Trees Larger than Your Living Room
Kings Canyon | Sequoia National Park
Ever want to escape your day to day routine and just be wowed by nature? Have your senses blown away as you walk among some of the world's largest and oldest living organisms. Tap into that wanderlust and give yourself a weekend getaway in the majestic Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
We started our day at sunrise to give us a little more time to cover ground, and enjoy the beautiful morning light sprinkle over the landscape. We entered the park on HWY 180: Kings Canyon Scenic Byway and drove all the way to Road’s End. The foothills of the 180 are super windy, so don't forget that dramamine if you're prone to car sickness. There are a few lodges at the base entrance, however we opted to stay in this cute little Airbnb a few miles outside of the park.
Along 180, we explored the meadow at Princess Campground which you'll pass only 34 min after you enter the park. In the early mornings a beautiful layer of fog softly moves through the damp grass. Grizzly Falls is a powerful 80ft waterfall that's only a half hour from Princess Campground. You can see it from the road, and can easily access it once you're parked. Be prepared for lots of mist and powerful gusts of rushing water if you visit during spring or early summer. Bring a poncho or some waterproof mascara if you're trying to keep up that face. Only 10 minutes away you'll cross Roaring River Falls which will leave you equally as wet.
You may have heard about Knapp's Cabin - and no you can't rent it out. It's there as a landmark, so you would have a few critters as bedmates if you tried to sleep over night. It does however offer sweeping views of the valley, plus who doesn't want to snoop through an old, abandoned cabin?
Then we cut over to HWY 198 and headed south. You do have to backtrack on 180 to get there, but don't let that discourage you; You'll get a dramatically different perspective on the drive back. Once you get to HWY 198, you'll hit a ton of great hot spots back to back.
Our first major stop on the 198: General Sherman Tree, which is the world's largest tree. It stands at 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base. If you live in LA this tree might be larger than your studio. You can easily visit it in an hour but expect a crowd. Want to avoid the lines? Go visit some other spectacles like sister trees growing together or other groves just off the trail. Get your photo opp, then enjoy a little peace and quiet while you soak in the view.
Have you ever driven through a tree? Now is your chance with the Tunnel Log! This tree decided to take a permanent nap right here in Sequoia National Park in 1938. You'll be forced to drive through this tree if you're heading to Crescent Meadows, so lift your feet and raise your hands to make a wish. How many people can say they've driven through a tree tunnel?
Above all these gems, we highly recommend doing Crescent Meadows and Log Meadows at the same time since they're intertwined and offer contrasting views. These are fairly simple hikes, but you might cross some avid backpackers making their way up the High Sierra Trail. Wild travelers aren't the only wildlife you'll encounter here. Be cautious of the occasional brown bear, snakes, spiders, and not to mention Mr. Fog! Don't forget to lock up your treats and smell-good toiletries in the provided safes... the bears might mistake your shampoo for berries - yikes!!
In Crescent Meadows, you'll have the opportunity to feel like a lost boy in Peter pan at the Chimney Tree. Hollowed out and open up top, you can actually walk inside this tree and feel snuggly safe with a natural skylight. Fun little fact: the bark on sequoias are actually fire resistant which is why you might find several hollow ones in nature.
TIPS + TRICKS:
1) Be sure to gas up before you enter the park! We were told there aren't any gas stations inside the park, but we did come across one on 198 between 180 and General Sherman.
2) Some trails require permits so make sure to plan ahead if you want to do some serious hiking.
3) You can find directions to most of these locations on your iPhone's Maps app. HOWEVER: There is no service in the park, so be sure to download the map to your iPhone before you go! You can even plug in multiple locations at once.
4) If you're hoping to stay overnight in the park, check out South Fork Campground. Head to the southeast corner of the park to avoid the crowds, RV's, and trek into a hike in campground that's tents only. We didn't have time to experience, it however if we weren't crunched on time we can guarantee it's worth the effort.