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Sequoia National Park

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Sequoia National Park

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Introduction

Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 1,635.18 km2. Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 4,000 metres, the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 4,421 metres above sea level. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, one of the largest trees on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park's General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park's giant sequoia forests are part of 81,921 ha of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the parks preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement.

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Sights and Activities

  • Sherman Tree Trail An 0.8-mile roundtrip paved trail that descends from the parking lot to the base of the General Sherman tree and meanders through a grove of giant sequoia trees.
  • Tunnel Log is a tunnel cut through a fallen giant sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park. The tree, which measured 84 metres tall and 6.4 metres in diameter, fell across a park road in 1937 due to natural causes. The following year, a crew cut an 2.4 metres tall, 5.2 metres wide tunnel through the trunk, making the road passable again.
  • Tokopah Falls The trail to Tokopah Falls starts just beyond the Marble Fork Bridge in Lodgepole Campground. It is an easy 3 kilometre walk along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River to the impressive granite cliffs and waterfall of Tokopah Canyon. Tokopah Falls is 366 metres high, and is most impressive in early summer.
  • Crescent Meadow is a small, sequoia-rimmed meadow in the Giant Forest region of Sequoia National Park. This sierran montane meadow marks the western terminus of the High Sierra Trail, which stretches from the meadow across the Great Western Divide to Mount Whitney. Pioneer Hale Tharp homesteaded in this and nearby Log Meadow. Conservationist John Muir visited this meadow many times and praised it highly calling it the "Gem of the Sierras". The meadow lies at the end of a three-mile paved road which leaves the Generals Highway near the Giant Forest Museum.
  • Moro Rock is a granite dome located in the center of the park, at the head of Moro Creek, between Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. A 400-step stairway, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, is cut into and poured onto the rock, so that visitors can hike to the top. The stairway is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The view from the rock encompasses much of the Park, including the Great Western Divide. It has an elevation of 2,050 metres.

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Opening Hours

The parks are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting.

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Cost

Although technically they are two separate national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon generally operate as a single unit in many ways. One fee (US $5 per person or US $20 per private vehicle) allows entrance to both parks.

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Getting There

By Car

The parks are on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, and can only be entered by car from the west. The two main entrances are:

  • Route 180 east from Fresno. This enters the parks at Grant Grove and divides there to go either northeast to the main part of Kings Canyon or southeast to Sequoia. This is the recommended route from Northern California, and from Southern California if one intends to go directly to Kings Canyon.
  • Route 198 northeast from Visalia. This enters Sequoia from the south, and is the recommended route from Southern California. This route is not recommended by the park for long vehicles such as RVs. On 20-kilometre stretch from Potwisha Campground to Giant Forest Museum in Sequoia Park, advised maximum is 22 feet. Maximum length limit on the Generals Highway is 40 feet for single vehicles, 50 feet for vehicles plus a towed unit.

Both of these routes are winding mountain roads; driving speeds will be slower than usual and special conditions will apply in winter.

By Bus

The parks are relatively distant from major cities and airports, and there is no public transportation to the parks, although there is a $15 round trip shuttle from Visalia

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Eat/Drink

Food and shops are available at Grant Grove, Lodgepole, and Cedar Grove visitor centers. Overnight visitors should consider buying some food in advance on the way to the park.

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Sleep

Lodging is available at the Wuksachi Lodge in the Lodgepole area (Sequoia), in the John Muir Lodge and the Grant Grove cabins at Grant Grove Village (Kings Canyon) and at the Cedar Grove Lodge in Cedar Grove (Kings Canyon). Reservations are recommended. Cedar Grove closes for the winter in October.

In addition, a range of hotels and motels are available outside the park, including several lodges in the National Forest (on the road from Grants Grove to Cedar Grove) and motels in Three Rivers (on Route 198 near the southwest entrance).

Camping is the most common way to stay in the park. There are campgrounds available in all areas of the park, although the ones closest to main attractions may require reservations at peak times. All campers should be aware of the presence of bears, and should stow any unattended food in bear-proof containers as instructed by park rangers.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 12:26 on Mar 10, 15 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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