King Valley. Yes, the road to the valley is narrow, winding, and unforgiving- but reaching the valley more than justifies driving the Mineral King Road. This subalpine valley lies in the southern part of Sequoia National Park and actually was not incorporated into the park until 1978 (Sequoia National Park itself was founded in 1890). This wasn't because the valley lacked any qualities to become a national park, but because there was always mining interests in the area (and later ski-resort interests by Disney).
The valley is ringed by snowcapped peaks and the valley floor is filled with forests and meadows. The East Fork Kaweah River runs through Mineral King Valley. Visitors are relatively rare; the road discourages most of them. However, there are tens of miles of trails around the valley that will allow you to leave the presence of all other people.
The road dead-ends at 7,800 feet, where trails lead to various lakes, meadows, and passes. We hiked to Eagle Lake (and only saw two other people), a 7-mile round trip full day hike. The scenery is outstanding. Another trail I hiked was the Cold Springs Nature Trail, a one-mile one way leading from the Cold Springs Campground to the Eagle-Mosquito Trailhead. It's a wonderful early morning hike.
Other trails in the area lead to Farewell Gap, Monarch Lakes, Franklin Lakes, Crystal Lake, Mosquito Lakes, and Timber Gap. You could probably spend half a month hiking the valley.
See my Mineral King page for more details.
Sequoia National Park is one of America's most famous and most beautiful. While it doesn't recieve as much attention as the nearby Yosemite National Park, Sequoia has many of the same features: sheer cliff faces, waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, meadows, and of course, giant sequoias. The obvious highlight of Sequoia National Park is the Giant Forest, a large grove of sequoias where you'll find four of the five largest living things on earth, including the largest, General Sherman Tree. You can also hike in the granite-dominated Tokopah Valley, where you'll find the sharp pinnacle of the Watchtower and the high cascade of Tokopah Falls. Other trails lead you to great views, such as the Little Baldy Trail in northwest, and Moro Rock and High Sierra Trails in Giant Forest. Another attraction is the marble-formed Crystal Cave. There are two visitor centers in the park at Ash Mountain/Foothills and Lodgepole Campground. Generals Highway is the main road in this park, and allows you to access many of the prime tourist areas. The park is also accessible by the Mineral King Road, which winds to a secluded mountain valley. There is no way to see this park without hiking, so you'll have to get out of your car. Also, unlike Yosemite, the High Sierra is not directly accessible by road here, and a good portion of the park is wilderness. The park lies within Kern and Kaweah watersheds. Mt. Whitney, 14,494, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, is on the eastern border of the park.
These trees are VERY large and VERY old! I took this picture about 15 years ago inside of an old Sequoia tree that was dead and hollowed out. There are many hiking trails throughout the park, and Sequoias have a tendency to be few and far between, but are very recognizable due to their red color (they are sometimes called "redwoods").
This tunnel was carved from a Sequoia Tree that had fallen down in the middle of the road sometime in the 1930's. It's short, but kind of neat. Stand up in the back of a pick-up truck and run your hands over the roof on the inside of the tunnel...no worry, it's smooth. You won't get splinters!!
Our son works for the National Park Service and is one of the few people still working since the budget cuts thank goodness.
We went to visit him last year and were blown away. I can't wait to go back.
The mountains are just breathtaking and the trees are HUGE!!!!!
If you love the outdoors, this is the place for you. There are a lot of hiking trails, fishing, canoeing, painting, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, etc. At Montecito Lodge in Sequoia National Park they offer excursions to several view points. They even pack you a lunch for the day if you stay with them. I attempted to canoe for the first time there.. and it was a blast! I almost fell in though! ; (
Beyond the sequoia groves in the west, the Park stretched for many miles of incredibly rugged wilderness. On the eastern boundary, Mt Whitney, 14494 feet/4392 meters high, is the highest peak in the US outside of Alaska. See my Sequoia NP tips for more.
If you have the time, (I recommend a whole day, AT LEAST) this National Park is definetly worth the drive through; if any reason...the fresh mountain air! Yes, you can still see "General Sherman" and the trees you can drive through. But, take some time to just sit and look and listen. There's plenty of wild life that is just as curious as you.
Another national park that you MUST make it a point to visit is the world famous SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK...
Did you know that those tall Sequoia trees are over 1,000 years old??? Hm!!
Photo Below: That's me (on the right) in a pony tail... with an American friend checking out all the beautiful Sequoia trees!!!!
The Giant Forest is at the heart of Sequoia National Park - here are found the largest trees on Earth, including General Sherman, which holds the world record for the most massive living thing. The tree weighs over 2000 tons, has bark up to 3 feet thick and is 272 feet high, although this is not a record - some Giant Redwood trees along the north California coast are taller.
Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park
The beauty of these trees are only surpassed by their immensity. In this case the pictures are insuficient to show them, you have no idea of how large they are till you 'meet' them up close and personal. I remember showing my wife Zohara some pictures of the trees years before we visited (I had been there before), she said they were 'nice'. When we got there and she saw them from a distance, she commented 'We're almost there'. It took us another few minutes of driving to get to the nearest tree. As we stopped near one of the biggest, she said to me 'I had no idea they were so BIG!'. In this case you do need to see to believe.