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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?