It’s no secret: if you want to see a showcase of the most beautiful terrain that our country has to offer, you can’t do much better than pointing yourself toward a National Park. Often overlooked for the more well known Yosemite National Park, Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Park is the other reserve set up to showcase the beautiful Sierra Nevadas of California. You enter the park north of Bakersfield, as you drive through the town of Three Rivers which is strung along the North Fork of the Kaweah river.
Whether or not you’re heading into the park on the day of your arrival, you’ll probably be hungry when you arrive in Three Rivers, as it’s quite a trek from San Diego, and even Los Angeles. We’d recommend stopping off at Sierra Subs to get a first-class sandwich and get acquainted with the sound of the river – you’ll be listening to it for your entire stay anywhere in Three Rivers if you don’t shut your windows. Sierra Subs provides a bunch of outdoor seating along a deck that overlooks the river, with a backdrop of active family farms and the picturesque foothills of the sierras – which will be topped with smooth green wild grass if you picked the right time of year.
While there’s a few options for hotels in the area, we’d recommend looking into a cabin rental. We found ours on AirBnB, and it certainly helped to make our trip. We enjoyed a big deck with a 180 degree view of the beautiful river valley and foothills, and Morro Rock in the park off in the distance. Also on the property was a hike down to the East Fork of the river. There was a private swimming hole that was still a bit to cold to venture into, but relaxing on the boulders alongside it made for a very nice hour of relaxing.
Once you enter into the park, you’ll drive up many switchbacks to access the main attractions – the General Sherman Giant Sequoia and the Congress grove, Moro Rock, and Tokopah Falls. While the full complement of visitor centers, campsites and roads are only open during the summer months, Spring and Fall are great alternatives to beat some crowds. A dry April turned out to be a warm and beautiful time to visit for us – but be careful as some years we would have experienced feet of snow instead of 70 degree days. If you brave the snow in the winter, you can be rewarded by solitude in the Sequoia groves on a snowshoeing hike.
To sum it up, Sequoia National Park is the perfect showcase of the Southern Sierras. With it’s close proximity to Southern California, it makes a great weekend trip for hiking, camping, backpacking, or just a simple getaway into the mountains with some of the most beautiful sightseeing in the state.