Sequoia National Park is in central California just an hour or so from Fresno. I had the day off from my work and thought I would check it out. One of the main incentives I had to go on this little day trip was Bakersfield (where I was working) was going to have a high that day of 105 degrees Fahrenheit while the park at a significantly higher altitude had a high of 89, after a week at well over one hundred degrees, I was instantly sold and on my way up.
The trip to the park was interesting in itself. Coming from the west there is quite a bit of prairie farmland and quaint little stops. What I thought was the most interesting was Lake Kaweah, there was a small marina on the lake, called Lemon Park, where the locals all lashed their pontoons together and were having a great ol’ time.
When I got about a mile from the entrance to the park, the traffic stopped. This was the beginning of the crowds, the endless, unyielding, and unending crowds. I had come to the park in the middle of June, I’m sure its busiest time of the year, and boy was it that. After waiting to get into the park in my car for an hour or so, I was met with a very friendly and pleasant ranger who took my money to get in.
The road through the park is SO MUCH FUN, or would be if you could go above 15 miles an hour. The traffic was very intense, with the first visitors center being 2-3 miles up, along the road, before it rises into the forest, it follows a river with a few pullover places where one can get out and get up to it for a photo-op.
To get to the sequoia portion of the Sequoia National Forrest, it is about an hour drive up into the mountains. And the forest is really beautiful, Lush and green and full of wildflowers. It is also Choc Full O’ People, and I mean it, EVERYWHERE. There are Busses full of people, family vacations, and locals coming up to beat the heat.
What all of that means is there is little parking, and lots of cars on very narrow roads, so be careful. It also means lots of lines, of which I am not a huge fan of. I did find though that you can wander off in places and be alone, in nature, which is, as far as I’m concerned, what forests are for.
Tips and Details:
Sequoia National Park
- Summer is the height of tourist season if you can visit in Spring or Fall. The National Park Service website has some good tips for beating the crowds.
- $30 per vehicle. That is steep but the pass is good for 7 days and includes Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and Hume Lake District of Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument. So, the longer you stay in the area the better the deal.
Getting there –
- Los Angeles – 203 miles ≅ 3 1/2 hours
- San Fransisco – 262 miles ≅ 4 hours 15 minutes
- Yosemite – 191 miles ≅ 3 1/2 hours (from visitor center to visitor center)