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Pack stations provide horseback rides in national parks

June 8th, 2013 No comments

www.visaliatimesdelta.com
Juan Villa

 

They were only about 10 years old at the time, but already doing what they describe as men’s work.

 

That may have been a few decades ago, but Tim Loverin and Craig London are still working as hard as ever keeping their pack stations open in the local national parks and forests.

 

Both offer guided horseback rides for visitors ranging from an hour ride to multi-day pack trips into the Sierras.

 

Loverin, born in the Three Rivers/Woodlake area, owns the Cedar Grove Pack Station in Kings Canyon National Park and London owns the Rock Creek Pack Station in Inyo National Forest.

 

“They’re like sightseeing tours done on a walk, very gentle and very beautiful,” Loverin said. “It’s a great experience. You combine the fun and excitement of riding a horse with being in beautiful and spectacular scenery.”

 

The Cedar Grove Pack Station is about two hours from Visalia, located just outside the Cedar Grove Village in the national park. It’s been open for about two weeks this season and should remain open until October, possibly a little longer depending on the weather.

 

While they mainly do pack trips into the Sierras, those interested in one-hour, two-hour or half-day rides are always welcome. The rides go at about a three-mile-an-hour pace.

 

“We do it either way. We can do a fully outfitted trip where we send a cook and all the camping equipment and the only things the customer brings are their personal items, sleeping bags and sleeping pads,” Loverin said. “Those have to be arranged ahead of time, you can’t just drop in for those.”

 

Visitors should bring sturdy shoes and pants are recommended. There aren’t any set rules on with children’s ages, Loverin said they have to see them to decide if they can ride.

 

Loverin was 8 years old when he started going on pack trips with his grandfather, who once owned a pack station in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park. The family’s history with the national parks dates back further to 1900, when Loverin’s great-grandfather Ernest Britten was the first civilian ranger hired in the national park.

 

Experience like his isn’t required to go on rides, but visitors should be physically able to ride.

 

Loverin’s horses, quarter horse types, stayed busy during Memorial Day weekend, but said things have slowed down since.

 

“This is typical for the year. It starts getting busy when the schools get out for the year and summer vacation starts,” he said. “In the early part of the year we tend to get a lot of European visitors. The European people really seem to like to ride horses.”

 

For Craig London’s Rock Creek Pack Station in the Inyo National Forest, visitors have to enter through Yosemite National Park. London suggests coming to the area to camp for the night before heading to the pack station.

 

London said the best trip they offer for day rides is their Day in the Sierra for $85; it’s about a 10-mile ride in six hours.

 

“It’s the nicest ride offered because more campers have breakfast and don’t have to push to get here early. It’s a relaxed trip,” London said. “It’s ideal, your muscles are relaxed. My suggestion is it’s a nice thing even if you’re inexperienced. It’s not just up the trail and down the trail; you get a real appreciation of the wilderness. There’s real solitude in the wilderness.”

 

The pack station has been in commercial operation since 1919 and was purchased by his father in 1947.

 

Whether it’s a day ride, four-to-12-day trail rides, hiking with pack stock or another of the many options offered, reservations should be made ahead of time.

 

The pack station is currently only offering four-day mustang trips to observe wild mustangs, but should offer day rides starting June 21.

 

“This trip really tunes me up for the season. I love that high desert chaparral with the cold clear sky at night,” said Debby Main, who recently went to observe wild mustang with the Rock Creek Pack Station. “It’s an excellent first trip for someone who has never packed. All you need is your sleeping bag and personal gear.”

 

Like the Cedar Grove Pack Station, London also offers hiking with pack stock for those hikers wanting to enjoy the wilderness longer than they can carry the needed supplies.

 

“This is a unique establishment. It’s the same riding instructions for everyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s two hours or two weeks,” London said. “We want to help those that want to enjoy the wilderness, but need some guidance.”

 

All pack stations located in Sequoia National Park have closed the last few years, but the stables in Kings Canyon do still operate there.

 

“It’s a real hard business to stay alive in,” said Loverin, whose daughter owns the Grant Grove Stables.

 

The stable is located in Kings Canyon National Park and depending on the weather, could open in about a week. It typically shuts down in mid-September.

 

One of the main differences between the father and daughter stables is the elevation. Grant Grove is at about 7,000 feet, while Cedar Grove is at about 4,600 feet.

 

“We’re along the Kings River and Grant Grove is more among the big trees,” Loverin said. “All they do is the shorter rides.”

Local national parks partnership announced

January 9th, 2013 No comments

CBS47.TV

There is a new way for tourists to enjoy our local mountains called the “Majestic Mountain Loop.”

 

It’s a 3-day plan for people to explore Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

 

You’ll start hearing a lot more about it from local visitors bureaus. the Fresno airport and the National Park Service.

 

Rhonda Jorn with Fresno Yosemite International airport said, “We’re working on somewhat of a passport program, where if you come in and you finish three parks in three days, you get a big swag bag, and a shirt “I rocked the loop” and all this kind of stuff. It basically says, ‘You came, you concurred, you saw all the awesome things you could possibly be seeing in the parks.”

 

Also according to the Fresno Bee, there’s a plan to build a foot-bridge underneath Yosemite Falls that would be part of a $200 million renovation plan over the next 15 years.

 

The outdoor ice rink at Curry Village will also apparently be taken out or replaced.

 

A large chunk of the cash will go toward a plan to limit the number of daily visitors to Yosemite Valley, that sees about 4 million visitors every year.

Get into national parks free for Veterans Day

November 9th, 2011 No comments

Get into national parks free for Veterans Day

 

Want to go to Yosemite, Joshua Tree or any other national park or monument for free? Well, you can this weekend.

Yosemite National Park

 

By MARLA JO FISHER
The Orange County Register.com

 

On Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11-13, 2011, all national parks and monuments are free to visit for everyone, not just veterans.

 

This is a great time of year to visit Joshua Tree National Park which is one of my personal favorite parks. Check out the Wonderland of Rocks, my favorite part of the park.

 

There are 392 national parks and monuments in this country, so there should be one you want to check out, don’t you think?

 

The fine print: *Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

 

Some parks in California that you can get into for free:

Cabrillo National Monument

Death Valley National Park

John Muir National Historic Site

Joshua Tree National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lava Beds National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Sequoia National Park

Whiskeytown Unit National Recreation Area

Yosemite National Park

 

More national park deals:

if you’re 62 or older, click here to find out how to get a lifetime pass for $10

If you’re permanently disabled, click here to learn how to get a free national lands pass

Want to see about reserving a campsite? You can do that here on Recreation.gov

 

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks page 2

June 30th, 2009 No comments
This is page 2 of a 2 page post.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon have a variety of visitor centers, nature centers, and information and wilderness permit stations. Not all are open year-round.

The parks are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting. Highest visitation is in July & August. It can be difficult to find a campsite at popular campgrounds on summer Saturdays. Because of the extreme elevation range in the parks, conditions vary greatly from area to area and day to day.

The Foothills Visitor Center is open daily. They are located on the Generals Highway, 1 mile from Sequoia Park entrance at Highway 198. The Foothills visitor center focuses on the Sierran foothills which is the most biologically diverse area of the parks. The Crystal Cave tour tickets are sold here until 3:45pm during the summer only; tickets are not sold at the cave. Books, maps, and educational materials are also for sale here. Local wilderness permits are also available at this visitor center. Accessible restrooms, pay phones and first aid is also available for your convenience. Please call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-3135

The Giant Forest Museum is open daily. The museum location is housed in the historic market building, in the Giant Forest sequoia grove. It is 16 miles from Sequoia Park’s entrance at Highway 198. This museum offers an in-depth look at the incredible giant sequoias of Giant Forest, and what we have learned about how to protect them. There gift shop sells books, maps, & educational items. There are fully-accessible restrooms, trails, pay phones and first aid. During the summer the museum is a stop for the new park shuttle. Please call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-4480

Beetle Rock Family Nature Center in Giant Forest is open during the summer. They are located across from the Giant Forest Museum. There is fun for all ages. Call for hours of operation and programs: 1-559-565-4480

The Lodgepole Visitor Center is open early spring through late fall. They may be open on the weekends in winter. During the summer the visitor center is a stop for the new park shuttle. They are located on Lodgepole Road off the Generals Highway. Here you can explore the natural and human history of the southern Sierra Nevada. Crystal Cave tour tickets are sold here until 3:30pm. Local wilderness permits are issued here as well. Bear canisters are also for sale or rent. Accessible restrooms, pay phones and first aid are also available. Please call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-4436

The Mineral King Ranger Station is open late during the month of May and early in September. They are located on Generals Highway, but on the Mineral King Road, 24 miles up this narrow, winding road from Highway 198 in Three Rivers (no RVs, buses, or trailers, please). The road closes from October 31 to late May. When the station is not open, wilderness permits are available on the porch. This small station houses some exhibits on Mineral King’s human and natural history. Books, maps, and educational items and bear canisters are sold here. Pay phones are located in the nearby campgrounds. Please call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-3768

Spring is a moveable feast here, beginning in late January or early February in the lower Foothills and lasting until July in the High Sierra. The road to Cedar Grove usually opens in mid-April and the Mineral King Road by Memorial Day—weather permitting. For information call 1-559-565-3341.

Summer generally runs from late June to early September. Activities and temperatures peak in this season. All park areas, roads, and facilities are usually open (subject to current conditions). Ranger-led nature programs and Crystal Cave tours are offered daily.

Fall commonly lasts from mid-September through November. Autumn is a great time to visit the parks. The weather may bring sudden storms and deliver snow as low as the sequoia groves. A few facilities start to close but many remain open.

