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.
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.
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.