The Trees! The stately giants, the stunning memories of what the earth was like long ago… I got all my love and wonder for the trees out in my last post, so for more practical purposes now – 24 hours in Sequoia National Park: A Photo Guide to one day among the giants.
Let’s start on the Generals Highway. This road is the beating heart of the park. As you wind your way over the lush mountains in California’s Sierra Nevada, you pass meadows, campground, the visitor’s center, and most notably, massive Sequoia trees.
At one point in the two-lane highway, the road splits to weave between these three giants.
Seeing the size of the RV on the right, and the width of the road, gives a sense to how truly big these trees are.
Our first stop on the highway is the Giant Forest Museum. Situated between the Big Trees Trail, and the General Sherman Tree, the museum is an ideal starting place to learn about Sequoias and how they’ve thrived here for millennia.
From here, let’s take a walk on the Big Trees Trail. Circling Round Meadow, you get up close and personal with a Sequoia environment. You can feel the texture of the thick woody bark, see the scars of wildfire burn, and the way the tree is growing over the wound.
The trees have an incredible presence. Standing among them is like nothing else… their age, and size, the way they stand proudly and silently as sentinels of this forest. No wonder many of them are named after Generals and Presidents. They command respect. They have their own authority. The forest around the giants is quiet, but alive.
Next, we’ll head for Crescent Meadow Road. The narrow road winds uphill among trees, more like a hike than a drive, and on a massive scale. Drive through the Tunnel Tree. Stop at the Parker Group and feel miniaturized next to these enormous trunks.
After the trees, we’ll take a break and climb Moro Rock for a stunning vista of the whole valley. It’s an exposed granite dome, sort of like Yosemite’s monoliths, but with a 300 foot climb by stairs to reach the top quickly.
See the valley stretching towards the coast. Look back and see the round full crowns of the Sequoias in the forest. Breathe it all in.
Now, it’s time for the pinnacle of the park, the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree in the world. The walk to Sherman is leisurely, with paved paths with signs and benches, and when you reach him the size does not seem real. Although he is not the world’s tallest, by volume, this giant holds the equivalent mass of 15 blue whales.
As the sun starts to set and the air begins to cool, it’s finally time to set up camp at the Lodgepole Campground. We’ll build a fire. Make some campfire coffee. Then we’ll stare into those mesmerizing flames and think about the natural wonders we’ve spent all day exploring.
One day isn’t enough to see all of Sequoia’s features… there are more groves of giant trees, Crystal Cave, Grant’s Grove, and all of King’s Canyon as well. But we’ve packed a lot in for one day. We’ve gotten a sense of what life is like in the giant forests today, and what it was like millions of years ago.