Winter lasts from November until mid-April. This is a great time to explore lower elevations in the parks and the sequoia groves are covered in snow. A few campgrounds are open. The roads to Cedar Grove and Mineral King are closed. The General’s Highway is open but subject to brief closures after winter storms for plowing. For information call 1-559-565-3341. Keep tire chains, a sleeping bag, water and emergency food with you in your car.

Kings Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove is open daily. Call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-4307. They are located in Grant Grove Village, three miles east from the Big Stump park entrance on Highway 180. There are new exhibits that focus on the Kings Canyon, the High Sierra and the giant sequoia (English/Spanish text). There is also a new 15-minute movie on Kings Canyon National Park (English and Spanish subtitles available). They also sell books, maps, & educational materials for sale. Local wilderness permits are issued here. There are also accessible restrooms, pay phone and first aid.

Cedar Grove Visitor Center is open late June through early September.
Please call for hours of operation: 1-559-565-3793. They are located in Cedar Grove Village next to Sentinel Campground, on the floor of the Kings Canyon. Please note; (The road into the canyon closes mid-November to mid-April)

Spring is a moveable feast here, beginning in late January or early February in the lower Foothills and lasting until July in the High Sierra. The road to Cedar Grove usually opens in mid-April and the Mineral King Road by Memorial Day—weather permitting. For information call 1-559-565-3341.

Summer generally runs from late June to early September. Activities and temperatures peak in this season. All park areas, roads, and facilities are usually open (subject to current conditions). Ranger-led nature programs and Crystal Cave tours are offered daily.

Fall commonly lasts from mid-September through November. Autumn is a great time to visit the parks. The weather may bring sudden storms and deliver snow as low as the sequoia groves. A few facilities start to close but many remain open.

Winter lasts from November until mid-April. This is a great time to explore lower elevations in the parks and the sequoia groves are covered in snow. A few campgrounds are open. The roads to Cedar Grove and Mineral King are closed. The General’s Highway is open but subject to brief closures after winter storms for plowing. For information call 1-559-565-3341. Keep tire chains, a sleeping bag, water and emergency food with you in your car.

Sequoia is the second-oldest national park in the United States. It was established in1890 to protect the Big Trees in Giant Forest, including the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest living thing. Sequoia also contains the Mineral King Valley and Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the U.S. outside of Alaska. In volume of total wood, the giant sequoia stands alone as the largest living thing on Earth. Its nearly conical trunk, like a club, not a walking stick, shows why. At least one tree species lives longer, one has a greater diameter, three grow tall, but none is larger. The General Sherman tree is between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. Its largest branch is almost seven feet in diameter. Each year the General Sherman adds enough wood growth to make a 60-foot-tall tree of usual proportions. The oldest known sequoia lived more than 3200 years. Since they continue to grow each year, they achieve impressive sizes.

The General Grant Tree is a living memorial to the men and women of the United States who have given their lives in service to their country. It was proclaimed a National Shrine on March 29, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The official dedication was made that year on Veterans Day, November 11, by the president’s personal representative, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Each year during the Christmas ceremony, park rangers place a large wreath at the base of the Grant Tree, remembering those who gave their lives.

Awe-inspiring giant sequoia trees are among the largest living things on earth, but the opportunity to experience them is rare. Approximately 75 groves exist, and only along the southern Sierra’s western slope on moist sites between about 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Giant Forest, one of the largest groves, was saved from logging by the establishment of Sequoia National Park in 1890. However, national park status did not fully protect the big trees. The road that brought visitors to Giant Forest also brought camping, cabins, commercial development, and congestion. The impacts of this development, both to the giant sequoia ecosystem and to the quality of visitor experience, conflicted with the National Park Service. They mandated to conserve park resources and values and leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

After a century of human use and development, the forest ecosystem in Giant Forest had changed in several ways. Paved roads, trails, and parking lots changed drainage patterns, allowing water to concentrate and create erosion gullies. Vehicle and foot travel compressed the soil and quickly broke down needles and twigs on the soil surface, depleting the topsoil of organic matter. Groups of mature trees were cleared for buildings and parking lots. Fire, on which giant sequoias depend for regeneration, could not be used in Giant Forest Village. There were very few grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, or tree seedlings in the Village because of lack of fire and human trampling.

Humans have traveled or lived in the Southern Sierra for at least 7,000 years. In the higher mountains, and also down into the western foothills, lived hunters and gatherers remembered today as the Monache or Western Mono. West of the Monache in the lowest foothills and also across the expanses of the Great Central Valley was a second group, the Yokuts.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Spanish began exploring the edge of the Sierras. Soon afterwards, trappers, sheepherders, miners, and loggers poured into the Sierras seeking to exploit whatever the mountains had to offer. By the end of the 19th century, San Joaquin Valley communities increasingly looked to the Sierras for water and recreation. In the struggle between all these competing interests, two national parks were born that became what we know today as Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Today the parks together protect 265 Native American archeological sites and 69 historic sites.

In native times, the region now included in Sequoia National Park was given over to two distinctive Indian groups, the Western Mono and the Tubatulabal. The Balwisha division of the Shoshonean-speaking Western Mono inhabited the upper Kaweah River drainage, including the part which lies in the western portion of the park. The Western Mono occurred also to the north of the park, occupying the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains between their summit and western foothills. The eastern portion of Sequoia park, that is, the Kern River drainage, falls in the territory of the Shoshonean-speaking Tubatulabal or Pitanisha, who are, like the Western Mono, mountain people, who occupied the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains west of their summit.

East of the water-shed of the Sierra is a third Shoshonean-speaking group, the Owens Valley Paiute (formerly called the Eastern Mono.). Their territory adjoins that of the Western Mono and Tubatulabal at the summit of the Sierra, that is, at the eastern boundary of Sequoia Park, but also includes a large portion of eastern California to the north. South and east of the Western Mono were the Yokuts, a large group of people distributed mainly in the flat San Joaquin Valley but locally running up slightly into the Sierra foothills, and speaking a language which bears no relation to Shoshonean, but which belongs to the great west coast stock, the Penutian.

Sequoia National Park, then, were permanently occupied in its western half by the Balwisha group of the Western Mono, while its eastern half was summer hunting territory of the Tubatulabal. Individuals from the Owens Valley Paiute to the east and the Yokuts to the west undoubtedly visited the country from time to time. Also, many specimens of Owens Valley or San Joaquin Valley origin were traded through this region by the several Indian trails that crossed the Sierra in this latitude. But a collection of Yokuts specimens cannot be said to characterize the industry of these mountain people any more than would a collection of Paiute specimens.

Before 1916, a company of mounted cavalry troops were dispatched each summer from San Francisco’s Presidio to patrol what is now Sequoia and Kings Canyon. In those early years, the summer of 1903 stands out as a monument to energy and commitment. This was the year that Captain Charles Young and soldiers of the all-black troops I and M of the 9th Cavalry came to the Sierra. Young and his troopers completed the first road to the Giant Forest, making the grove easily accessible for the first time. On the day the road opened, modern tourism began in Sequoia National Park.

When the new military superintendent for the summer of 1903 arrived in Sequoia National Park he had already faced many challenges. Born in Kentucky during the Civil War, Charles Young had early set himself a course that took him to places where a black man was not often welcome. He was the first black to graduate from the white high school in Ripley, Ohio, and through competitive examination he won an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point in 1884. He went on to graduate with his commission, only the third black man to do so.

In May, 1903, Sequoia National Park was already thirteen years old but still under-developed and hard to visit. Since 1891, the management and development of the park had been the responsibility of the US Army, but owing to a lack of Congressional funding almost nothing had been done. The biggest lack in the park was an adequate wagon road to the Giant Forest, the home of the world’s largest trees. Army work on a road had begun in the summer of 1900, but progress had lagged. In three summers barely five miles of road had been constructed.

Army administration of the early national parks usually took the form of a military officer sent to the park for the summer and authorized by the Department of the Interior to function as “Acting Superintendent”. These assignments usually changed each year, part of the reason Army accomplishments in the parks were so limited. In its first dozen years, Sequoia National Park never had a military superintendent who worked in the park more than two consecutive seasons.

Young and his troopers arrived in Sequoia after a 16-day ride to find that their major assignment would be the extension of the wagon road. Hoping to break the sluggish pattern of previous military administrations, Young poured his considerable energies into the project, and dirt and rock began to fly. By mid-August wagons were entering the mountain-top forest for the first time. Still not content, Young kept his crews working and soon extended the road to the base of the famous Moro Rock. During the summer of 1903, Young and his troops built as much road as the combined results of the three previous summers. Young only served in Sequoia National Park for one summer.

Although Colonel Charles Young only served one season as Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park, he has not been forgotten. The energy and dignity he brought to his national park assignment left a strong imprint. His roads, much improved in later times, are still in use today, having served millions of park visitors for more than eighty years.

In 1888 Walter Fry came to know the Sequoias as a logger, having left hardship in the Midwest for a new life in the Sierra. After spending five days with a team of five men sawing a single sequoia, he counted the growth rings on the fallen giant. The answer shocked him into changing careers, in just a few days they had ended 3266 years of growth. Two years later a petition was circulating, calling for a new national park to protect the sequoias. The third signature was Walter Fry’s.

Fry moved his family from the San Joaquin Valley to Three Rivers after the park was created in 1890, making it easier to pursue his interest in this beautiful area. Although the military ran the park then, in 1901 civilian Fry was hired as road foreman. In 1905 he became a park ranger.

By 1910 Fry was Chief Ranger, managing the parks for the military superintendents that were appointed to supervise each summer. When the Army gave up caretaking the parks in 1914, the choice for civilian superintendent was a clear one. Fry went on to lead the parks through challenging times—a world war and the creation of the National Park Service.

When Col. White became superintendent in 1920, Fry shifted jobs again, becoming U.S. Commissioner, or federal judge, in the parks. White recognized his worth immediately: It would be almost impossible to overstate the affection and esteem in which Judge Fry is held by both Park employees and visitors. He has been able to enforce park regulations with such sympathetic insight into the needs of visitors and residents that the enforcement has won friends for the Park Service.

