A February 2001 trip
to Sequoia National Park by gonewriting
Quote: The Giant Sequoia Trees are not to be missed by any nature lover in North America!
Sequoia National Park is one such place. But, if you want to visit the magnificent sequoia trees under a different light, go in the winter! As long as you don’t mind a little ice on the roads and a feeling of almost total solitude.
Some of the roads to the most popular sites will most likely be closed in winter, but the ancient forests transform to a wonderland of white magic.
The reddish-brown trunks of the sequoias seem much more pronounced sprouting from the pure white floor. Wildlife dances around, surprised at the infrequent cars that crackle through the snowplowed roads.
Just in my short visit there, I saw plenty of deer, many different species of birds, and a coyote.
This lodging is actually in Kings Canyon National Park 30 miles northwest of the Giant Forest in Sequoia, but is a good starting point if you are driving south while visiting the twin National Parks.
There are 30 hotel rooms (one or two queen beds with private bath and phone), 24 rustic cabins with a central bathhouse, and 19 rustic tent cabins with a central bathhouse.
The Village has a restaurant, gift shop and market. Open year-round.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 13, 2001
Grant Grove Village
Sequoia National Park, California
There are over 1,200 campsites and a number of lodges throughout Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks – but since this is about Sequoia, I will concentrate on only that park.
Boasts spectacular views of Mount Sillman and Silver peak. There are 102 guest rooms that are in three different price categories. This lodge is open year-round. NOTE: I did not see this lodge so cannot comment on the experience.
Call: (559)565-4070 for more info Reservations: 1-888-252-5757
Bearpaw Meadow Camp
This is a backcountry meadow tent hotel available for up to 12 hikers that take the 11.5 mile trail from Crescent Meadow. Open mid-June to mid-September – weather permitting of course. Bedding, towels, linens, meals and showers are provided. NOTE: I visited during the winter, so did not stay here – though this would be my choice during summer. Reservations are required. (888)252-5757
NOTE: All campgrounds (except Atwell Mill and Cold Springs) in Sequoia have bearproof storage boxes – which you are required to use to store your food. Rent or purchase them in Grant Grove, Cedar Grove, and Lodgepole shops or at Mineral King Ranger Station.
Lodgepole: $16 per night in summer (free after heavy snow) 250 sites, elevation 6,700 ft. Toilets, bearproof storage boxes, pay phone, laundromat, service station, camper store, deli, gift shop. NOTE: in winter, only the parking area is plowed.
Dorst: $16 per night with reservation, 218 sites, elevation 6,800 ft. Toilets, phone, sanitary disposal station. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Buckeye Flat: $14 per night, 28 sites, elevation 2,800 ft. Toilets. Open in summer only. No trailers or RVs.
Potwisha: $14 per night, 44 sites, elevation 2,100 ft. Toilets, phone, sanitary disposal station.
South Fork: $8 per night mid-May through October (free rest of year), 13 sites, elevation 3,600 ft. Pit toilets, no drinking water. No trailers or RVs.
Atwell(Mineral King area): $8 per night late May through September (then water is turned off and no fees charged) 21 sites, elevation 6,650 ft. Pit toilets, phones, horses in summer. Road closed from November 1 to Memorial Day. No trailers or RVs.
Cold Springs(Mineral King area): same as Atwell – except has 40 sites and elevation is 7,500 ft.
If you ever want to feel like you’re truly walking in the Land of the Lost, then take an aimless stroll under the giant sequoia trees. You’ll half expect to see a dinosaur peek around one of them to glance at you as you would an ant, and continue stretching his neck to sniff the sequoia disappearing into the sky.
The giant sequoias can reach a height of 311 feet and can live for 3,200 years! The bark that protects these trees can be 31 inches thick!
To get to Sequoia NP:
from Fresno take Highway 180 East for approximately 70 miles
from Visalia take Highway 198 East for approximately 45 miles
from Bakersfield take Highway 65 North for approx. 59 miles to Highway 198 East for approx. 20 miles.
(NOTE: No access from the Eastern side of the Park)
A Bit of History:
Sequoia National Park is America’s second oldest national park, after Yellowstone, and was established in 1890. Together, with Kings Canyon –its adjoining national park- the land area set aside covers over 860,000 acres. Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet, is the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states. It is found on the eastern border of Sequoia National Park and is not accessible by car.
Natives have inhabited these ancient forests since prehistoric times. Gabriel Moraga was the first European to venture into the area in 1806 and named the great river he found "El Rio de los Santos Reyes" : The River of the Holy Kings – which was later shortened to Kings River. It was not long before loggers had cut down a third of the magnificent trees! (Do we Caucasian people have to ruin everything!!)
John Muir was one of the leaders in saving this land, but efforts continuously failed. Finally, the people of a nearby town, Visalia, continued the battle which was won when President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill that established Sequoia National Park.
Named by John Muir, the Giant Forest is the most famous attraction. In it, you can find the General Sherman Tree, which is named the largest living tree in the world. Believed to be around 2,100 years old, the Sherman Tree is over 102 feet in circumference at ground level!
Also found in the Giant Forest area is Moro Rock, a large granite dome on which you can climb a foot trail to the top to get a wonderful view of the Great Western Divide.
Named after the first non-native settler in the area that built a cabin out of a single fallen sequoia log. It is the oldest pioneer cabin in the park.
Of the more than 200 caves in the area, Crystal Cave is the one visited by tourists. The limestone that has metamorphosed into marble is said to be an awesome sight. NOTE: it can only be toured in the summer.
A glacial valley that is said to be a "hiker’s heaven" with 11 different trails. The constant sharp turns along the road that lead here make this about an hour and a half drive. NOTE: there are two campgrounds near Mineral King – no trailers permitted.