California National Parks
We’ve had a very busy May traveling north through central California. Along the way visiting Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic National Parks. Thank goodness for our National Park Pass it saves us so much and we can enjoy the parks any time of the year!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are in the same area and are managed as one park. Found here are the Giant Sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California, between 4,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation.
We were, however, able to take Generals Highway that connects the two National Parks and provides AMAZING views and access to groves sequoia trees. The General Sherman Tree, in Sequoia NP, and The General Grant Tree, in Kings Canyon NP, are the main attractions!
Let me tell you these trees are bigger than you could ever imagine. Upon seeing one I believe my mouth dropped open; I am not kidding they are HUGE! The General Sherman tree is the biggest tree in the world, by volume! It is 2,200 years old, 300 feet tall, 103 feet in diameter and weighs in at 1,385 tons!
We were also able to drive through a giant sequoia which was really exciting! Appropriately named the Tunnel Log you’ll find it in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park. Normally we are too big for most of these types of things since we drive an F-350 Dually, but we fit just fine with room to spare!
Since we were there early in the season, some of the roads and the visitors’ centers were still closed. However, the plus side of going in May is that the crowds are a lot smaller! We were able to climb up Moro Rock; a huge granite dome rock with a 350 step concrete and stone stairway. With no crowds blocking the way, no rude people shoving past, we were able to enjoy the beauty once we got to the top. It was breathtaking!
Fun Fact: The first stairway leading to the summit of Moro Rock was constructed of wood and installed in 1917. ~wikipedia
While we visited Sequoia NP we stayed in Visalia, California approximately 35 miles from Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks. We stayed in a nice RV Park, Country Manor located right in the town of Visalia. Although Visalia has over 100,000 people it felt like a small hometown, friendly people everywhere, nice shopping areas and convenient places to eat.
Dually tires seem to always pick up nails and screws and this trip has been no different, so frustrating. If you ever are in the area and need a tire fixed visit Visalia Tire & Wheel. These guys were able to get us right in before we had to leave the next morning. They also did our oil change and filter service at the last minute.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite about 2 hours further north but still located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Home to the largest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls did not disappoint! At 2,425 feet tall and is fed by mostly snow-melt and is usually dry by August.
I think Yosemite is one of my favorite parks so far, besides the Grand Canyon, but then again we have only been to 20 parks! The crowds were small here too allowing us to walk right up to the Yosemite Falls on a nice paved trail that is dog-friendly. Seeing this massive waterfall so close was pretty epic!
We are so glad we decided to head out to the parks this time of year and see the waterfalls flowing at full force! When we visited Glacier National Park in August 2017 and most of the waterfalls were dried up so seeing these beautiful falls was amazing! Photographs just don’t show the beauty of the waterfalls. Another beauty was Bridalveil Fall which is 620 feet tall and flows all year long. We took a trail right up to the base of the waterfall. Simply amazing and a dog-friendly trail which is always a plus with Maggie!
The route to Glacier Point, an overlook with a stunning view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, is very scenic! The view here was just as amazing! We could have stayed and looked at this view for hours but it was 42 degrees and windy. Yosemite was, by far, one of the most picturesque places we have ever been to! I would add this to your bucket list for a perfect springtime trip!
Lassen National Park
Last, but certainly not least, we stopped at Lassen Volcanic National Park located in Northern California. It is still winter high up in the mountains so we weren’t able to truly enjoy this park. We will definitely be visiting this park again but the next time will be later in the year.
Lassen is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southernmost non-extinct volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. Lassen peak was still covered in snow and the roads were closed but we could still see how large this volcano truly is. A whopping 10,457 feet tall at the peak! The drive up to the visitor’s center was beautiful and we were able to camp in the parking lot, overnight, for $10.
Central/Northern California did not disappoint. We are use to seeing beaches and palm trees with beautiful oceans in California but our first trip north of Los Angeles proved that California has so much more to offer.
There is still so much more of California to explore but first, on to Oregon and Washington before returning to the California coast later in the summer! So make sure you sign up for our newsletter and continue to follow along. There are plenty of amazing places to visit and things to share that you won’t want to miss!
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