A Land of Giants: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks — October 2015 & August 2017

Sequoia will always be one of my favorite parks because of how wide and tall the trees are. I feel small standing next to skyscrapers in NYC but standing next to their tree counterparts out in the forest makes me feel smaller because it reminds me just how big the natural world is. I love feeling small in this world because it shows just how much there is to discover and it reminds me that, in the grand scheme of things, some of my worries are actually pretty small too.

I’ve been to Sequoia twice and loved both times. When I went in October 2015, it was the perfect fall weather: breezy yet sunny, with a few trees changing colors here and there. Going in August this past year was equally great, with the added bonus of going to Kings Canyon for the first time.

In 2015 we stayed at a campsite within Sequoia National Park. I don’t remember the campsite name but I’m sure all of the campgrounds are great. However during my 2017 trip I discovered the beauty of camping in National Forests instead.

I can’t stop raving about Stony Creek Campground in Sequoia National Forest! It’s right between the two national parks allowing you to visit one park and then the next within the same weekend. Since it’s in a National Forest rather than the park, it’s slightly less crowded and easier to book last minute because most people try to secure campsites within the parks (and for good reason, but don’t ignore the forests!). The campground is near Stony Creek Lodge which has food, a gas station, showers, etc. and the tent sites are spacious and flat. When booking a site, I always like to refer to Campsite Photos which has images of sites at most campgrounds. It’s always helpful to know if your site is flat!

 

 

On my first visit we just visited Sequoia and went to all of the classics such as the General Sherman Tree (the world’s largest tree according to volume) and hiking to Crescent Meadow.

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But my favorite part of the trip was going to Moro Rock at sunset. Moro Rock is a must-see, but it’s not for the feint-hearted. In about 1/4 of a mile, you climb about 400 steps over 300 feet of elevation on a path that hugs the edge of the rock. But it’s worth it!

 

 

Once at the top, you’re greeted with a 360 degree view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Mountains on one side, valley on the other. It’s something I’ll always remember. I visited Moro Rock both trips, once during the day and once at sunset, and both times were worth it.

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From the top!

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On my second trip to the area we were able to visit Kings Canyon where even more beauty awaited us! We took the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway down into the canyon, all the way to the Rae Lakes Loop Trailhead where the road ends. There are a lot of amazing trails along that road but since we were short on time, we decided to just walk along the creek (I think the trail was the Zumwalt Meadow And Roaring River Falls trail). Part of what made this trail so great is that the decision to walk along it was completely spontaneous. We had no idea what we would encounter but we weren’t worried. We knew we would happen upon something great no matter where we went.

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We made our way to Zumwalt Meadow and were in awe of the huge meadow surrounded by towering peaks. Alas, I didn’t get a good photo of it but I’ll always have my memories.

Another place we stopped along the road was Hume Lake. We ended up renting a four person stand-up paddle board which, it turns out, is essentially a big inflatable mattress with paddles. It was really hard to stand up, which made it all the more fun! The lake was beautiful and the lawn next to it is perfect for having a picnic lunch. In addition to one and multi-person paddle boards, they also have kayaks, canoes, etc.

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There’s so much more that you can explore in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks but I’m satisfied with all that I saw. But more importantly, I had an amazing time with the people I went. Good company is what makes or breaks a trip, and my trips to the Land of the Giants was 100% made. And the trip wouldn’t be complete until you hugged a tree…a massive, massive tree. So here you go!

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This was taken on an iPhone using the panorama feature. If you use the panorama setting and rotate down-up rather than left-right, you can get the whole tree in the photo!

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