We woke up Friday morning and there was the pull of adventure in the air. There was no fighting it. All we could do was pick a destination and run towards it. I might not suggest trying to find a hotel on a holiday weekend the night before but that is exactly what we did and it worked out beautifully. I am a firm believer that you will only regret the chances you don't take. We got up early Saturday morning and took off for what might be the second best national park ever. That is saying a lot too. Yellowstone will forever be my favorite park. It is like stepping into a time of magic. Sequoia National Park is a lot like that too. You can't be there and not be in awe at the giant creations in front of you.
You could look at a thousand pictures and still not get how incredibly impossible this place seems. It was like the world forgot it was there and just let it grow. Of course our not so little dinosaur crazed one thought it looked like dinosaurs could step out at any moment. She was right though. It looked untouched and unreal. It was also chilly to the point we laughed about it. We are currently spending most of our time in California but our hearts still live in Utah. California and Utah weather couldn't be more different. We knew this cold wouldn't phase us. We were slightly wrong. We broke out the winter coats and gloves but the nip of the chill on our nose still surprised us. Maybe it was going from the swelter of the 90's last week to the 30's of the weekend that was the shocker. It was a great reminder at the blessings we really do have. California makes for an awesome winter experience if you want a short break from snowy driving and scraping windows. And I have strayed way off course again. Sequoia National Park is a must have on every bucket list.
This winter was a big one for California. There was little they could do to prepare for the water and snow that would blanket the state. While it made for amazing rivers and waterfalls, drastically reduced the crippling drought it also took out an iconic drive through tree. The Pioneer Tree in Calaveras Big Tree State Park toppled in a winter storm and just like that it was over. We missed the opportunity to see that tree and it reminded us so much that nothing is forever. Yes these trees have been around for a long long time. No one guessed that this tree was seeing its last winter. This struck us hard. Why wait for tomorrow when you can make it happen today, so we did.
These trees are not just large trees. It is like a forest you have never experienced, unless of course you have already been here. At one point in time people were chopping the trees down to send pieces across the country just to prove they were here. They still weren't believed and people claimed that they were just putting pieces of wood together to make it appear like one large tree. On this slice of tree you see years of details. You can see the rings and get up close to how big these really are.
Winter can make this park a different trip. They offer a winter shuttle to help you get around. They have a lot of cross country ski and snowshoe opportunities as well.
Through out the park we kept hearing the same thing. Fire is the life of this forest. It seems very counter productive to burn the forest to help it live but that is how they do it. The flames clear and fertilize the ground creating the best kind of environment for the seeds to take hold and grow. Fire also opens the cones and makes the seeds rain down from the tops of the trees to the newly prepared soil. The park service was doing controlled burns while we were there and you can see fire scars on a lot of these giant trees. When you have lived for 3000 years you have been around to see some things.
The cost to get in to Sequoia National Park is $30 for a standard vehicle. For $50 you can get an annual pass to both Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Our favorite option is to get the America the Beautiful National Parks annual pass for $80. We picked ours up last year in Yellowstone over the 4th of July and have used it at for well over its value since then. We highly recommend it and we highly recommend using it a lot. Some of our best family memories are made in these parks. Most of them have terrible cell phone service so you can all be less distracted and spend great quality time together.
Get out there and explore.