So.Much.Fun. – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We don’t usually camp on the busy three-day weekends (unless we head up to the mountains).  The crowds and traffic can be way too much.  But this year we decided to brave the crowds and take advantage of the long weekend.  Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is about five and a half hours away and we didn’t think going for anything less than three days was worth the time in the car – two little kids and all.

Boy are we glad we went.  Words can’t even describe the beauty of the park.  And there is so much to do! We feel like we didn’t even touch the surface of what you can do in the parks.  Especially Kings Canyon.  We spent barely anytime there and are already making plans to go back and explore.

Morro Rock Trail

We made reservations in advance (a must for most California parks) and stayed in the Lodgepole Pines Campground.  We got luck with our site (#58). It was close to the park shuttle, little market, and visitor center.  The market sells wood and ice!  Not cheap but super convenient.  The bathrooms were so-so.  They were few and far between at the campground and we had to walk a little ways to get there.  They were clean though – so that was a plus.

The park offers a shuttle that can take you to different points in the park.  Such an awesome amenity.  It takes away the hassle of parking and the shuttle makes frequent stops.  Plus, it’s better for the park.  Less cars and pollution and all.

Our first day in the park, we checked out General Sherman’s Tree – a massive Giant Sequoia.  In fact, it is the largest tree by volume in the world.  The trail was paved and really easy to walk for the kids.  We also visited the Lodgepole Museum and Beetle Rock.  The kids enjoyed climbing all over this massive rock.  The Girl and Mister took advantage of one of the Ranger Programs at the amphitheater that evening.  They learned all kinds of great things and were thoroughly entertained.

Sherman Tree Trail

Beetle Rock

Sunday, we got up early and hiked the 400 steps up Morro Rock.  Such a fun hike and the views were amazing.  We made it just before the fog moved in.  Words and pictures don’t do the hike justice.  It was simply breathtaking.  We also took a short hike around Crescent Meadow and saw two black bears grazing.  I think The Mister and I were more excited than the kids.  We made it out to Tharp’s Log – a small cabin made out of a fallen Giant Sequoia.  It was pretty cool.

Morro Rock

View From Morro Rock

Tharps Cabin Trail

Brown Bear

Something we love to do with the kids is the Jr. Ranger programs. The kids went to a ranger talk Sunday afternoon.  It was all about scat and they found that very exciting.

Jr Ranger Program

We were really unsure of the weather on this trip.  We had planned for cool temps and possible rain.  We only had a few sprinkles, but we did live in our long underwear (read our review on the kids’ long underwear).  So glad we brought them.  Meals were pretty simple.  We find it is easier to have simpler meals when you are cooking in the rain.  So tacos and chili it was. You can find our chili recipe here.

On our way out of the park on Sunday, we spent some time on the Kings Canyon side of the park.  We didn’t have time to drive all the way into the canyon.  We made a few stops to look at the Giant Sequoias, but it wasn’t enough time to really explore.  It just made us realize how massive both parks are and how little we saw of them.  We are looking forward to a return trip.  Maybe this fall?

Massive Tree

So where do you go when you have a long weekend?  To you try to avoid the busier parks or is to you take advantage of the extra day?

Chasing Waterfalls – Yosemite in the Spring

Last fall we lucked out and snagged a last minute camping reservation at Crane’s Flat.  We had a great time in Yosemite but really missed the waterfalls.  Yosemite Falls rarely flows in the fall, and we really wanted the kids to see it after winter.  We were on top of it this year, and we booked reservations early.  We stayed in Lower Pines Campground.  When you have a chance to stay in the Valley, you realize how super convenient it is.  You don’t have to drive anywhere.  There are shuttles that will take you all over the Valley floor or you can walk/ride bikes.  The weather was still pretty cool and we had rain on Sunday.  Overall though, we couldn’t have asked for nicer spring weather.

Westy

Half Dome

On Saturday, we jumped on the shuttle and went to the Visitor’s Center for a Jr. Ranger talk.  Our kids love these and we take advantage of them whenever possible.  Afterwards, we were wandering around and stumbled right into the most awesome ranger program we have ever experienced.  It was run by a descendent of the Miwok Indians.  He showed us all ton of edible plants and let the kids hold different toys the Miwok children would play with.  The best part though – he taught us how to throw darts.  We had such a blast.

Dart

Darts

The Girl Throwing Darts

The Boy Throwing Darts

Later that day we hiked to Mirror Lake.  The Boy complained the whole time and The Missus had to keep feeding him Jelly Belly’\s to get him to walk.  He was driving us crazy.  The lake was gorgeous but we dreaded the hike out.  Complaining kid and all.  It turns out his hiking boots were too small.  Poor guy’s feet hurt.  The Missus felt horrible!

Mirror Lake Trail

Jelly Belly Bribes

Mirro rLake

 Mirror Lake Duck

We saved all the waterfalls for Sunday morning.  The shuttle dropped us off right at Yosemite Falls and we made the short walk in to the base.  No big hiking – not with The Boy and his sore feet.  The falls were gorgeous.  Even with the drought, they were still amazing.  The Mister wasn’t feeling so great on Sunday.  He felt like he was coming down with a bug, so we packed up camp early and headed home.

Yosemite Falls

For our next trip to Yosemite, The Missus wants to carve out time to hike to the three groves of Giant Sequoias.  We think they will be pretty amazing.  Especially because they are off the beaten path.  Have you made it to all the Giant Sequoia Groves?  This is becoming one of The Missus’s must dos.