California Journals

California Bold Rush

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A June 2007 trip to California by callen60

Yosemite Valley Photo, Yosemite National Park, California More Photos
Quote: Five days in the Sierras, four National Parks, and one great trip.

California Bold Rush: An Overview

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Story/Tip

Wawona Hotel Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
After reluctantly leaving Sequoia (chronicled in a separate journal) at noon on our second full day of travel, we headed north to Kings Canyon. We explored both sections of this park, the southern one containing Grant Grove and a next-door neighbor to Sequoia; the second and by far the larger section containing some of the nation's most spectacular backcountry.Later that night, we finished a twilight drive from Fresno to Yosemite, for a night at Yosemite’s Wawona Hotel. A welcome change in price and atmosphere from Sequoia's Wuksachi Lodge, this was our favorite accomodation of the trip. An even longer drive the next night brought us to Panamint Springs Resort on the edge of ...Read More

Day Two: Kings Canyon

Grant Grove Village

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Attraction | "From a Tree to a Park"

Grant Grove Village Photo, Sequoia National Park, California
Quote:
This park began with a tree: the General Grant sequoia, and the Grant Grove in which it stands were the nation’s third national park (following Yellowstone and Sequoia). The sequoia groves that dot the western slopes of the Sierras had been caught in a battle between settlers, the railroads, and those who saw dollar signs when they looked at these massive, thick, straight trees. In a legislative blur that’s still not completely understood, Sequoia was established in June of 1890, and a week later, another law set aside a perfect square surrounding the General Grant Tree and the larger sequoia grove it sits in. Both places are clearly the heritage of post-Civil-War America, where the giant ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Grant Grove Village

Sequoia National Park, California
(559) 335-5500

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks

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Attraction | "Great Stop on the Way to Kings Canyon"

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks Photo, Three Rivers, California
Quote:
Caves were an unexpected bonus of our trip into the Sierras. I’d read about Boyden Cavern in AAA’s California TourBook as we planned our trip. A subterranean exploration sounded good to my daughter, so as we drove up Kings Canyon, we pulled off into a parking area that barely fit between the river and the mountains.This cavern lies in Sequoia National Forest, between the two sections of Kings Canyon National Park. To get there from Sequoia NP, you exit out the northwest corner, and then make a giant U-turn on Highway 180, which eventually dead ends in the middle of Kings Canyon NP. It’s almost 15 miles from ‘the Wye’ intersection just south of Grant Grove in the section of Kings Can...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers 93271
(559) 565-3341

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks

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Attraction | "Remote 'rival to the Yosemite'"

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks Photo, Three Rivers, California
Quote:
In the vast Sierra wilderness, far to the southward of the famous Yosemite Valley, there is yet a grander valley of the same kind. It is situated on the south fork of the Kings River, above the most extensive groves and forests of the giant sequoia, and beneath the shadows of the highest mountains in the range, where canyons are the deepest and the snow-laden peaks are crowded most closely together.—John Muir, 1891This is a line of a park, perhaps a Yosemite squeezed into a tighter cross-section and thus without the broad valley floor. Without the crowds, too: it’s not easy to reach, but we were rewarded with spectacular views down the narrow river valley, its sheer granite rock fa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers 93271
(559) 565-3341

Day Three: Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

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Attraction | "One Day in Yosemite"

Wawona Hotel Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
Another place championed by John Muir, it could be the world’s famous valley. There’s far more here, although the crowds that flock to this park concentrate on the valley floor. It’s not hard to see why: whether we gazed down and over Yosemite Valley from Washburn or Glacier Point, or looked down the full length of the Valley from Tunnel View, or stood in the Merced River and gaped up at the walls all around us, this place is so beautiful it’s nearly surreal.We spent less than 24 hours here, but we loved it. And we saw a lot. We stayed at Wawona Hotel, which I heartily recommend as an alternative to valley lodging in high volume summer season. You’ll do more driving, but it's relaxe...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 18, 2008

Yosemite National Park
Sierra Nevada
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
(209) 372-0200

Wawona Hotel

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Hotel | "Old but Wonderful"

Wawona Hotel Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
After a mildly disappointing night at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia, staying at Wawona was exactly the experience we’d been hoping for. We arrived at Yosemite late on Saturday night, ending a full day that took us through three national parks and an awful lot of other countryside—including the surreal experience of descending from the mountains into sprawling Fresno, negotiating city traffic as dusk fell, and heading north and back up into the mountains under the stars.After a quick fast food meal in Oakhurst, the border town that provides much of the tourist infrastructure on Yosemite’s south side, we passed the park boundary and entrance sign in near-perfect darkness. After a few obligatory ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Wawona Hotel
Route 41, Curry Vlg South Entrance
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
(209) 375-6572

Mariposa Grove

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Attraction | "Yosemite's Big Trees"