It was in 1922 that Fry got involved with what may have been his most enduring contribution, the first Nature Guide Service for the public. Again, the obvious leader for the program was the man who had spent countless hours outdoors, observing the intricacies of life here. Now he influenced the park by influencing visitors, passing on his deep appreciation of the place.

Until he retired in 1930 at age 71, Fry offered walks, wrote nature bulletins and organized visitor centers; the thousands of visitors he touched in turn became ambassadors for the landscape he loved so much.

It is for this reason that the nature center at Lodgepole Campground was rededicated as the “Walter Fry Nature Center” in the summer of 1994. To this building children come by the thousands each summer for hands-on involvement with the stuff of these parks: monster trees, awesome geology and fascinating wildlife. Each child takes home a sense of the Sierra, and in so doing, carries on a bit of Judge Walter Fry’s distinctive legacy.

Norman Clyde was attracted to the Sierra Nevada Mountains sometime after 1911 while in his mid-20s. Clyde spent more than 50 years perfecting his mental maps, locating crashed airplanes, and rescuing lost souls and climbers in trouble—or retrieving their bodies.

Clyde’s name was legendary. Many climbers would rank him second only to John Muir as an intimate pioneer of places inaccessible and second to none as a climber. Apart from legend, few people knew much about this quiet man who minimized his achievements. Asked about his climbing feats, Clyde might downplay them by saying they weren’t really so many when you considered that he was 350 years old.

Recollecting Clyde’s feats, Wheelock wrote in 1961: “A strong team of skilled rock climbers will conquer a lonely spire, using the most modern of climbing gear and techniques and win through with well-coordinated teamwork only to find on a faded Kodak box the record of a solo climb of three decades ago. Or, at the high point of a distant ridge will be found a small cairn, but no written record. Obviously the work of man and one mountaineer will turn to his companion with, ‘Well, it looks like a first ascent, except for Norman Clyde.’ Later, discussing the route with him, Clyde will ponder a bit, ask a couple of questions about some difficult pitch encountered on the ascent, and then admit he had been there a score of years ago.”

Other than his carefully crafted newspaper and magazine accounts of climbs and the few recorded recollections of fellow mountaineers, Norman Clyde’s long High Sierra tenure passed with sparse biographical record. Not so Clyde’s backpacks. Heading for the mountain backcountry one day, Clyde, weighing 140 pounds then, weighed his pack: 75 pounds. He spent that night with a survey crew who were amazed at the size of his pack. In the morning, the crewmen as a prank badgered Clyde about the dangers of running out of food in the wilderness. The survey crewman urged extra cans of their food on Clyde. Never one to turn down free supplies, Clyde set out that day with a pack that had grown to 95 pounds. Many people might find his way of travel in the mountains quite strange, especially with today’s gear. But it was not just visiting the mountains or passing through the peaks. He lived there.

In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the dynamic landscape evolves from geologic processes working over millennia to sculpt granite, marble and other forms of rock. Here in the parks are canyons carved by rivers and glaciers, towering rugged peaks and miles of underground caverns. Found throughout the park are thousands of lakes and ponds and miles of rivers and streams; together they form important watersheds in the park. These watersheds are a valuable source of water not only to park resources but also to the inhabitants of California’s Central Valley.

The park contains a considerable portion of America’s longest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. Included in the parks’ mountainous landscape is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney, which rises to 14,491 feet above sea level. Eleven additional peaks taller than 14,000 feet are also found along the parks’ eastern boundaries at the crest of the Sierra Nevada. In Kings Canyon National Park, prominent ridges extend westward from the crest creating the Goddard and Monarch divides with mountains taller than 13,000 feet. In Sequoia National Park, a second prominent ridge of mountains, The Great Western Divide parallels the Sierras crest. It is the mountains of the Great Western Divide that greet visitors in Mineral King and that can be seen from Moro Rock and the Giant Forest area. Peaks in the Great Western Divide climb to more than 12,000 feet.

Between these mighty mountains lie deep, spectacular canyons. Most significant is Kings Canyon. In the parks, Kings Canyon is a wide glacial valley featuring spectacular tall cliffs, a lovely meandering river, green vibrant meadows and beautiful waterfalls. Within a few miles outside the parks, Kings Canyon deepness and steepness becoming arguably the deepest canyon in North America for short distance. The confluence of the South Fork and Middle forks of the Kings River lies at 2,260 feet, while towering above the rivers on the north side of the canyon is Spanish Peak, which is 10,051 feet tall. The south side of this canyon above the confluence is significantly lower. Dozens of other canyons also await visitors to the two parks. This includes scenic Tokopah Valley above Lodgepole, Deep Canyon on the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River and deep in the parks’ remote backcountry, Kern Canyon, which is more than 5,000 feet deep for 30 miles. The parks are headwaters for the Kaweah River, the Kern River, two forks of the Kings River and small areas of the San Joaquin and Tule river watersheds.

Most of the mountains and canyons in the Sierra Nevada are formed in granite rocks. These rocks, such as granite, diorite and monzonite, formed when molten rock cooled far beneath the surface of the earth. The molten rock was a by-product of a geologic process known as sub-duction. Powerful forces in the earth forced the landmass under the waters of the Pacific Ocean beneath and below an advancing North American Continent. Super-hot water driven from the subjecting ocean floor migrated upward and melted rock as it went. This process took place during the Cretaceous Period. Granite rocks have speckled salt and pepper appearance because they contain various minerals including quartz, feldspars and micas. Valhalla or the Angel Wings are prominent cliffs that rise above the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River.

While geologists debate the details, it is clear that the Sierra Nevada is a young mountain range, probably not more than 10 million years old. Incredible forces in the earth, probably associated with the development of the Great Basin, forced the mountains to grow and climb toward the sky. During the 10 million years at least four periods of glacial advance have coated the mountains in a thick mantle of ice. Glaciers form and develop during long periods of cool and wet weather. Today, a few small glaciers remain in the parks. They are the southern-most glaciers in North America. Glaciers move through the mountains like slow-motion Rivers carving deep valleys and craggy peaks. The extensive history of glaciations within the range and the erosion resistant nature of the granite rocks that make up most of the Sierra Nevada have together created a spectacular landscape of hanging valleys, towering waterfalls, craggy peaks, alpine lakes and gigantic glacial canyons.

The Sierra Nevada is still growing today. In fits and leaps the mountains gain height during earthquakes on the east side of the range near Bishop and Lone Pine. Rain and winter snows combined with the steep character of the landscape create an environment that includes massive movements of sediment and rapid erosion. The mountains are being removed by erosion almost as quickly as they grow. This erosion has created and deposited sediments thousands of feet thick on the floor of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys.

Small sections of the park contain areas of metamorphic rocks. These rocks are the remnants of volcanic islands that were added to North America before the Sierra Nevada uplift. They include metamorphosed volcanic rocks, schist, quartzite, phyllite, and marble.

Surprisingly, the marble rocks in the parks contain caves. Marble is metamorphosed limestone and Sequoia and Kings Canyon together contain more than 200 marble caves. Caves form only under special conditions including the right kind of rock, fractures or spaces in the rock and enough water to erode underground rooms and passages. The caves of the two parks include the longest cave in California, Lilburn Cave, with nearly 17 miles of surveyed passage. Lilburn is a very complex maze cave with beautiful blue- and white-banded marble. Nearby mines attest to the unusual geology in the Lilburn area and the cave has a display of rare and colorful minerals including green malachite and blue azurite. Beautiful Crystal Cave features a trail and lights for park visitors. This commercialized cave has seen millions of visitors since it first opened to the public in 1941. It has beautifully banded marble; many cave formations, large rooms, and the creative Spider Web Gate. Soldier’s Cave has been a favorite with California cave explorers since its discovery in 1949. Three rope drops must be negotiated to reach the cave’s lowest and most extensive level. Several outstanding formation areas exist, one of which has high quality “dog-tooth spar” crystals. This cave has suffered due to inadvertent damage by cave explorers. People have accidentally broken cave formations and muddied extensive areas of white flowstone. Soldiers Cave was the site of a restoration and cleaning project between 1992 and 1997.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks could have been set aside solely to protect the amazing caves found in this area of the Southern Sierra Nevada. The two parks protect half of the caves more than a mile long in California, the longest cave in the state, numerous karsts streams and some of the best alpine karsts topography in the United States. The caves contain Pleistocene era fossils, rare minerals and unique animals. They are the sites of numerous scientific research projects and provide recreational opportunities to thousands of park visitors each year.

Most caves are in the Western one-third of the Parks in narrow bands of marble paralleling the trend of the Sierra. They are found at elevations ranging from over 10,000 feet to under 1,500 feet and have internal temperatures ranging from just above freezing to over 60 degrees. Some of the caves have active stream systems, but many are the dry remnants of ancient, water-flow patterns.

In recent years detailed maps of many park caves have been created. Maps are a key requirement for proper management and research in caves because they document the caves, their features and their extent. Crystal Cave was mapped between 1995 and 1998. From the field work, a series of maps was produced that document the cave’s mineralogical features, its exploration history, passage elevations, crystal streams and lakes, management restrictions, the cave lighting system, and much more. Other maps of Hurricane Crawl and Soldiers caves have also been completed. Peter Bosted, chief cartographer for the Cave Research Foundation, has coordinated a project to produce more than 80 quadrangle maps of Lilburn Cave. These maps show this very complex cave in detail.

In general, caves in the two parks are managed by category. Some caves can be visited by anyone at any time. Other caves, with rare and sensitive animals or mineralogical features may be closed to entry. A few caves are set aside for research and study. Some others that are delicate or dangerous require the presence of an experienced trip leader known as a “Trustee” before access is allowed. Six park caves are gated, meaning that the entrances contain locked gates of metal bars that protect the cave from uninformed trespassers or which protect any trespassers from dangers in the cave. Most of the 200 caves are small and found in isolated sections of the parks, far from any roads.

