Nearly three years ago I wrote the following post on another blog platform as part of a series on the National Parks. That platform has gone defunct so I thought it appropriate to re-run this post, with a couple of updates, for the benefit of my current followers, some of whom may have missed it.
August 25th, 2019 will be the 103rd Anniversary of the establishment of the National Part Service. It seems timely to publish a series on the magnificent three sisters of the southern Sierra’s, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. I have been overwhelmed by the immense beauty, spectacular vistas and enormous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Rather than try to capture all of this in a single overly long treatise, I believe it would best serve the reader and each park by addressing them individually in a three-part series. This is Part I focusing on Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia is the southern most of the three sisters and may be considered the most remote. Located about 260 miles from SF and only 200 miles from LA, it may be the least trafficked by tourists and buses, of the three. Don’t let others’ reluctance influence you. Sequoia has the largest (by wood volume) tree in the world, a Giants Forest filled with an astoundingly huge Sequoia, the General Sherman and a granite rock out cropping that will give the less adventuress individual a Half-dome style experience, Moro Rock. However, the most attractive element of Sequoia may be the ability to see black bears in the wild without traveling to wilderness areas. During our most recent visit we saw twelve black bears in two days and came a little two close, by accident about twenty-five feet away, of a young 200 pounder. Literally all of this is easily accessible for automobiles, hikers, walkers as well as handicap accessible, thanks to the National Park Service (NPS).
The General Sherman, so named because the U.S. Calvary actually patrolled the parks before the National Park Service took over that responsibility, stands nearly 275 feet tall and has a circumference of over 102 feet. Pictures cannot capture the enormity of this estimated 2,700-year-old tree. The Sherman parking lot is about 10 minutes from the Wusachi Lodge, the only accommodations in the park. The walk from the lot is about 1/4 mile downhill with ramps and steps (the accessible parking lot is much closer and allows for wheel chairs). Being there at the foot of this ancient and majestic tree is awe-inspiring and somewhat of a spiritual experience.
Seven of the world’s existing Sequoia groves are in the Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park and the Giant Forest is here as well. Situated at over 6,000 feet above sea level, the forest covers an area of 1,880 acres. Within the forest there are several worthwhile attractions including, the Auto Log (can’t drive on it anymore), the Tunnel Log (fun to drive through) and Moro Rock, for those looking for a ‘near’ Half Dome experience.
For in-park lodging (unless you are an RVer or camper) Sequoia is limited to the 102 guestrooms at the Wuksachi Lodge. The Wuksachi is wilderness charming hotel with only nonsmoking rooms in the three detached buildings located a short walk away from the lodge itself. The lodge has banquet rooms for corporate events or weddings, the Peak Restaurant (serves 3 meals a day with extended hours), a bar and a gift shop. The lodge, restaurant and amenities are fitting for a wilderness lodge: comfortable and rustic, but don’t expect the Ahwanhee.
Late April-early May (we were there 5-6 May) and late October may be the best times to travel to Sequoia as the crowds are a little lighter, the weather can be more cooperative thereby making everything more enjoyable.
Moro Rock has a set of about 400 steps in its 1/3-mile staircase from the parking lot that ascends more than 300 feet to the summit. As rigorous as this may sound, nearly anyone from children to older adults can make this trip.
Sequoia National Park like so many of the U.S. National Parks is a real jewel and so unique. Don’t know why we waited so long to visit but you can bet it will not be the last time as we are already planning our return visit and it will be longer than 2 days.
Next up, Part II – Kings Canyon National Park.