Mariposa Grove Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
We had one day to explore one of the most beautiful places on earth. We were all right with that; we thought it was better than zero. It was a nice illustration that you can have a full and satisfying day in a place that has enough to fill weeks. Neither my daughter nor I would argue that we completely ‘saw’ Yosemite, but we were glad we’d come.We arrived at Wawona Hotel at 10pm on Friday. We finally left Sequoia National Forest, the Chicago Stump, and our possible near-bear experience around 7pm, crossed through the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park, and then descended and reascended the Sierras. The descent was at sunset; the ascent at dusk and then in darkn...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 17, 2008

Mariposa Grove
Mariposa Grove
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
209/372-0200

Glacier Point Trail Hike

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Attraction | "Glacier Point: Yosemite's Highlight"

Glacier Point Trail Hike Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
Yosemite is a big place. It’s a 90-minute drive from Mariposa Grove to Yosemite Valley. Shortly before the turnoff to the Valley, you reach another to Glacier Point. It takes a half-hour to head down this road, which gradually approaches the rim of the glacier-carved rim. There are a number of turnoffs and trailheads, but we’d reluctantly pared our itinerary back to Glacier Point itself, passing on hikes to Taft Point and Sentinel Dome, or a climb from (or descent to) the Valley floor.You reach Badger Pass Ski Area after about four miles of climbing on Glacier Point Road. The road turns straight north here, with the parking area for Taft Point 3 miles ahead on your left. The road bears nor...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 19, 2008

Glacier Point Trail Hike
Southside Drive
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
+1 209 372 0200

Yosemite Valley

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Attraction | "Under Yosemite's Walls"

Yosemite Valley Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
As we left Glacier Point, the limitations on our visit to Yosemite were becoming apparent. It was just after 11, we were waiting our turn at the ‘facilities’ by the parking lot, and we were at least an hour away from the Valley itself. Neither of us was disappointed in the morning we’d spent among Mariposa’s sequoias, or atop Glacier Point, but we knew we’d be leaving Yosemite in about five hours and we’d already fallen in love with the place.We rejoined Wawona Road at Chinquapin and headed north, finally turning east after another five miles. We entered the famous tunnel that serves as gateway to Yosemite Valley, and emerged into a wonderland at Tunnel View. Thankfully, we found a parking...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 20, 2008

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, California

Driving Tioga Road

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Attraction | "Leaving Yosemite"

Olmsted Point Photo, Yosemite National Park, California
Quote:
Leaving the Valley towards the north, you join Big Oak Flat Road, which heads towards the junction with the Tioga Road at Crane Flat. If you continue past the turn to Tioga, you’ll leave the park at the Big Oak Flat Entrance, where you can either turn west towards civilization or north to eventually re-enter the park and head to Hetch Hetchy Valley.Hetch Hetchy was John Muir’s great defeat: the water interests of the swelling San Francisco area overcame his resistance, and damned the Tuolumne River following Congress’ authorization in 1914. I’d love to visit this site, and offer my own hopes that efforts to remove the dam will finally bear fruit. But on this visit, there wouldn’t be time....Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 20, 2008

Driving Tioga Road
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, California

Day Four: Death Valley

Panamint Springs Resort

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Hotel | "Not a Resort, but Still a Welcome Sight"

Panamint Springs Resort Photo, Death Valley, California
Quote:
There are an awful lot of character-free lodgings, and far too many in places where a visitor has every right to expect something different. Death Valley hardly seemed a place to expect something typical, whether a generic low-end motel room, or equally character-free high-end lodging. As we pulled into Panamint Springs, we would have settled for nearly anything without complaint. This was the longest haul of our day’s end journeys, a trip that began that morning in Wawona at Yosemite’s southern end, took us in and out of that park’s gorgeous valley, and then up over the Tioga Road and the continental divide and down to US 395 along the eastern edge of the Sierras. It was a terrific trip, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Panamint Springs Resort
Highway 190
Death Valley National Park 93555
(775) 482-7680

Death Valley National Park

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Attraction | "Death Valley Day"

Death Valley National Park Photo, Death Valley, California
Quote:
After watching the sunrise from Panamint Springs, we headed further east into Death Valley. Given how quickly the temperature shoots up after sunrise, I was surprised we didn’t see any of our fellow guests up and about. It’s still comfortable in Death Valley at 7 am; but you can tell it’s going to be a scorcher. We headed down the road, now able to see the stark surroundings that we missed on our nighttime arrival. There was one more ridge of mountains (the Cottonwoods) to climb and descend: Death Valley owes its shape and elevation (or lack thereof) to one accident of geology, and its dryness to another. Spreading tectonic plates, one headed west to the Pacific and the other east to Nevad...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 11, 2008

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley P.o. Box 579
Death Valley, California 92328
(760) 786-3200