Caves are just a small part of the geological phenomena known as karst. Named for a region of Slovenia, karst describes areas of the earth’s surface that have caves, springs, sinkholes, disappearing streams and other unusual landforms. These features develop when mildly acidic groundwater acts on soluble rock, such as limestone marble or gypsum, to erode away the stone.

Karst hydrology is the study of the movement and properties of groundwater flowing through karst areas. It is the actions of this water that makes caves, sinkholes and other karst features. Karst hydrology has become an important area of research in recent years because groundwater in this setting behaves very differently from groundwater in a normal geologic region. Usually groundwater moves through the earth very slowly through tiny pores, spaces and fractures in rock. These small spaces may act as filters that clean and purify groundwater. In a karst system, groundwater flows rapidly through open conduits and passages in the rock. Groundwater is not filtered or naturally purified in karst systems.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain some 3200 lakes and ponds and approximately 2600 miles of rivers and streams. Three major rivers originate in these parks –Kings, Kaweah and Kern. These rivers provide valuable irrigation water to the rich agricultural lands in Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties as well as providing water for recreation and industrial activities outside the parks. The monitoring and maintenance of watershed health is clearly of interest not only to park managers but also to water users throughout this region.

Winter snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is a natural storage system for the precipitation that accumulates during winter months. The amount of water stored as snow pack increases through mid-April at higher elevations. Melt off typically begins in April and continues through May or June. October is the month in which the least water runoff occurs from park watersheds. Snowfields, forests, lakes and streams collect, store, and release the water supplied from winter storms so it is available throughout the dry summers for agriculture, recreation, electrical power generation and other uses. The amount of snow pack is also important to park vegetation and wildlife. In years of low snow pack accumulation; there is less water available for plant growth. During these drought years, reduced plant growth and fruit and seed production result in altered food production for wildlife.

Extreme topographic differences and a striking elevation in the foothills along the Sierra crest create a rich tapestry of environments, from the hot, dry lowlands along the western boundary to the snow-covered alpine high country. This topographic diversity in turn supports over 1,200 species of vascular plants, which make up dozens of unique plant communities. These include not only the renowned groves of massive giant sequoia, but also vast tracts of montane forests, spectacular alpine habitats, and oak woodlands and chaparral. The richness of the Sierra flora represents the state as a whole of nearly 6,000 species of vascular plants known to occur in California, over 20 percent of them can be found within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Along the western edge of the parks, the vast grasslands of the Great Central Valley give way to blue oak savanna and a mosaic of chaparral types. Unlike most of the park vegetation, which is made up of plant species native to the region, the foothill grassland is composed primarily of non-native annual grasses which were introduced to California during the mid nineteenth century and have subsequently become naturalized. The slow-growing, gnarled blue oaks that cover this landscape can be hundreds of years old.

Dominated by dense thickets shrubs, chaparral communities are characteristic of lowland Mediterranean climates, where winter rains provide most of the precipitation and, but for the hot dry summers, temperatures are relatively mild. Many of these species exhibit specific adaptations to fire and drought, both of which have a strong influence on life in the foothill environment.

Unlike many of the coniferous forests of the world, which are dominated by a single species of tree, the mixed coniferous forests that cloak the lower and middle montane slopes of the Sierra Nevada support a remarkable diversity of tree species. Here ponderosa pine, incense cedar, white fir, sugar pine, and scattered groves of giant sequoia intermix and coexist. These trees, many of which reach tremendous heights, form some of the most extensive stands of old growth coniferous forest that remain in the world.

Red fir forests grow in pure stands in the mid to upper elevation forest range anywhere between 7,000 to 9,000 feet within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These stately trees typically form a dark forest with scant ground cover.

In the upper montane, the mixed coniferous forest is replaced by nearly pure stands of red fir and lodge pole pine. Characterized by deep snow accumulation during the winter months and a dense canopy that limits the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest floor, the red fir forests lack a diverse herbaceous component. Only the most shade tolerant herbs thrive beneath the towering trees. Lodge pole pines have an unusual distribution, growing in both moist lowlands and in drier sites on benches and ridges. In more damp sites, these forests can support a rich amalgam of herbs and wildflowers in their understory.

Above the upper-most edge of the montane forests, sub-alpine woodlands define the limit of tree life in the Sierra. In Sequoia National Park, these include the southernmost populations of foxtail pine, a close relative of the long-lived bristlecone pine which can be found in the White Mountains to the east. Downed pieces of foxtail wood can persist intact for thousands of years, preserved by the extremely cold and dry conditions that characterize the high elevations. To the north, stands of white bark pine provide a critical food source for the ubiquitous Clark’s nutcracker.

Foxtail pines grow in scattered stands on bare rocky slopes at high elevations. Exposed to extremes of temperature, unlimited sunlight, severe winds and storms, and long summer droughts, these trees have shapes sculpted by the elements.

Where soils are too saturated or shallow to support tree growth, numerous meadows can be found in the montane, sub-alpine and alpine zones. Wet meadows support a remarkably diverse assemblage of grasses, sedges and wildflowers, which provide essential habitat for many small mammals, birds, and insects. Dry-land meadows, too, are an important source of food and shelter for animals of the higher elevations.

In the rocky alpine, where the short growing season and harsh winter conditions exclude all but the hardiest of plants, stunted trees give way to low-growing, perennial herbs. Here plants often form ground-hugging mats or hummocks to take advantage of the warmer surface temperatures. In winter, the snow pack provides insulation from sub-freezing temperatures and desiccating winds. During the brief summer, when freezing temperatures and snowstorms remain a threat, surprisingly showy flowers burst forth in the race to set seed before winter returns.

There are many fun activities to take part in while visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Your choice of activities will vary greatly depending on the time of year and area you visit. There is picnicking, hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, strolling under the sequoias, and taking in the parks’ breathtaking views are just some of the popular visitor activities. There are also Ranger-led programs that are popular with kids of all ages. The programs and times vary with the seasons. Please check the NPS site for dates and times of the programs.

Come explore the underground beauty of Sequoia National Park. Walk by scenic waterfalls on the half-mile trail to Crystal Cave. Beautiful stalactites and curtains, impressively large rooms, and ornate marble polished naturally by a subterranean stream make a tour of Crystal Cave an unforgettable experience.

Anyone wishing to visit Crystal Cave must be part of a guided tour. Tour tickets are not sold at the cave entrance. They must be purchased in person at the Foothills or Lodgepole visitor centers in Sequoia National Park. After purchasing tickets allow at least 1½ hours to arrive at the cave.

Kayaking is popular on some rivers in the parks, but involves high risk and requires advanced skills. There are no beginner kayaking rivers in the parks. If you’re going to travel the rivers in these parks keep in mind it is extremely hazardous to canoeists and kayakers and river travel should only be attempted by the very experienced. All park rivers are open to floatation devices with the exception of the South Fork Kings River through the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park.

Rock climbing is another great activity in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The rock here is similar to Yosemite in quality. One can enjoy an endless variety of climbs from easy to extremely challenging; without the crowds and pressure of more famous climbing areas. Outstanding routes include the Obelisk, Grand Sentinel, and Chimney Rock. Most climbs require at least a day’s hike in. In Kings Canyon a good place to look for climbs is along Bubbs Creek. On the north side of the Bubbs Creek Trail, just before it crosses Charlotte Creek, are Charlito Dome and Charlotte Dome. The hike in is about 8 miles, but the multi-pitch possibilities are worth the haul.

In the Sequoia’s the easiest site to access is Moro Rock, just off the Generals Highway near Giant Forest. The west face offers 1,000 vertical feet of cracks and knobs. For a more remote climb, hike the High Sierra Trail to Angel Wings. At roughly 2,000 feet, this is one of the park’s biggest walls. It’s an 18-mile hike from Crescent Meadow. Other Sequoia highlights: Little Baldy and the quartzite Hospital Rock, both off the Generals Highway.

Want to come and do some hiking? There are year-round foothill trails that are accessible. The fall season brings cooler temperatures for hiking in this diverse environment. In winter and spring, the foothills are clothed in a glorious array of wildflowers. Late March through late May is especially colorful. As summer approaches the temperature rise, and so do the rivers. Avoid the dangerous rivers during this time.

If you have only a few hours, stop in Ash Mountain at the Foothills Visitor Center to learn about California’s fascinating and diverse oak chaparral ecology. Stop at Giant Forest Museum. From the main parking lot, walk down to the General Sherman Tree, the largest, single-trunked living tree on earth. Allow 20 minutes each way for the walk to the tree plus your time there. Or come by the Grant Grove Village at the newly-redesigned Kings Canyon Visitor Center and see the orientation film. See the General Grant Tree in Grant Grove (allow 20 minutes to walk the loop).

If you only have a day, visit The Ash Mountain at the Foothills Visitor Center and buy your ticket for a Crystal Cave Tour. Allow at least 3 1/2 hours for the cave tour.

If you prefer to stay outside go on a ranger walk. In Giant Forest, stand among the giant sequoias on the Big Trees Trail. Or in Lodgepole Village, walk up to Tokopah Falls. If you’re hankering for more, in Giant Forest look for wildlife big and small around Crescent Meadow and climb Moro Rock or hike out to Eagle View.

If you have a couple of days come see the General Sherman Tree and the Giant Forest Museum, stop at Hospital Rock to see the Native American pictographs and grinding stones. Have a picnic in Grant Grove Village at Big Stump. Hike into Redwood Canyon, home to the world’s largest grove of sequoias. Visit Converse Basin where a ghostly forest of sequoia stumps surrounds the massive Boole Tree. Stand in awe of gigantic Kings Canyon.

