At a coffee shop in Kentucky last November, we scheduled a five day stay at Yosemite National Park as part of our trip to Oregon from Florida. Record rainfall this winter took out a couple of key bridges between the campground we had reserved and Yosemite, and it would have increased the trip into the park to 2-1/2 hours. While considering our options, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks showed up on our radar. A few phone calls later, our new destinations were set!
These two parks are operated as one administrative unit, but are vastly different. With that in mind, we will give Kings Canyon its own post following this one. We arrived on Tuesday, May 9 and set up base camp at Kaweah Resort in Three Rivers, just outside of Sequoia’s southwest gate. We drove up to the visitor’s center and picked up our maps, information, and our Junior Ranger book.
The next day we set off to discover Sequoia National Park!
As we entered the foothills, it quickly became evident that the roads were full of curves and hairpin turns. It was seldom that we cleared 30 miles an hour, which was just fine with us. There were plenty of turnouts to allow us to get over and let those with a tighter schedule to pass. It was in these foothills that Moro Rock first came into view. Knowing there was a pathway to the top, we headed that way.
Our first stop was at Hospital Rock.
This gigantic boulder was the winter home for up to 500 Potwisha Indians, and features several petroglyphs. Hale Tharp, a settler originally from Michigan by way of Placerville California, gave the rock its name after two acquaintances of his were treated by the natives there for injuries they had sustained elsewhere in the mountains.
Just before Moro Rock is a trail leading to Hanging Rock.
Not exactly a place a person would want to be in a rain, ice or snow storm. 😉 The view from there was outstanding!
The trail does offer one of the better vantages of our next destination.
After the Hanging Rock Trail, we then began our ascent up the spine of Moro Rock. The 350 rock stairs were fashioned in the 1930’s by the CCC and provide a fairly (but not totally) safe route to the top.
This is definitely one place where you want to heed the Stay on the Traîl signs!
Looking back, Hanging Rock can be seen in the center of the photo. That’s quite a drop off.
The view from the top is breathtaking! We want to note that this is not a place to be if there is a threat of bad weather. Lightning can be an issue up here. We also saw one woman scooting back down on her bottom, so a fear of heights comes into play on this climb.
From the vistas of Moro Rock, we descended into the forest that this park is so famous for. Actually, the word descended is a misnomer. We gained a fair amount of elevation before we reached the taller sequoia trees. That boggled our minds as typically the higher the elevation, the shorter the trees. That’s not the case here!
Words can not describe how impressive these trees are. That tree is most likely well over 1000 years old. The small tree to the left is also a Sequoia. The bark on these trees is soft and squishy, about the consistency of a ripe avocado. As you can see on the smaller tree, the needles are similar to a cedar or arborvitae.
They actually grow in a mixed forest. There are several groves of them scattered around the park.
And there’s Diana waving from Edsel in the Tunnel Log!
We traded photography duties with a couple at these twin sequoias. One of the trunks showed a large forest fire scar. These giants rarely succumb to fire, as the bark is flame resistant. The trees have a surprisingly shallow root system, considering their size. The usual cause of death is that they simply lose their balance and fall over.
Which is exactly what happened with the Buttress Tree. This giant actually toppled over in 1959 on a clear day with no wind. It’s remarkable how little it has decayed since then.
And here’s two sequoia wannabes with the real deal! I guess this could be called a shameless sequoia selfie. 😉
Of all the mammoths in Sequoia National Park, one stands larger than the rest. In fact, it is the largest tree by volume on the face of the earth!
The General Sherman Tree!
This coniferous colossus is estimated to be 2200 years old! To give visitor’s an idea how tall it is, the trail from the parking lot 1/2 mile away begins at treetop height (275 feet). Walking back up the trail afterwards…at an altitude of 6000 feet above sea level…really drives the point home. This tree is simply magnificent.
Next up is Sequoia’s neighbor to the north, Kings Canyon National Park! Be sure to stay tuned!
Giant Sequoia growing kit and other fun items on exploRVistas Amazon link available by clicking HERE.
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