By Janice Eck
Pictures by Chris and Janice Eck
(Tulare County)– With the vacation season upon us, if you have not already, you are probably planning a trip to get the family out of the house for a few days. My family chose to spend Memorial Weekend at Sequoia National Park.
We stayed at Sequoia RV Ranch in Three Rivers, a great RV campground that offers different capabilities with reasonable prices and is not too far from the Sequoia Park entrance. The campground does allow dogs and has no limit on how many or weight and charge $2 per dog for your whole stay. The dogs must be leashed at all times. There are various motels and inns in the area or the park offers campgrounds as well.
Many of the roads in Sequoia National Park are not suited for vehicles over 22-feet because of steepness and curves. If driving your own vehicle, be courteous to other drivers. Let cars pass when you see they are following close behind you. If you would rather take the Sequoia Shuttle to the park, be sure to make reservations at www.sequoiashuttle.com . Entrance to the park is $20.00 per vehicle for a 1 through 7 day pass.
There is a variety of things to see and do at the park. We drove in on Highway 198 and it is quite a journey before you see any sequoia trees. The first touristy-thing to come across was Tunnel Rock. There was a line to take pictures, so we opted not to stick around, but it would have been fun to have a picture of the family – me, my husband and our two dogs -on the rock, but then we discovered later dogs are not allowed in the park.
Further down the highway, we stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center and purchased tickets for the Crystal Cave Tour. While standing in line outside of the center, a ranger let visitors know the cave was a 45-minute drive away with a 30-minute hike to the cave entrance and the cave was a cool 50 degrees. The cave was truly beautiful as our tour group walked alongside the sparkling marble walls and past the incredible formations. There are more than 3 miles of tunnels and paths in the cave. The 45-minute tour of course does not go through all of them, but the little bit visitors get to see will be a very memorable experience. The tour does warn of bats, but not for the safety of visitors, instead more so for the bats. There is a fungus known as White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that has not yet entered the Sequoia Park and to help prevent the disease, the park takes some precautions to keep their bats safe.
We also visited the Giant Forest where beautiful Sequoia trees tower high above you, those standing and even the ones that have fallen lie higher than the top of your head. In the Giant Forest stands the General Sherman tree, the largest living tree in the world. It is estimated to be over 2,200 years old, stands 275-feet tall, and is 37-feet wide. When we tried to go see the Sherman tree is when we discovered dogs are not allowed in the parks.
Wildlife seemed to be scarce, but we were lucky enough to watch a black bear wandering about and the person watching with us got video of the same bear tearing at tree bark looking for tasty bugs to eat. Back on Generals Highway, hundreds of people were watching a bear sitting in a marsh. The bears tend to keep to themselves when they come across humans, but that is no excuse to provoke them. Just relax and watch them from a distance.
If time permitted, Moro Rock would have been the next destination. There are 400 steps to climb, but a panoramic view of the High Sierra would have been the reward. Unfortunately, there was a lot of the park and the entire Kings Canyon Park we were unable to visit. Be prepared to take a few days to cover both of the parks or plan your trip for next time. The park is open year-round; however, depending on season and weather, parts of the park may or may not be open.