It is truly a treat visiting America’s second oldest national park at Sequoia located near central California. And although it can take hours to get there, it’s so easy to become more inspired with every visit to a national park. This is where I include Sequoia and Kings National Park.
After driving north a few hours from San Diego we came into the fire affected areas on the freeway. After seeing all what’s happening around us, I am happy to have plenty of water and snacks with us. Which is great for what will turn out to be a very long day on the road.
We encountered a few road blocks on our road trip heading north passing through and around Los Angeles. The firestorm of 2018 was happening all around us as we saw a plume-like cloud at the backdrop of the city on our journey northward.
Witnessing all these fires reminded us of our dealing with fires and evacuations back in 2014. We also experienced massive fires in San Diego in 2007. As well as evacuating during the 2014 San Marcos fires which were burning literally in our backyards. Here are a few photos.
Sequoia National Park
We arrived at Sequoia National Park early enough in the day to enjoy most of the park. Well, at least the parts that were not closed due to the winter season. We continued our path into the park on The Generals highway. This 80 year old roadway is included as part of the overall park experience.
We encountered road construction delays as we went through the entrance. We were told there was up to a 2 hour delay but we made it in time, where only 40 minutes remained until traffic would be allowed through.
Currently, as of November 2018, repairs are being done on the highway to handle a larger number of vehicles. We spent some time at the Foothills Visitors Center and enjoyed a little break as we waited.
Take a look at our journey through the park as we share some of the highlights and points of interest of Sequoia.
We stopped in at the Giant Forest Museum and used the restrooms at this stop. Sequoia exhibits, information, gift shop, and permits are offered here.
General Sherman Tree
Our next stop, the General Sherman Tree. Here you will find two different hiking trails that take you down to the tree. The main trail is about 1/2 mile down stairs and paved walkway. There are small signs that include a warning: “High Elevation, so take your time.” This sign is of course intended for those walking back up the hill, those returning back to the parking area. These trees are incredibly massive, and very interesting.
The General Sherman Tree is estimated to be 2,200 years old. It’s largest branch is nearly 7 feet in diameter. Wow! Do you know the difference between Sequoia and Redwood trees? Here are a few details.
Sequoias grow naturally in the west slope of the California Sierra Nevada range and have a massive trunk and is also called the Sierra Redwood.
The Redwood tree is a taller and more slender tree and grows in the northern and coastal part of California.
Several of the meadows, water fall trails, and other paths are closed for the winter season. We had hopes to see a few bears as well, but only a few of them are out and loiter around different parts of the park during this time of year, we are told.
The Park Ranger informed us that the bears are small black bears, about the size of a large dog. And to still remain at a distance, do not feed them, and properly store your own food in appropriate containers. The ranger also indicated there might be a few bears in the meadow areas, but we did not see any.
Unfortunately, due to all the fires happening around California, and the national park doing a contained burn, the smokey hazy skies is all we could capture.
Kings Canyon National Park
On our second day visiting the national parks in this area. we started quite early in Kings Canyon as we stayed in lodging in Fresno the night before. (Since Sequoia and Kings are located right next to each other). It was a beautiful morning as we made our way in and around Kings Canyon National Park.
Fallen Monarch Tree
Take a look at the above photos and compare the fallen Monarch to the black and white photo taken around 1900. It is an amazing feeling walking through this fallen tree as it lay here just the same as it did back in the early 1900s. (See the black and white photo info display photo, Life after Death) Sequoias can avoid decay even for thousands of years fallen on a forest floor. Take a walk through the center of the fallen Monarch here in the video below. Click here.
Another point of interest is an incredible overlook we stumbled upon on our drive down to Hume Lake that offers stunning views of the canyon below and impressive landscapes.
Unfortunately, disappointment is all we can say because of the hazy smokey skies happening during this particular weekend. But we refuse to allow this to put a damper our visit!
As we went further into the park, we came upon Hume Lake. This lake is a smaller lake and camping area that is very peaceful and serene. The lake is on private land and not part of the national park. There are camping and large group camping events available and hiking around the lake which is approximately 2 miles. This area did not really impress, however, it was very quiet, serene and had only a few people milling around.
Our next stop during our hike was to see the next infamous giant sequoia tree but we came across one of the early cabins where the first park ranger resided here at Gamlin Cabin during the early 1900s. Take a look.
The impressive massive General Grant, Americas Christmas Tree. The world’s second largest tree!
It is so exciting when visiting a place for the first time. It’s even more exciting when it’s a national park! This is another first time visit experience for us at these two beautiful national parks. They are full of stunning landscapes, offering lots of interesting history, and impressive plant life (giant trees). We recommend visiting these two parks on your next visit to California as they are conveniently located next to each other.
To top off our amazing visit to these parks, we were able to enjoy a few stunning sunsets!
More information about these parks are below:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271
*There is no gas available in the park.
*Trails: Day hikes are available in all areas.
*Bears: Black bears are attracted to human food, and they know what the plastic grocery bags are. You can’t even begin to understand how good their sense of smell of food is. You must properly store food at all times.
*Do not feed any wildlife.
Lodging and Places To Stay:
We stayed in Fresno, since these national parks are located slightly over an hours drive. We are members of Choice Hotels, so we always try to book with one of these hotels.
As we plan our travels, we do try to make reservations in hotels that are close to dining choices. We enjoyed having dinner at In & Out not too far from the hotel so we don’t spend too much time driving around and wasting time.
Save it for later!
Read about more adventures here:
Capitol Reef National Park a photo essay:
Exploring Channel Islands National Park: Santa Cruz Island!