Sequoia National Park
【Summary】These ancient trees date back 3000 years. Their inner rings tell the story of human history in terms of climate variance through the past three millennia. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park was set up in 1890. The nearest major city is Visalia. The park encompasses more than 600 square miles and features the single highest point in the lower 48 continental state — Mount Whitney — which is more than 14,000 feet (over 4,000 meters) above sea level.
By Anthony C. LoBaido
These ancient trees date back 3000 years. Their inner rings tell the story of human history in terms of climate variance through the past three millennia. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park was set up in 1890. The nearest major city is Visalia. The park encompasses more than 600 square miles and features the single highest point in the lower 48 continental state — Mount Whitney — which is more than 14,000 feet (over 4,000 meters) above sea level.
The General Sherman Tree is perhaps the largest tree on Earth. (More on this below.) In fact, the Giant Forest, where the aforementioned tree grows, contains five of the 10 largest trees in the world. Imagine that! Visitors can enter the park near Ash Mountain. The flora and fauna are abundant. The last California Grizzly was killed here in 1922, and the California state flag features such a bear.
Just under 85 percent of the park (and adjacent Kings Canyon Park) is considered to be "wilderness." This has been assisted by the fact that Sequoias splinter without great difficulty. As such, unlike Redwoods, they are not ideal for timber harvesting and resultant commercialization and monetization.
There are alpine lakes waiting for your arrival. Camping, hiking and associated activities are an enjoyable way to pass the time. Winter will enable snowshoeing, skiing and sledding. Horseback riding is another popular activity. Rock climbers will love the challenge of the Grand Sentinel. Great care should be taken in the waters of the park. Drowning is the number one cause of death. The current in the river is very, very strong.
The most storied areas of the park include Crescent Meadow, called the "Gem of the Sierras" by John Muir. (John Muir Woods is another area worthy of investigation in the San Francisco Bay Area.) Moro Rock and the Crystal Cave are also must-sees. Mountains, canyons and of course, the world's largest trees, have served as a source of inspiration for millions of Americans and other visitors from around the world.
The USA Today, America's national newspaper, wrote:
"If you've only got a day, it's got to be about the sequoias, so hightail it to [the aforementioned] Giant Forest for your first hike through these botanical titans; here you will find the General Sherman Tree, considered to be the largest living tree on the planet (by volume); then head for Grant Grove, where you will find the General Grant Tree – the only living thing designated by Congress as a national shrine and the second-largest living tree on the planet (by volume). This massive monument defies belief, as do many of the trees in these two groves.
"If you've got a bit more time, by all means take it. Cedar Grove is calling to you from Kings Canyon, with its verdant vistas, crashing waterfalls, and miles upon miles of breathtaking hiking trails. This area, not unlike Yosemite Valley, is where you'll find South Fork Canyon, one of the deepest in the United States at 8,200 feet; the spectacular Mist Falls and Roaring River Falls; and the beautiful, gentle vistas of alpine Zumwalt Meadow."