Monday, May 4, 2015

Surprised By Sequoia



With a much nicer back roads drive through citrus groves on Friday, we arrived at Sequoia RV Ranch in Three Rivers, CA by early afternoon, giving us plenty of time to spend the rest of the day in Sequoia National Park. Our original plan was to stay at the nearby COE Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweaha with no hook-ups, but with unusual highs in the mid-90s, air conditioning was a necessity.


I have always loved visiting our national parks, even with their rules and crowds, probably because of my fond memories of our family vacations. One summer we visited the Great Smoky Mountains NP, arriving late in the day when the only campsites left in the park were miles away. I’m sure my parents were having second thoughts about the whole trip at that time, but we finally got to the campground, set up camp, and my mother started preparing dinner. To this day I can still picture her banging pans together trying to chase away the huge black bear ambling down the hill towards our site.

Another summer we took a camping trip from Pennsylvania to Florida, all the way down to Everglades National Park. When we got to the campground it was empty, not surprising since who would even consider camping in the Everglades in July, but my dad got out to set up our pop-up camper and came back few minutes later covered in mosquito bites. He said there was no way we could camp there and headed to the office for some advice. He came back with a key to a room in the lodge, the first time my brother and I ever stayed in a motel room. It was great fun, and I’ll always remember watching my brother and dad swim in the pool along with hundreds of little frogs.

So maybe that’s why I love our national parks and why we make it a point to go out of our way to visit them. And to visit Sequoia National Park you definitely have to go out of your way. The RV park in Three Rivers was eight miles from the park entrance, but most of the places we wanted to see were another 20-25 miles up the steep, winding, motion sickness inducing road, which took well over an hour to drive. I got wise and took a Dramamine the second day. What surprised me about Sequoia was the diversity and that it wasn’t all just about the trees.

The drive starts in the Sierra Nevada foothills and climbs beside the Kaweah River.   




There are frequent pull-offs and short trails to admire the canyon views. We found the name intriguing and stopped to check out Hospital Rock, where we saw rock art but no explanation of the name. Jim wondered if many people get hurt in this area, although it didn’t appear to be a dangerous place, so I looked it up and found this short Wikipedia article.


Finally we entered the Giant Grove and hiked a few miles of the numerous trails. We saw some other people but not as many as we expected.

Sequoia National Park, CA

General Sherman tree. We don’t know these girls but they just kept posing for more photos and we got tired of waiting.


General Lee got his own tree, too.


The giant sequoias are very impressive, and the forest seemed much more open than the redwood groves we saw last summer near the coast. Even Jim, who tires of trees long before I do, seemed to enjoy our walk in the woods, especially the interesting burned trunks.

 DSC01438            DSC01440



Playing tourist. We just had to do it since we were there.




But the best part of our Evelyn Wood speed visit (Jim’s words, of course) to Sequoia was the two high elevation hikes we did, one to Little Baldy and the other to Moro Rock. I just don’t have the words to describe the feeling of the Sierra Nevada’s Great Western Divide staring us in the face so I won’t even try.

From the top of Little Baldy at 8,044’





Two marmot sightings on the way up.



Our favorite hike was up the steep quarter mile up the 300 stairs to the summit of Moro Rock.










Next up Kings Canyon.


  1. Not exactly your Smokey Mountain/Florida Everglades childhood vacation. Imagine if you dad would have brought you out west on vacation… could a changed everything :)

  2. It's just hard to imagine trees so large. I'm hoping I can stop there next fall.

  3. We loved that NP. It is just amazing how insignificant we felt next to those monsters.

    The Sierra Nevada MTs. look gorgeous with their snow-top peaks.

  4. Oh you're in my backyard! There isn't much that compares to the Sierra Nevada! (The Tetons come close), but then I'm biased! Love all that granite! Morro is a wonderful hike too.

  5. What wonderful childhood memories. The photos from Sequoia are beautiful.

  6. We've been to Sequoia and loved the hiking. But, what amazing photos of Morro. Added to our future hike list.

  7. This is a NP we haven't been to yet but it is definitely on our list. Thanks for so many highlights. I love the huge trees. Nice of those girls to pose for everyone's photo...not! I did check out Hospital Rock. Guess it was a little hospital:) Too bad there wasn't some info right there. Nice hikes!! Great views!

  8. The views from your hikes are just wonderful. Marmots are cuties. Did they sing or whatever it is they do for you? I loved your family camping stories. Tough luck for anyone who wants a lodge room in Flamingo now. I sure would have loved to have stayed there before it was no more. Most of our travels are on the way to or from one national park or monument or another. I just love them. I must admit, when I was in Sequoia, it was all about the trees for me. I could not get enough of being in their cathedral. Thanks for taking me back.

  9. That is a park we need to get to. We've both been, ages ago, before we ever met. It sure is hot for so early in the season!

  10. Another area I can't believe I haven't been to after living in CA my whole life. Wonderful to see some snow up there. Of course you had to take the car/tree pic! Love those amazing views from Moro Rock.

  11. People complain about the crowds at the parks, but I'm with you. The reason people come is because they're spectacular. Sequoia is one of my favorites, Kings Canyon not so much.

  12. Let's hope the next generations have and share similar memories of our National Parks. I could feel the ancient wisdom of those Giants and have respect for their tenacity. Yours also for the climb to Moro Rock with mesmerizing views that dwarfed you in the photos. Just moved Sequoia up the list.