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?

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The Perfect Ending…

…to a perfect summer. Labor Day weekend marked the unofficial end to our summer. School starts for The Girl and the smell of fall should happen any day now. (I keep telling myself that even in 100 degree heat).

We took off for The Mountains. A good place to go on the busier weekends. We don’t need reservations and we have our guaranteed spot.

Giant Sequoia

We spent Saturday with friends. We met at Big Trees State Park to hike with the kids. Our friends aren’t big on camping. Meeting for a hike was such a wonderful compromise. The kids loved the big trees. They even found a few to climb through.

In A Log

We visited the White Pines Lake Logging Jamboree later that day. This is one of our favorite Labor Day weekend activities. The kids love the chainsaws and the proceeds support a small local logging museum. The kids ate watermelon and we enjoyed some time with The Mister’s dad who met us there.  Smokey Bear even came by to visit with the kids.

Chainsaws

Papa

Smokey Pin

Fun things were happening at the campground on Sunday. A gunny sack race, carnival with a bounce house, and lots of play time. The kids had a blast.

Castle

We try really hard to limit television time at our house. We do allow for a movie night once a week, but lately we have been having too much fun in The Westy for any movies. The Girl was dying to watch Frozen, so we made an exception and let the kids have a movie night. They loved it and so did we. A few rare minutes to sit down and read.

Movie Night

Al in all – what a great way to end an epic summer.