Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were the last stops on our Northern California Road Trip. Both parks lie in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Central California, about 230 miles north of Los Angeles and about 275 miles southeast of San Francisco. And, even though Kings Canyon and Sequoia sit adjacent to one another, there is a distinct difference between them. Kings Canyon features dramatic vistas, rock faces, and valleys while Sequoia is more heavily wooded and gets its name from the absolutely massive trees that grow throughout the park. Estimated to be up to 2,700 years old, these giants rise nearly 300 feet tall and are more than 100 feet around. Even more interesting is that they can only be found here on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada where they flourish.
Sequoia is also home to the General Sherman tree, which by its sheer volume, is known as the largest living single stem tree on Earth. ON EARTH PEOPLE!!!! It was so tall that I couldn’t photograph the whole thing but here is the best shot I took. I felt honored just to be in its presence!
You can also drive through a fallen tree log tunnel! But don’t worry all you tree-huggers, this old gal wasn’t cut down, she died of natural causes…..may she rest in peace!
I know it seems somewhat strange to get so excited about trees, but these glorious specimens are knockouts and I can guarantee you will be in absolute awe. Don’t take my word for it though, pictures in no way do this park justice and it’s one of those natural wonders you simply need to experience in person.
Morning coffee here beats the hell out of Starbucks any day of the week!
And finally, there is no way I could post about Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks without giving a huge shout out to our home away from home for the three days we were there–Our amazing vrbo rental Crystal Cove in Three Rivers. Like the Sequoia trees, pictures don’t do Crystal Cove justice (the short video above from the vrbo website above may). This beautiful property is centrally located between either park entrance and the town of Three Rivers offers everything from an amazing grocery store that serves full meals to go to a few great dining options.
The local favorite, and ours as well, were the lemon ricotta pancakes at The Ol’ Buckeroo–a unique and delicious food truck dining experience with covered outdoor seating and great service.
And, despite the grandeur of both the National Parks, our most cherished memory of our stay was sitting down by the river at Crystal Cove with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning or a bottle of wine after a day of exploring–feet dangling into the cool water of the Kaweah River listening to the rushing waterfalls and observing the abundant wildlife. In warmer months, I imagine it would be blissful using the river as a private plunge pool to cool off and relax after a long day of hiking the parks. We loved sitting down there so much that we scheduled one day to do just that and it was the perfect way to end our 9 day road trip. All too often, we rent a great place to stay and then don’t spend enough time really enjoying it but we did this time around. And just as soothing as the river at Crystal Cove is during the day, the sound of the river and waterfalls lull you to sleep at night.
Did I also mention that there were bears in the neighborhood? While this may scare some, we were beside ourselves and just giddy at our first sighting…and second….and third. It happened to be that we were there during a time when acorns were falling like rain from the trees and the bears were coming down from the hills to fill their bellies before the long winter hibernation. How lucky were we?