If you have a week or more spend a few days exploring one of the more remote parts of these spectacular parks. Come take a stunning mountain drive and visit Cedar Grove Village. From Grant Grove Village to the Kings Canyon, allow 1 1/2 hours each way plus however long you stay. Better yet, stop at one of the visitor centers for a wilderness trek into the splendid High Sierra.

With mild temperatures, calm rivers, and few bugs, fall is a delightful time for activities in the parks. But note that snow can occur down to mid-elevations as early as Halloween. Winter is a great time for snow play or to find plenty of solitude in the parks.

Among Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ rich diversity of plants and animals are other elements that are not as obvious but equally important. Air flow circles around the neighboring San Joaquin Valley and carries air pollution from human activity and industry into the parks. This affects visibility, the health of people and natural resources in the parks. Air quality monitoring in the parks is making a difference by providing important data to notify the public of health hazards on “bad air” days and to help both state and federal agencies in their efforts to improve air quality.

In the past the landscapes of these parks were regularly shaped by fire. The positive results benefited both plants and animals, such as encouraging the regeneration of plants, which in turn can benefit wildlife. After decades of fire suppression the landscape has severely changed, but efforts have been made to once again allow fire to return to its place as part of the natural cycle in the Sierra Nevada.

As the population of the state continues to increase and urban areas grow, so does the use of outdoor lighting. This has an environmental impact on dark skies. Once where dark skies provided the perfect backdrop to distant stars and planets, they now glow more from the lights of urban areas. By recording these changes and providing education, park staff can increase appreciation of the night skies and suggest ways that we all can take a more active role returning a natural glow to our night skies.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks periodically experience some of the worst air quality in the National Park Service. The Clean Air Act and the National Park Service Organic Act mandate that SEKI protect air-quality-related values and resources within the parks from adverse impacts of air pollution.

The SEKI Air Resources program has been involved in air quality monitoring for over 20 years, one of the longest running air programs in the National Park Service. An emphasis is placed on knowing the abundance of pollutants that are atmospherically transported into these parks, their health effects on employees and visitors, and their effects on the natural resources that we are charged to protect.

Ozone is made of three joined oxygen atoms, and it is found both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ozone can be helpful or harmful, depending on where it is found.

The Ozone may be the most damaging pollutant here. Compared to ozone-resistant individuals, ozone-sensitive pines have lower photosynthetic rates, lose their needles earlier, and have diminished annual ring growth. In contrast to pines, mature giant sequoias seem to be relatively resistant to present ozone levels. However, newly emerged sequoia seedlings are suspected to be more vulnerable to ozone injury.

Since the 1970s, ozone high in the atmosphere has been decreasing. This allows more UV solar radiation to reach the earth’s surface. The effects of increased UV radiation are not well understood. Several agencies and universities are studying links between UV radiation exposure and skin cancer and eye disorders in humans. UV radiation also has negative effects on plants and aquatic ecosystems.

UV radiation may also influence air quality in the parks. The smog obscuring park views is the result of chemical reactions that take place in the presence of sunlight. More UV radiation may speed up these chemical reactions and could increase the amount of smog and low-altitude ozone present.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are downwind of one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world, the San Joaquin Valley. Every year, tons of pesticides are applied to these crops, over 45,000 tons in 1994 alone. Pesticides that become volatilized are suspended in the atmosphere as particulates and drift into the Parks on prevailing winds. Consequently, organophosphates from fertilizer are found in precipitation as high as 6,300 ft. in Sequoia National Park. Other synthetic chemicals, are also finding their way into the parks such as PCBs. PCBs are found in a variety of industrial and consumer products such as cooling compounds, electronics, paints, varnishes, plastics, inks and pesticides. Some PCBs have negative effects on animals by imitating specific hormones in concentrations as small as parts per trillion. They can cause changes in wildlife reproductive capacity, longevity, intelligence, and behavior, or can lead to cancer or mutations. They are inconspicuous, but potentially dangerous.

While studies have not yet been conducted to establish cause-and-effect links between synthetic chemical drift into the parks and effects on park ecosystems, circumstantial evidence suggests that impacts to park wildlife may be occurring.

Another important area of work in park caves is restoration. While restoration in a national park seems surprising, past visitors and employees in the parks have made reversible mistakes that damaged and altered caves. In some cases, caves can restore themselves through natural processes that remove or cover dirt, graffiti, paint and soot. This process is happening right now in Clough and Crystal caves. Crystal Cave has also seen restoration projects that removed tons of blast rubble dumped into the cave during trail construction in the 1930s. Work in the cave has removed damaging lint and dirt from formerly pristine walls. In 1998 a workroom built into the cave was partially restored in the hope that this would provide more habitat for Pimoa spiders that live only near the cave’s four entrances.

Cave enthusiasts first explored Soldiers Cave in 1949 and 1950. Since then it has remained a popular cave with recreational cavers. Unfortunately the cave combines muddy areas with passages that have beautiful white walls and delicate formations. Through the 50 years that the cave has been open for caving trips, hundreds of square feet of the cave’s walls were muddied and damaged. In 1994 and 1995 water from a nearby surface stream was diverted for a few days through hoses that led into the cave’s damaged passages. This water was used to clean these surfaces and restore the cave to its original appearance and character.

Water determines the distribution and abundance of many plants and animals throughout the Sierra Nevada by shaping and providing habitat. Lakes and streams support rich communities of native organisms both in the water and in adjoining riparian areas. Water is also a powerful attractant to human visitors to these parks, as is evident from the popularity of rivers, streams and lakes as destinations for picnickers, hikers, campers and anglers. Introduced animals, human use of rivers and lakes, runoff and effluent from park developed areas and ecosystem-level, human-caused changes have had negative impacts on SEKI water resources. Park research, inventory and monitoring are critical in identifying changes in water quality and quantity and declines in native plant and animal populations that can result from human-caused impacts to aquatic systems.

Because of the rapid flow and lack of filtering in karst water systems, these areas are very susceptible to pollution. Millions of people and many unique species of animals depend on clean water in karst areas for drinking and for aquatic homes. In the Eastern United States where karst has developed across thousands of square miles, ground water pollution is a big concern. Accidents, such as trains or trucks spilling toxic chemicals, may result in ground water pollution across a large area, ruining wells and destroying wildlife habitat. In the Sierra Nevada karst areas are limited in their extent. But maintaining good water quality in these areas is still very important. Karst waters in Sequoia and Kings Canyon support unique animals and are a part of watersheds that supply thousands of people with water for drinking and irrigation.

There is a growing concern over the effects of air pollution and air toxins on human health. While research continues to better understand these links, there is already solid evidence of health concerns with higher levels of ozone and particulate matter.

Visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are made aware of daily quality by the air advisory program. Predicted levels of ozone are translated into an air quality index which alerts the public to unhealthy air quality. This information is widely distributed to employees and is posted at the three largest visitor centers in the parks.

The National Park Service is moving to define and resolve a set of problems involved in protecting and restoring an overlooked and often abused resource: the soundscape. One aspect of the noise pollution issue in parks is air tour over flights which have been a focus of the National Park Service since 1975. However, the deterioration of the soundscape due to all sources of human-caused noise is just starting to be addressed.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are participating in a larger study that may point the way to the future of noise management in the national park system through the lessons learned and the techniques developed in those parks.

For the past few years, these parks have been the subject of noise monitoring and analysis. A combination of unattended monitoring and targeted monitoring to establish daily and seasonal noise variations, and to identify the nature and levels of intrusive noise, is proving to be a promising strategy. The National Park Service is drafting a manual describing this method and plans to define a credible process for describing a park’s soundscape based on disparate data.

Of the over 1400 vascular plants known to occur in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, 40 have been identified as ‘sensitive’. The term sensitive is applied generally here to include those species that are state or federally listed, are rare or endemic in California, are at the limit of their range, or have a limited distribution. Little is known about the status and habitat requirements of most sensitive species within the two parks. There are comprehensive lists of the sensitive plants either known or suspected to occur within Kings Canyon, Sequoia. These lists will allow us to develop more effective survey strategies for detecting and describing the distribution of sensitive plants within the parks. Of specific interest are those that may be affected by disturbances such as fire suppression, prescribed burning, construction or road building, or long-term climate change.

Nearly one in eight plant species in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is non-native. Many of these species appear to have a fairly small impact on the parks, but many others are drastically changing ecosystem structure and processes.

Non-native plant species are those that are introduced to an area by humans either intentionally or unintentionally. These plants are also known as alien, exotic, introduced, and non-indigenous. They are an enormous concern for the National Park Service; recent information indicates that non-native plants are infesting 4600 new acres of federal land each day. Yellow star thistle is highly invasive and has been widely dispersed throughout California as a result of human presence.

Non-native species reduce biodiversity, jeopardize endangered plants and animals and degrade habitats. Some species, such as giant reed, can completely dominate vast areas of land, excluding virtually all vegetation and dramatically altering water and fire cycles. Non-natives are also known to hybridize with native species, altering native genetic diversity and integrity.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have a well-researched non-native plant management plan in place. Early efforts have already eradicated at least one highly invasive non-native plant species (yellow star thistle), and have identified several other infestations that are yet in their very early stages. The year 2002 marked a major increase in eradication efforts, with numerous non-native plants removed from the parks by the end of the year. These efforts continue and we look forward to healthy, less-impacted ecosystems in the years ahead.

The introduction of fish has had many unintended effects – the most dramatic being the resulting decline in the mountain yellow-legged frog populations due to predation. When fish are present, they eat frogs, force frogs into marginal habitat, and fragment the population, the latter of which hinders re-colonization.

