Is it a coincidence that many stories start by entering a dark and enchanted forest? That there is magic deep deep in the woods? Don’t believe me? Go see majestic giants of the Sequoia National Park, and you’ll become a believer. Just the name Sequoiadendron giganteum sounds like some Tolkien invention. As we rode through the trees, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the presence of a 2,000 year old alien species. That these giant beings might just wake up and announce that they had been guarding the planet for the past 2,000 years. Can you imagine the trouble we would be in, if that ever happened?!
We planned a mini road trip to Sequoia National Park last weekend and it was beautiful! I’m jotting a quick guide to help you plan a trip, because there are definitely things I would do differently. One being actually camping out there and soaking up the presence of nature.
We saw the General Sherman Tree– It’s a .5 mile walk down from the parking lot. Warning, its uphill all the way back! I wanted to ride through the tunnel tree, but I think we missed a turn somewhere.
Just an idea…stop at a Bravo Farms in Travers or Visalia and pack a cooler with lunch. There are plenty of places to have a picnic and enjoy nature.
A mini riding guide to Sequoia.
1. Check the Weather and also know that Summer is Busy
We decided to go right smack in the middle of July namely because it was our anniversary (4 years! Ah!) and we thought this would work as a quick getaway. Also, for some reason we think fun & quick getaway = riding for 18 hours, sleeping and then waking up and doing it again the next day. If you’re like us this guide is for you!
We rode up through Bakersfield through the main Three Rivers entrance to the park. It was a 100 degrees through Bakersfield, Porterville and pretty much all the way up to 7,000 feet above sea level. We weren’t that concerned because the weather inside the park was supposed to be 65 degrees and we were planning to get to the park around 12pm, thus missing most of the heat. DID NOT HAPPEN. The park was super-hot and there is no shade until you get up to the Avenue of the Giants.
Also, obviously, the summer months are going to be super busy. There are tons of people and all the parking lots are pretty much full at every spot that you want to stop at. If you’re on a motorcycle, finding parking is not a really a problem, so it’s not so bad.
2. Buy Your Pass Ahead of Time
Since it’s hot and busy, I would also recommend to buy your park pass ahead of time. We had to wait in line at the entrance for about 10-15 minutes. When you’re in a helmet and gear, and have sweat rolling down your face, that 15 minutes is draining. Plus, you can download an app on your phone, so you don’t have to mess around with pulling out your wallet and credit cards while holding the bike. Plus.
Entrance to the park is $20 for motorcycles. If your planning for some time in 2017, looks like the fee goes up to $25. Check out the fees and download the app here: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/fees.htm
3. Where to Stay?
Depending on far Sequoia is from your starting point and how much riding (or walking) your doing through the park, there are several lodging options.
Three Rivers is the foothill at the main entrance to the park. It has a small town feel and lovely scenery that makes you really feel like you’ve escaped from the city. This is probably the best bet if you want to stay close to the park and do several trips into the park or back roads. We did a loop from the main entrance and then back through CA 245 that will drop you off at Woodlake Junction. Check out the Mountian Bar. 🙂 From there it’s a short distance back to Three Rivers. http://threeriversvillage.com/index.html
We did not stay there, unfortunately. If you’re looking for something more budget friendly the cities of Visalia and Tulare are about 40 minutes from the park entrance. Visalia is definitely a small city and has everything that a city would, Targets, Walmarts, Hotels, etc. We stayed right on the edge of Tulare and Visalia. Which is mostly farmland and orange trees.
There’s also several lodging options inside the park. Next time we go; I would definitely go this route. Ever since we stayed right on the rim of the Grand Canyon, I’ve thought that nothing beats being right in the middle of everything. https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/lodging.htm