Sequoia National Park

The biggest living thing on earth, with crowd for comparison.


Sequoia National Park, adjacent to King’s Canyon, has a lot more than sequoias; in fact, the Sierra Nevadas turn out to be more awe-inspiring than the trees.

View of the Sierras from near Muir Grove

Sequioa is a short trip from Cedar Grove in King’s Canyon. It’s a strange park – all the roads are on the west side and the bulk of the park is only accessible by overnight backpacking. There’s a lot going on, actually: mountains, sequoias and even caves. On the first day I grabbed a campsite – very tough on labor day weekend and I got one of the last two available. Good timing!

Past the Muir Grove, this isolated open area had a great view.

From the campground, the John Muir grove of sequoias was accessible two miles away. A simple hike, the grove is very impressive. These trees aren’t much smaller than the famous ones the crowds adore, but I had them to myself. Pushing past the grove I had a beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada range. I read for a while on the rocks nearby and then returned to the campground.

Some of the pines have these huge cones; the cones for sequoias are surprisingly much smaller.

Later I wanted to go on another hike directly from the campground, but it was impossible to find the trail. Instead I took the shuttle bus to the General Sherman tree – the biggest living thing on earth. Like many of these large trees, it’s tough to get a feel for the size, especially since the tree is protected by a fence.

The trail to Moro Rock

There was another short (3 mile), unoccupied trail by which I returned to the visitor center. Waiting for the bus back I talked to an intern who was measuring how many people used the bus on the busy weekends (quite a few). And the bus – one of the last trips of the day – was filled with Jamaicans who were on an exchange program, working for the park.

I’m in a tree.

The next morning I hit some of the major attractions early, before they got crowded. I drove my car through a tree trunk – a rare honor! And I hiked the stairs up to Moro Rock, which had the very best view I’ve seen so far – hampered though it was by some fog and the low sun. This rock promontory stands far out in the middle of nowhere. The twisted stairs and slants up to the summits were pretty stomach-turning for those with an aversion to heights, but it was worth it to me.

‘Curtains’ in Crystal Caverns

I also visited one of the many caves in the park (but the only one open to the public). This ‘crystal cavern’ is the first ‘normal’ cave I’ve visited on the trip, with the usual calcium carbonate stalactites, columns, ribbons, and so forth. It had some of the best formations I’ve seen anywhere. I volunteered and was able to be the last person in line, so I was able to turn around a lot and look at the empty cave behind me, which is a special treat.

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