In order to monitor the density, distribution, and species composition of native and exotic fish, counts are regularly conducted along set transects. Transects of western pond turtles in low elevation rivers and streams are another important monitoring project. These turtles are impacted negatively by non-native bullfrogs that eat the young. Many species of amphibians are of limited distribution and thus vulnerable to human disturbance.

Exotics pose many unique management problems including competition, direct displacement, and direct competition. Exotic beavers alter the riparian habitat and are therefore monitored regularly. Feral cats kill native species, pigs tear up the soil, and cattle graze and trample native vegetation and thus must be excluded from the parks. In 2001, cattle fencing will be installed along more of the parks’ boundary.

Habitat fragmentation affects many species, but ones with large home ranges, and those that are migratory in nature. Some of the park species, such as the Pacific fisher (under consideration for listing as federally endangered or threatened), are now isolated from populations north of the parks. Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep are currently listed as endangered under both federal and state law. Their numbers are greatly reduced due to effects of mountain lion predation. Mountain lion predation of sheep at lower elevations has restricted sheep from using important portions of their winter range. The result is reduced winter forage and poorer nutrition for both adults and young sheep. There is also sustained risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep. The California Department of Fish and Game is working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to prepare a recovery plan. Continued protection of fisher, bighorn sheep, and other species and populations within the parks and across agency boundaries holds great significance for their future survival.

During the spring, the marmots regularly take apart the under-side of numerous vehicles to go after anti-freeze. The result is disabled vehicles, cabins with holes chewed through them, and marmots consuming potentially harmful chemicals. After extensive monitoring, biologists found that in a single year, several hundred marmots have been involved. Some marmots have even exited the park when vehicles were driven away with an unsuspecting marmot hidden under the hood. The distance record to date is when one marmot caught a ride to Santa Monica, CA. The current solution to the problem is chicken wire around vehicles in the spring – another alternative would be to eliminate the parking lot.

Pack and saddle stock have been used in the southern Sierra Nevada since the mid-nineteenth century, first for exploration and then in conjunction with sheep and cattle grazing and mining. In the late nineteenth century and progressively into the twentieth century, pack and saddle stocks were used for access to mountains of the region for recreational purposes. The numbers of pack and saddle stock used for recreational trips increased and peaked in the 1930s, dropped in the 1940s, increased again in the 1950s, and have since declined. In addition, pack stock are used extensively to support trail building and maintenance activities in the wilderness.

Some disruption of natural ecosystems and processes by pack and saddle stock is expected and considered acceptable as a consequence of a form of backcountry use that is appropriate in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The impacts of stock use, however, are potentially significant enough to require a management program for its regulation. Unlike many western national parks, pack stock are allowed to graze in many of the wilderness meadows within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The stock use and meadow management program uses an interdisciplinary approach to assessing the effect of pack stock on park resources, develops and distributes information on regulations and minimum impact stock practices, and works with park wilderness staff to monitor meadow conditions in popular areas. Information on trip planning for recreational pack stock users can be found at the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Finally, direct human disturbance to wildlife in the parks comprises a major part of the parks’ work. Beyond the effects of visitation that one would expect (automobile traffic, trails, etc.); there are two other unusual circumstances. One is the effect developed areas have on marmots. In Mineral King, parking lots and cabins were built in an area occupied by marmots, creating attractants for their desire for cover and new opportunities for their chewing habits and quest for minerals.

Because these parks vary from low to very high elevations, you can find a variety of climates here and all on the same day. Be prepared with layers of clothing. Temperature varies by elevation. Because these parks range from 1500 feet to 14,494 feet in elevation, conditions change drastically depending on where you are. Lower elevations are characterized by mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. This would be anything below 4000 ft. Precipitation usually occurs from January to mid-May; rain in the summer is rare. Average rainfall is about 26″. During the winter, low-hanging clouds often drift in from the west, obscuring the countryside for several days at a time.

Summer generally runs from late June to early September. The forested areas of the parks offer warm days and cool evenings. These middle elevations receive an average of 40-45″ of precipitation annually. Much of this falls during the winter, resulting in a deep blanket of snow from December to May. Sub-zero temperatures, however, are rare. In the summer, occasional afternoon thundershowers may occur. The foothills chaparral is hot and dry, but the mid-elevation sequoia groves offer warm days and pleasant nights. Temperatures in Cedar Grove are generally hotter than the average for the middle elevations, and cooler than the foothills. Temperatures in mid-summer may reach the 90′s. Cedar Grove is closed in the winter due to common rock falls on the road.

In fall and winter, Lodgepole Campground is generally 10-15 degrees F colder than the average middle-elevation temperature. Cooler temperatures arrive to all elevations. In some areas, fall adds a touch of color to the landscape. Sudden storms can dust everything with snow before quickly melting. Fall here generally lasts from mid-September through November. Autumn is a great, uncrowded time to visit the parks.

Winter here generally lasts from November until mid-April. This is a great time to explore lower elevations in the parks and the sequoia groves are covered in snow. A few campgrounds are open. The roads to Cedar Grove and Mineral King are closed. Pacific rains turn foothills grasses green and bring deep snowy silence to higher elevations. Come prepared for winter driving on snowy or icy roads. Some facilities shut down for winter.

Spring is a moveable feast here, beginning in late January or early February in the lower Foothills and lasting until July in the High Sierra. By May, the Foothills are rapidly moving into summer but stay out of the dangerous, cold and swift waters of the high running rivers. Deep snow makes trails in the High Sierra a challenge best left to the experienced. The road to Cedar Grove usually opens in mid-April and the Mineral King Road by Memorial Day; weather permitting.

Current Weather

Natural wonders present hazards. Rocks roll, trees topple, and limbs drop without warning. Wild animals, uneven ground, and changing weather can pose dangers. People may create hazards through campfires, traffic, snow play, and poor decisions. Most park deaths result from drowning in rivers.

Remember you are visiting two different areas; a National Park and a National Forest. Some activities may be illegal in the Park but legal in the Forest. Be sure to keep track of where you are.

The Park Service works hard to reduce risks and provide you with the best information, but in the end you are responsible for your safety. Keep alert. Know about the hazards where you are going and what you are doing. Read warnings and ask a ranger for advice.

Water is the main cause of death in the Sequoia’s. Rocks are smooth and slippery. Stay away from the water’s edge. Many drowning victims were walking or climbing near rivers and unexpectedly fell in. Spring runoff is particularly dangerous in rivers. Climbing on rocks and boulders near rivers can be very unsafe as they may shift suddenly, spilling you into the rapids.

When driving Mountain Roads brakes burn out and they can overheat causing them to fail. Remember to drive slow and safe. Make sure your vehicle is up to date with all maintenance. To avoid your brakes overheating always downshift (in automatic vehicles, put the gearshift on 1, 2, or L). The engine gets louder but it will save your brakes. Let others pass you if you’re worried that you’re holding up traffic. Slower vehicles must use paved turnouts to let vehicles behind them pass. Do this even if you are going the speed limit. Extreme elevation changes over short distances mean park roads are steep, narrow, and winding — but filled with breathtaking vistas. So take your time!

Please observe that there is a vehicle length advisory. Sixteen miles from Ash Mountain to Giant Forest includes 130 curves and 12 switchbacks. There is a vehicle-length advisory for the 12 steepest miles within that stretch. From Potwisha Campground to the Giant Forest Museum, the advised maximum vehicle length is 22 feet. The alternative: take Highway 180 from Fresno to Grant Grove, then turn south on the Generals Highway.

The maximum vehicle length limits on the Generals Highway are 40 feet (12 m) for single vehicles or 50 feet (15 m) for vehicles plus a towed unit. If you are towing a smaller vehicle, consider camping in the foothills and using the smaller car to explore.

Bicyclers ride only on roads (not trails), single file with traffic, and wear light colors after dark. People under 18 must wear a helmet.

Gasoline is not sold within park boundaries. Be sure to fill up in one of the towns near the park entrance OR at one of three locations in the national forest bordering part of the park: year-round at Hume Lake (near Grant Grove), and late spring into fall at Stony Creek (between Giant Forest and Grant Grove) or Kings Canyon Lodge (between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove).

Please remember to slow down! Wildlife has the right of way. Everything from tarantulas and snakes to deer and bears need to cross these roads safely.

Store all food and related supplies properly, including ice chests. Dispose of all garbage properly. Store all food and anything with a scent (even if you don’t consider it food). This includes garbage, recyclables, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, first-aid kits, baby wipes, lotion, hairspray, scented tissue, air freshener, pet food, insect repellent, tobacco products, baby car-seats, and window cleaner. Bears recognize ice chests, cans, bottles, and grocery bags so store them also. Never leave food unattended.

In all campgrounds, store all food and related supplies in the metal storage boxes. Only when camping where there are no metal boxes, store food and related supplies out of sight inside a vehicle. Never leave camp unattended if food is not stored. Take infant car seats out of vehicles when parked overnight. Bears may enter campsites during the day, even if people are there. Keep a clean camp. Put trash in bear-proof cans and dumpsters regularly.

Dehydration is another safety factor to always be aware of. Park air is usually dry and the sun is strong. Many people are mildly dehydrated all the time. If you stop urinating or have very yellow urine, you need to drink immediately. Other symptoms of dehydration are paleness, fatigue, headache, nausea, light-headedness, vomiting, increased body temperature, or an inability to concentrate. Drink plenty of fluids. Drink frequently. Sports drinks help supply electrolytes lost through sweat. The most important thing is to keep enough water in your body.

Do not drink water from streams, rivers, creeks, or lakes. Giardia is present in all natural water sources in the park and can cause serious illness. Each of the parks’ 13 water systems is tested regularly to ensure meeting state and federal standards. Annual Consumer Confidence Reports are available at visitor centers or by calling 559-565-3341.

Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition which can occur year-round and in temperatures as high as the 60s. Stay dry and snack often. If others don’t respond to the need for warmer clothes or are stumbling, forgetful, or extremely tired and drowsy, get warm sugary drinks into them immediately. Get them into dry clothing, sleeping bags, and shelter. If symptoms continue or worsen, seek medical help immediately.

Sunlight contains UV radiation that can quickly burn skin and eyes — especially at higher altitudes. Use protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen. On hikes, carry extra sunscreen with you. Be especially careful around water as UV rays are reflected upward burning unexpected areas and doubling your exposure.

Always take into affect that the weather can change at anytime during the warmer months. As soon as you see dark clouds or lightening or hear thunder, get inside a large building or a vehicle. Otherwise crouch down on the ground (don’t lie down). Don’t stand near large solitary trees. Avoid projecting above the surrounding landscape such as standing on a ridge, on Moro Rock, or in meadows. Stay away from open water, wire fences, and metal railings which can carry lightning from a distance. Be aware that lightning can strike ahead of a coming storm — even when there is blue sky overhead.

Poison oak is common in the foothills up to 5,000 feet. Red in the fall with whitish berries, bare in the winter, in spring it has shiny green leaves in groups of three. If you touch poison oak, wash skin and cloths thoroughly as soon as possible.

Cell phones generally don’t work in the parks because of the great distance to cell towers and the rugged terrain. Don’t count on cell phones working here. Note where pay phones are available or ask a ranger.

For you and your neighbors to see and appreciate wildlife, please note that pets are not permitted on any of the trails in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In campgrounds and picnic areas, pets must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must be less than 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. For your pet’s safety, please don’t leave pets in hot cars. Pets cannot be left tied and unattended at any time.

Remember that the rock here is an integral part of a larger ecosystem. Like the rest of the parks, it is protected as wilderness for people to enjoy in a natural state that preserves it intact for future generations of climbers. Climb clean.

Fishing is permitted in most parts of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and in adjacent national forests. Persons 16 years of age or older are required to have a California State Fishing license. Get park-specific regulations at any visitor center.

In the National Forest, pets are allowed on trails. But the leash must be less than 6 feet long. See map below for locations of national forest areas adjoining Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Giant Sequoia National Monument is administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Here are some top tips for taking the shuttle:

Park only at larger lots: Sherman Tree Parking and Trail, Lodge pole Campground Parking Area (go through the campground entrance kiosk), Giant Forest Museum, or Wuksachi. If you plan to use the Giant Forest Route along the Generals Highway, avoid using the Giant Forest Museum lot on holiday weekends. If you have an RV, use RV spaces where available.

Before leaving your vehicle take a small backpack with what you need for the day. Pack a newspaper and map, snacks, water, jacket, wallet. Take all other food and items with a scent out of your car or campsite and store them in a bear-proof box. Learn more about bears and required food storage.

Here are some shuttle logistics: Panels at each stop give details about the shuttles, what time the last bus of the day leaves that stop, and what there is to see at that location.
Stop at Lodge pole Visitor Center or the Giant Forest Museum for more information and trip-planning ideas. Check signs or ask the driver if the shuttle is going your way (shuttles traveling in both directions go to each shuttle stop). Keep track of time in the late afternoon so as not to miss the last shuttle (times vary from stop to stop). If you need to ride a shuttle from Giant Forest Museum to get back to your car, be sure to get back there before the last shuttle leaves the museum. Not every shuttle on the Giant Forest Route goes to Wuksachi Lodge. If you are headed there, ask the shuttle drivers if their shuttle goes that far. Allow people to exit the bus before you board.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks support a wide diversity of animal species, reflecting the range in elevation, climate, and habitat variety here. Over 260 native vertebrate species are in the parks; numerous additional species may be present but have not been confirmed. Of the native vertebrates, five species are extirpated (extinct here), and over 150 are rare or uncommon.

There have been some studies of invertebrates here, but there is not enough information to know how many species occur in the parks. Many of the parks’ caves contain invertebrates, some of which occur only in one cave and are known nowhere else in the world.

A number of animals live in the area year-round; some breed here, while others winter here. Local species include the gray fox, bobcat, striped and spotted skunks, black bear, woodrat, pocket gopher, white-footed mouse, California quail, scrub jay, lesser goldfinch, wren-tit, acorn woodpecker, gopher snake, California king snake, striped racer, western whiptail lizard, and the California newt.

Winters in this region bring snow, sometimes to depths of 6 to 15 feet. Year-round and seasonal residents include the chickaree, gray squirrel, golden-mantled ground squirrel, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, and migratory and a variety of resident birds (western tanager, violet-green swallow, white-throated swift, Wilson’s warbler, olive-sided flycatcher, hermit thrush, western bluebird, and pileated woodpecker). Reptiles are not common, but the mountain king snake, rubber boa, western fence lizard, and alligator lizard are occasionally seen.

The high country is a land of lakes, meadows, some open forest, and miles of granite. Mammals are less common here, and food is scarce. It is only here that you will find the elusive Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. Other mammals include the marmot, pika, and white-tailed jack rabbit. Birds include the Clark’s nutcracker, mountain bluebird, and gray-crowned rosy finch. In this region, you may also be lucky enough to find a mountain yellow-legged frog, a declining species for which recovery efforts are now underway.

Black bears are an integral part of the Sierra ecosystem and one of the many wildlife species the National Park Service is mandated to protect. Black bears range throughout both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – where they forage for natural foods – digging up roots in meadows, ripping apart logs, and peering into tree cavities for food. Unfortunately, when human food becomes available, they learn to forage for human food in place of natural food – digging up your backseat to get the cooler in the trunk, ripping apart trailer doors, and peering into your car for food.

This change in foraging behavior also leads to changes in other behaviors such as the time bears are active, the range in elevation and habitat types where bears occur, and their behavior toward humans. Ensuing conflicts between bears and humans result in damaged property, personal injuries, and the destruction of some bears. The unnatural behavior and resultant losses are unacceptable. As a result, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have a long-standing human-bear management program.

Amphibians, reptiles, and fish are found at all elevations within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and certain species may be found at all times of the year. Their occurrence ranges from common western fence lizards to extirpated locally extinct yellow-legged frogs. The parks also have numerous species of exotics such as the bullfrog and many species of fish, which were brought into naturally fishless lakes to make the area more attractive to anglers.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ provide habitat for over 200 species of birds, including many neo-tropical migrants. Park biologists monitor birds to obtain more information about individual species and also because they are indicator species of local and regional change for the larger ecosystem. Documented effects of DDT on peregrine falcons and brown-headed cowbird nest parasitism on songbirds have alerted us to the dangers of pesticides and over-development. In the Sierra Nevada, these factors are implicated in the precipitous decline of the willow flycatcher.

Ticks are common in foothill grasses. Check yourself after a walk. Their bite is painless, but small percentages carry Lyme disease. Remove ticks carefully with tweezers. Seek a ranger’s and/or doctor’s advice. Fleas on rodents can carry plague. Deer mice feces can carry Hantavirus. Please do not feed or touch ANY park animals. Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus. The chance of infection is low and human illness unusual. Still, try to avoid mosquito bites. In mosquito areas, wear protective clothing or use repellant.

Although rattlesnakes and cougars live here, they are shy and will try to avoid you if given a chance. Always watch where you put your hands and feet, especially when climbing on warm rocks. Most snake bites here result from teasing or handling. Very few people die from bites, but tissue damage can be severe. If bitten, avoid panic. Call a ranger or 911.

Chances of seeing a cougar (also called a mountain lion) are very small. But on rare occasions, cougars have attacked people and pets. If you see a cougar, your goal is to convince it that you do not want trouble but may be dangerous. Don’t run or turn your back. Instead look as large as possible by raising your arms over your head. Pick up children. Wave your hands and shout. If attacked, fight back. Report any cougar sightings to a ranger.

Never approach any bear, regardless of its size. If you encounter a bear, act immediately. Throw objects at it from a safe distance. Yell, clap your hands, and bang pots together. If there is more than one person, stand together to present a more intimidating figure, but do not surround the bear. Use caution if you see cubs, as the mother may act aggressively to defend them. When done together, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. Never try to directly retrieve anything once a bear has it. Please report all incidents and sightings to a ranger. See the Wildlife Precautions page for further safety tips. Please, never feed the wild life.

Part of your entrance and camping fees stay in the park to improve the experience here — repairing roads, campgrounds, trails, picnic areas, and restrooms. Fees have also funded updated exhibits, improved visitor centers, and better naturalist slide programs.

7-day pass :
$20 per vehicle or $10 per person on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or bus.

Annual pass:
$30 admits all passengers in a private vehicle for one year from month of purchase.

Groups:

Non-commercial groups entering the park in a bus or vehicle with a capacity of 15 persons or more will be charged $10 for each person on board. Exceptions:

•Anyone who is 15 or younger is exempt from paying an entrance fee.

•Passes may be used for entry as defined on the back of the pass.

•In many cases the driver will have been hired for transportation only and is exempt from paying the entrance fee.

•The total fee charged will not exceed the equivalent commercial fee for that type of vehicle.

Wilderness permits are required for all overnight camping outside designated campgrounds. There is an overnight camping fee of $15 per trip for permits issued by these parks.

Permits are not required for day hikes, except in the Mt Whitney area. All hikers (even day hikers) to Mt. Whitney are required to obtain a permit from the Inyo National Forest.

Anyone wishing to visit Crystal Cave must be part of a guided tour. Tour tickets are not sold at the cave entrance. They must be purchased in person at Foothills or Lodgepole visitor centers in Sequoia National Park. After purchasing tickets allow at least 1½ hours to arrive at the cave.

Special use permits are available for certain activities in the park, such as weddings and scattering of ashes. Please call 559-565-3153.

The parks offer 14 campgrounds with over 800 established campsites. Fees vary depending on location. There is a camping limit of 14 days during the period from June 14-September 15 with a total of 30 days per year.

