Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Well, after Yosemite you’d think these two lesser-known California national parks would disappoint. But I really loved this area.

First of all, it’s much less crowded. Secondly, we had an awesome lodge, as opposed to the fantastically placed but outdated Yosemite Valley Lodge.  We took some great hikes, climbed Moro Rock, saw bears, and got to (literally) hug some truly massive trees.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are two national parks, but they’re sort of packaged together. The visitor guide and all the brochures are together, and entrance fees are combined.

We arrived in the afternoon after spending the morning in Yosemite, so we got a fairly late start. We drove the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, stopping to take photos at scenic vistas and to take a couple of short hikes:

We were very tired when we arrived at our overnight, Wuksachi Lodge, located in Sequoia National Park.

We didn’t have dinner reservations and there were no tables to be had in the dining room, so we sat in the bar and ordered food off the menu. Tonight, we slept well.

The next day we drove the Generals Highway to our destinations: Sherman Tree Trail, Moro Rock, and sequoia trees so large and famous that they’ve been given their own names.

We loved the giant trees and the relative solitude of the hiking trails. At times, we were alone among the trees. Other times, we were hiking with just a few other people. We walked through meadows and along streams and through the oldest living trees on the planet.

How many pictures of trees do you want to see? Probably not very many. They all look pretty much alike. And not one of them really shows how freaking cool these trees are in real life.

Hiking Moro Rock (above) was a fun experience. Also strenuous and a little bit scary and ultimately invigorating. Here are some photos from the trek to the top:

On one hike, we encountered marmots, which look like a beaver without the big, flat tail. I think they’re exceedingly cute.

We also got our first bear sighting of the trip! We’re told these two were probably juveniles, but they seemed HUGE to me.

We had a relaxing evening on the patio, eating pizza with a bunch of people we just met.

The next day, we ended our visit to Kings Canyon and Sequoia with a walk through Grant Grove.

Here are some parting shots:

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