Time: May 22-24, 2015
Place: Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks
Company: Wife and daughter
Just like last year, we had nothing planned until the very last minute although this time we had an inkling that we will head to Sequoia. Reason why we had not planned was because the weather prediction said it will rain over the weekend. But it also predicted snow showers until the Memorial day long weekend. So we hoped we could ski in May! Hence, last minute packing and plans. Booked only for Friday night halt at Red Roof Inn the day before departure thinking there might not be too much to see or explore for more than one day. But we were mistaken.
Day 0: Left on Friday at 5 pm in own car. Considering that the nps website said snow chains were mandatory for many roads, and seeing review comments that some visitors without snow chains were sent back from the entrance, our first stop was on a nearby Walmart but alas, they said it was seasonal and didn’t have it in stock. So, we continued on. Our next stop was at a rest area which we turned into a picnic spot. Nice little packed dinner with the setting sun at 8 pm and good time for the kiddo to run around and have fun. Continued on to find another Walmart in Fresno, saying no to us. Finally, reached Red Roof Inn at Tulare at about 11 pm and retired.
Day 1: Left at about 9 am to AutoZone to ask about snow chains. Again, same response – not in stock. Took the chance, and continued to Sequoia National Park entrance from Three Rivers side. Found one more store which said Snow Chains available. Just before buying, however, I called up the Park and enquired if the snow chains were really needed and they said no! All the shops we visited were utter waste!! Anyways, thanking ourselves that we didn’t end up buying, we continued on to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.
After a short break at the visitor’s center, our first stop was at General Sherman Tree – the World’s largest tree. A short trek down from summer parking and we were welcomed by a series of large trees. Very majestic indeed. It was quite cold though, in 40s. After clicking a few pictures, we then took two shuttles to Moro Rock. However finding Moro Rock too cloudy (a series of steps that leads to more clouds!) and with zero visibility, we continued in the same shuttle to Crescent meadow. A nice enough meadow, with a small simple trail and quite quiet. However, suddenly, at a distance we saw a bunch of people quite excited and pointing fingers at a faraway point whereupon we saw couple of bears grazing! It was quite a chilling thought to see untamed bears so close! Silently, we continued on, took some snaps and enjoyed the thrill of the adventure. Then took another couple of shuttles back to our parking lot at Sherman tree. Shuttles are mandated at some roads to avoid overcrowding of personal vehicles.
Although, all through the day it was cloudy, it hardly ever rained suffice for a few drops. But it was definitely cold due to the elevation. And we could feel ourselves being inside the traveling clouds. Once back inside the warmth of our car, we had our home-made packed lunch and then thought about next plan of action. Since it was already about 5 pm, and house was about 6 hrs away, it would have been a long journey back home. Also, we were not sure what we were missing in King’s Canyon. So, we decided to head back to Fresno to stay overnight, head back to King’s Canyon the next day and then return at nightfall.
At about 6:30 pm, still 1.5 hrs from Fresno, we came across Sequoia Kings Canyon motel - in the small city of Squaw valley - which displayed a Vacancy board. Expecting the rate to be upwards of $150 since it was a long weekend, we were shocked that it was just $80, with breakfast included!! Unbelieving, we unloaded and enjoyed rest of the evening in the beautiful teeny tiny room. Pizza was right next door and it was delicious.
Day 2: Left at about 9 am after a sumptuous rest. After a quick halt at King’s Canyon visitor center, we headed to Panaromic Point. It was truly Panaromic! What with snow-capped peaks and the overhanging clouds over mountains all around, it was very picturesque indeed! We skipped the General Grant Tree and headed down the King’s Canyon. It was a great drive, very similar to Zion.
There are a bunch of great view points like Yucca point, Junction view, etc. and we took a fair share of pictures. After about an hour, we come right down the canyon beside the gushing river and nature is at its best! Our next stop was at Grizzly falls. It seemed the falls was too thin – not sure if it is because of the drought. Nevertheless, it was nice and refreshing. Then we headed to Roaring River Falls. This one was good too but too far to feel the water fall-mist. Finally we reached the Road’s End and we headed back. On the way, we went to Zumwalt meadow. This was another nice meadow except that there were no bears! But nice scenic views everywhere! Had a quick lunch and finally, we headed back to home sweet home. It was pretty much a non-stop drive apart from few pit stops and we reached home by 8 pm.