Only three campgrounds are open year-round: Lodgepole, Azalea, and Potwisha. Four campgrounds do not permit trailers and RVs: Buckeye Flat, Canyon View, Atwell Mill, and Cold Springs. In other campgrounds, site size varies and many sites are not suitable f

or very long RVs.

All but two campgrounds are first-come, first-served; Lodgepole and Dorst take reservations for summer visits.

All park campgrounds often fill up on Saturday nights in July and August. However, chances of finding a campsite from Sunday afternoons through Friday afternoons are very good.

All campgrounds in these parks may be visited by black bears. With their excellent intelligence and sense of smell, they easily learn to seek human food. Then these usually shy animals may damage cars, coolers, and tents to get at it. If a bear gets very destructive, it must be killed.

Campgrounds offer metal bear-proof storage boxes (box sizes are listed for each campground; avoid bringing coolers that won’t fit). Check park bulletin boards for instructions when you arrive. While black bears can be dangerous, it’s our food, not us, which they are after. There are no grizzly bears in these parks.

Buckeye Flat Campground is open late spring to early September (through the end of Labor Day weekend). It is located in the foothills along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, 4 miles from Sequoia Park entrance & 12 miles from Giant Forest. There are no reservations it’s a first come, first served basis. There are 28 sites and 1 handicap site. It is tents only and there flush toilets. There are two bear-proof food-storage boxes provided at each campsite: one is 47″ long x 17″ deep x 17-3/4″ high, the other is 47-3/4″ long x 34″ deep x 22″ high. There are several additional boxes for sites to share. The fee is $18 per night.

Cold Springs Campground is open late May through October 31. It is located in the Mineral King area, 23 miles up the steep, winding Mineral King Road from Highway 198. RVs & trailers are not permitted. There are no reservations it is a first come, first served basis. There are 31 sites & 9 walk-in sites, pit toilets, pay phones and ranger programs in July & August. They are 2-1/2 miles from Silver City Resort’s restaurant, gifts, limited supplies, & showers (no gasoline). Water is turned off in mid-October. One metal, bear-proof food-storage box provided at each campsite: 47″ long x 17″ deep x 17-3/4″ high. The fee is $12 per night.

Dorst Creek Campground is open late May through Labor Day (early September).
They are located 10 miles from Giant Forest, under open stands of evergreen trees. There are 204 sites. Reservations are available during late May through Labor Day (early September). They may be made starting 6 months in advance of the date you would like to camp. Call Reserve America toll free: 877-444-6777 (TDD 877-833-6777) from 10 am – midnight EST March 1- October 31 or 10am – 10pm EST November 1 through February OR go online (www.recreation.gov). Customer Service: 888-448-1474.
They have RV dump and fill stations, flush toilets, pay phones and group sites. They are 8 miles from Lodgepole Market, deli, showers & laundry (summer only), & post office; 6 miles from Wuksachi Lodge, restaurant, and gift shop. They offer Ranger programs in summer. One metal, bear-proof food-storage box provided at each campsite; sizes vary. Smallest boxes are 47″ long x 17″ deep x 17-3/4″ high. There are several additional boxes for sites to share. The fee is $20 per night.

Group Campsites:

Lodgepole Campground is open all year. They are location along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, 2 miles, from the Giant Forest sequoia grove; 21 miles from Sequoia Park entrance. Reservations are available from late May through mid-September. You may make them starting 6 months in advance of the date you would like to camp. Call Reserve America toll free: 877-444-6777 (TDD 877-833-6777) from 10 am – midnight EST March 1- October 31 or 10am – 10pm EST November 1 through February or go online: www.recreation.gov. Customer Service: 888-448-1474. There is one metal, bear-proof food-storage box provided at each campsite: 47″ long x 17″ deep x 17-3/4″ high. There are several additional boxes for sites to share. SUMMER: 214 tent & RV sites, flush toilets, RV disposal station, summer ranger programs, pay phone. They are within 1/4-mile of Lodgepole market, restaurant, and gift shop. In summer showers & laundry are available. Reservations are recommended. FALL/WINTER/SPRING: 25 walk-in tent sites, RV availability limited by snow on a first-come, first-served basis. One set of flush toilets, and pay phones. The fee during the summer is $20per night (or half price with Golden Age or Golden Access Passports). FALL/WINTER/SPRING: The fee is $18 until heavy snows; then fee is $10 (or half price with Golden Age or Golden Access Passports)

South Fork Campground is open all year. They are located in the foothills on the South Fork of the Kaweah River. On South Fork drive 13 miles from Highway 198. There are no reservations it is a first come, first served basis. There are 10 sites, NO drinking water and pit toilets. The last miles of the road to this campground are unpaved, and may be slippery when wet. One metal, bear-proof food-storage box provided at each campsite: 47″ long x 17″ deep x 17-3/4″ high. The fee is $12 per night May thru October then no fee.

Reservations may be made up to 6 months in advance of the date you wish to start camping there. For example, you can make a reservation for July 4 beginning on January 4.

Reservations by phone are available toll free: 10am-midnight (EST). from March 1 – October 31 and 10am – 10pm (EST) from November 1 through February: 1-877-444-6777 (TDD 1-877-833-6777).

Just north of Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon National Park on Hwy 180 is Hume Lake. The lake offers camping, swimming, and picnicking.

West Side of the Parks:
There is Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Hume Lake, Jennie Lakes Wilderness, Monarch Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Wishon Reservoir, Cartwright Reservoir, Florence Lake, Lake Thomas Edison, Yosemite National Park, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest and Kaweah Oaks Preserve.

East Side of the Parks:
There is Devils Postpile National Monument, Inyo National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness, South Sierra Wilderness, Domeland Wilderness, California Bighorn Sheep Zoological Area, South Lake, Lake Sabrina
Manzanar National Historical Site, Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve.

Both roads leading to these parks approach from the west. They are open all day, every day, depending on weather. No roads cross these parks. From the east, no roads reach the park boundary. To find out recent park road conditions and other information call: 1-559-565-3341.

To enter Sequoia Park from highways 65 or 99, go east on Highway 198 to the park entrance.

To enter Kings Canyon National Park from Highway 99, go east on Highway 180 to the park entrance.

The main park road, the Generals Highway, connects these two entrances.

There is a new shuttle available only during the summer. For a small fee you can now ride a shuttle from the city of Visalia to the Giant Forest Museum. Once at the museum explore the Giant Forest area on the free park shuttle.

Many park roads have very tight curves, so vehicle-length advisories are in effect. Generals Highway for 16 miles between Sequoia’s foothills and the Giant Forest, the advised maximum vehicle length is 22 feet. To take the alternative route take highway 180 from Fresno to Grant Grove. Mineral King Road is not recommended for RVs or trailers (RVs and trailers are not permitted in the campgrounds there). Crystal Cave Road has a maximum vehicle length of 22 feet. No trailers permitted. As for Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow road, RVs and trailers are not recommended.

The closest commercial airports are in Fresno & Visalia. Fresno Air Terminal (or “Fresno Yosemite International”) is 1¼ hours from the Kings Canyon National Park entrance on Hwy 180 and 1¾ hours from the Sequoia National Park entrance on Hwy 198.

Visalia Airport is 1 hour from the Sequoia National Park entrance on Hwy 198 and 1½ hours from Kings Canyon National Park entrance on Hwy 180.

Amtrak serves Visalia twice daily via motor coach. These buses connect trains stopping in Hanford with the same Transit Center in Visalia served by the Sequoia Park Shuttle. (Hanford is about 30 miles west of Visalia, 1¼ hours from the Sequoia National Park entrance on Hwy 198.)

There is also an Amtrak station in Fresno (1¾ hours from Kings Canyon National Park entrance on Hwy 180).

Approximate Mileage from the following major cities to Sequoia National Park:

By Car:

San Jose, CA – 226.94 miles

Bakersfield, CA – 113.10 miles

Los Angeles, CA – 224.31 miles

San Miguel, CA – 148.71 miles

Death Valley, CA – 339.90 miles

Las Vegas, NV – 399.38 miles

By Plane:

Fresno Yosemite International Airport – 82.65 miles

Visalia Municipal Airport – 40.57 miles

By Mail:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

47050 Generals Highway

Three Rivers, California 93271-9700

By Phone:
1-559-565-3341 for recorded information or access to park staff

By Fax:
1-559-565-3730

Map

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Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

June 18th, 2009 No comments
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Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

 West Central, California

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are uniquely intertwined to bring you some of the most fascinating features of middle California. Here you will not want to miss out in seeing the world’s largest trees and participating in the large array of outdoor adventure activities this special park has to offer. You will enjoy hiking, caving, camping, backpacking, the Giant Forest Museum and much, much more. Continue reading for further Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks information.

Uniqueness

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are an unspoiled treasure of some of the most striking scenery in the world. From its towering giant sequoia trees and soaring mountain peaks to cascading creeks, flowering meadows, and star-studded evening skies, you’ll be inspired by nature’s masterpiece.

Often referred to as one of California’s best national park vacations, Sequoia and Kings Canyon offers a multitude of year-round visitor attractions and recreational activities. Spring and summer offers sensational hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and cave tours. Winter boasts some of the finest cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow play to be found in the Sierras. And throughout the year, the park features ranger naturalist programs, nature walks, visitor centers, and interpretive museum exhibits to please all ages and interests.

At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks you’ll find the five largest living giant sequoia trees in the world. The Parks are also home to more than 300 animal species and 1,400 plant species. The beauty of Sequoia and Kings Canyon has inspired visitors for generations, and with on-going efforts to preserve the Park’s pristine settings, guests today can experience much of the Park the way it was viewed hundreds of years ago.

Whether you visit for one day or an entire week, you are welcomed to enjoy the peaceful tranquility, unsurpassed beauty, and endless attractions that are the trademarks of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

 

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