May 8 - 11, 2011 - Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Forest

We blew out of Desert Hot Springs on Sunday morning with a strong head wind. We had about an hour and a half of driving before we got out of the wind. It was cloudy, cool and rainy and we had to stop and change from our shorts and t-shirts into jeans and sweatshirts – a nice change from the high 90’s. We drove to Three Rivers, CA just outside of the South entrance to Sequoia National Park. Three Rivers is a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and stretches for 8 miles along the Kaweah River. We are staying at the Three Rivers Hideaway, a small campground along the Kaweah River. The campground caters to river floaters and kayakers and has a small beach where you can launch your craft. The river has way too much white water for us so we won’t be putting our kayaks in here. We have a nice shady spot under the trees.


Monday morning we woke up to rainy cool weather and heard that it has snowed in the higher elevations. We decided to drive into Sequoia National Park and see how the weather holds. This unique sign was at the entrance.

This is tunnel rock – the road used to go under it.  There were many gouge marks on the ceiling from vehicles that were too tall to go under it.   We know our 5th wheel would never make it through this.

As we drove higher into the park the weather got worse. It was raining and the cloud cover settled in so you could not see far from the road. We decided we should turn back and head to our campground before it started snowing.

Tuesday morning we woke to sunshine so we went back into the park. It had snowed again overnight and we were warned we might need chains for the Jeep. The roads ended up all being dry so chains were not necessary.

This was a nice small waterfall at Hospital Rock.


The scenery was beautiful and there were lots of wildflowers blooming.

Our first Giant Sequoia - Wow – we knew they were big but we were not expecting this big!!  They sure make you feel small and insignificant.  Notice all the snow at the base.

This is Moro Rock, a granite dome.  A 400-step stairway carved out of the rock takes you to the summit – a 300 ft elevation change.

After climbing all those steps we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Great Western Divide.

And a great view of the road we just came up.  This part of the road is under construction and they only allow traffic through every two hours.  We hit it just about right and only had to wait about 30 minutes.

After climbing back down Moro Rock we took a short hike in the snow to Roosevelt Tree – another giant.  See what we mean about feeling small and insignificant.

The bases of these trees are huge

The road to Tunnel Log was still closed so we hiked about ½ mile to it.  We were disappointed that the road was closed as you can still drive through this log when the road is open.

Here we are in front of the General Sherman Tree, the biggest tree on the planet.   Some trees grow taller, and some are bigger around, but no tree has greater mass.  The amount of space taken up by its trunk is greater than that of any other tree.  The top of this tree is dead, so its upward growth has stopped at 275 feet.  As long as a sequoia tree lives its trunk thickens, gaining mass.  Each year the General Sherman Tree’s trunk gains enough wood to equal a very large tree of most other species.  This tree is about 2,200 years old!

We found this cute little snowman on top of a fence on the trail back to the parking lot.

We drove through the park and decided to turn around at the boundary with Kings Canyon State Park so we could make it back to the construction site when they let traffic through again at 4 pm.  Again our timing was good as we only had to wait about 35 minutes.  Sequoia National Park is beautiful and we were disappointed that we could not hike more.  We will have to come back again and plan our trip later in the summer.

Wednesday we took a route outside of Sequoia park to the north end of Kings Canyon National Park.

Our first stop was at the General Grant Tree Trail.  The General Grant Tree has the greatest base diameter of any sequoia at 40.3 feet.   The tree’s trunk quickly tapers to 29 feet around at 4½ feet above the ground.

Along the trail is the Fallen Monarch, which toppled centuries ago.  Photographs taken of the Fallen Monarch in the late 1800’s show the log has decayed very little in more than 100 years.  The tree was probably hollowed by fire long before it fell.  The log has been used for a variety of things in the past: a temporary home, a hotel and saloon and the US Calvary used it to temporarily stable 32 horses – this is one big log.

To get to the western part of the park we drove along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway through the Sequoia National Forest.  The byway follows the King River through Kings Canyon and the scenery is breath taking.

We saw many beautiful waterfalls.  One we stopped at is Grizzly Falls.

We entered Kings Canyon National Park again and the gorgeous scenery continues.

We stopped at Roaring River Falls

At the end of the road is a short trail to Muir Rock, a large rock where John Muir often addressed groups working to get Kings Canyon declared a national park.  This is a picture taken from that rock. 

This is another beautiful national park that we knew nothing about until we visited it.   We can understand why John Muir and the Sierra Club worked so hard to protect this area.


  1. Very Nice, I used to live in bishop and come into yosemite from Mono lake, Miss those summer days tubing the merced through yosemite during the summer. I used to hang out in kings canyon quite a bit!!!!!! Very nice!!!! Sweet!!!! Brings back fond memories.....


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