California Road Trip - Sequoia National Park
During our Thanksgiving trip to California, we decided to venture and explore some of the diversities the state has to offer.When I say this state has everything, I mean everything: who would ever think that the US Sunshine State with its beautiful warm beaches also has a giant mountain range where it snows so much that you're obligated to put chains on the wheels of the car in order to just drive around?
The snow wasn't the main reason for this place to be in our trip, but instead we had our sights set on the giant forest, home of the Sequoias, that houses the largest trees in volume on the planet! These giants reach the height of a 30-story building and are the largest known living organism. Because there are not so many of them anymore, they are actually considered a living fossil.
The journey takes aprox 3.5 hrs from Los Angeles to Three Rivers, a small town few km from one of the entrances of the Park. This is also the last point for shopping; whether you need camping items, snacks or the chains required for driving in the park during the Winter, get them here before you can’t anymore! The park entrance is $ 20 per car
As we drive by the endless curves of the hills, the landscape changes completely, until we finally arrive at what looks like a Christmas card from the Swiss mountains!
We parked at the Museum lot and from there we began to walk towards Moro Rock, a granite dome rock that sits atop the mountain, clearly visible even from below :
40 minutes deep into the forest, we face the huge Sequoia trees.
I grew up playing at the base of trees in the botanical garden of Rio and always thought there wasn't anything greater in the world. What a mistake!
What is most impressive is that they are as thick to the very top.
Honey, I shrunk the kids!
No wonder it's called the forest of giants, we feel very little beside them !!
A striking feature of these trees is that they are quite resistant to fire. Despite what looks to be like a massively tough trunk, when we touch them they are actually very soft, almost sponge-like.
Unfortunately, there are still scars on some trees from when they were tried to be brought down.
Arriving at “the Rock”, it was time to face the 400 steps till the top…..not an easy task with the icy slippery stairs.It is worth noting that we ONLY did it because we had the appropriate boots and we were holding on to the handrail the whole time.
Make sure you come prepared for this wonderfully treacherous journey!
At the top was the most breathtaking view – a 360 degrees scene of the huge valley ahead and the mountains of the National Park.
Returning to the track, we took a peek at the small museum and then went to see the famous General Sherman. As the most important tree in the park, it is the world's largest in volume, an impressive 31 meters in circumference and 83 tall !!
Comparing the size of sequoias with a space rocket and the Statue of Liberty .
Because it was winter, some attractions were already closed such as the Crystal Grove, a cave ‘decorated’ with stalagmites. Due to snowfall the previous days, some roads were also impassable to vehicles, which prevented us from seeing the Tunnel Log – a tunnel forged from a fallen sequoia tree turned tunnel. Just a tip for those who visit the park in the warmer months or have more than one day to explore it ! ;-)
With the sun setting at 4:30 pm , all we had left was to drink a hot chocolate at the only hotel in the park- Wuksachi Village Lodge- a charming " hut " that accepts visits from even non-guests in search of a fireplace.
Not that bad! Cheers!!