Visalia & Sequoia National Park ᛫ September 19 – 21, 2017
From Malibu, it took about four hours to reach our Couchsurfing host in Visalia. He had told us where the keys were hidden because he wasn’t home when we arrived. Shortly after we entered the house, his girlfriend came to welcome us. It was a really cute house and we had our own bedroom. I was very happy that there also were a washing machine and dryer and we could finally do our laundry. Our host came home from a work event and we all hung out in the kitchen, chatting and sharing stories. They gave us many good tips for our visit to Sequoia National Park the following day.
Visiting Our First National Park in California
We tried to wake up and leave early the next day, but that didn’t really work out. Before we actually went to Sequoia, we did some grocery shopping and had a late breakfast. We drove for one hour and entered the park a little after noon. It cost $30 for one car for one week, no matter how many people. Unfortunately, there was no ticket for only one day.
When we were approaching the park, the landscape already started to change. There were many green hills and a nice river flowed next to the street. After the park entrance, we drove on a very winding road to the first tourist stop. It was called Hospital Rock, is a sacred site for California Indian tribes and has some nice pictographs on it. We walked around it and down to the Middle Fork Kaweah River. The water was very clear and there were many stones and rocks. Combined with the trees and mountains it made a beautiful scenery.
Giants & Bears!
Afterward, we drove up the mountains with even more curves and sometimes narrow roads. We reached our next destination after one hour, the Sequoia forest. There were so many of these giant Sequoia trees, ranging between a height of 50 – 80m / 164 – 263ft. In consideration of their volume, they are the biggest trees on the planet. We walked the Big Trees Trail which usually takes about 15 minutes. But since we stopped and took pictures so many times, we needed an hour. 😀
It looked so nice all around us and we even stumbled across a bear! It was a small one with two babies in the trees. We didn’t see it at first, but then some other visitors told us to leave the trail and come up a hill a little bit so we wouldn’t chase it away. From there we could see it sitting next to a tree right next to the trail. I thought I would get scared if I ever met a wild bear, but it was very cute and thankfully not a big one that wanted to attack us. 😀
Next, we went to see the biggest known living tree, General Sherman. It is 83.8m / 275ft tall, but there was a fence around it so you couldn’t get close. And there were tons of tourists so we ended up not even getting a picture because the trees we had seen before were much more impressive. 😉
Waterfalls & Breathtaking Views
We continued the drive and went to the park at Lodgepole. From there we hiked for 45 minutes through the forest and over rocks to reach Tokopah Falls. We climbed around the rocks near the waterfalls and took many pictures. Then we hurried back to reach another place in time for the sunset that our host had recommended.
It is called Moro Rock and has many steps that we climbed as fast as possible so we wouldn’t miss the sunset. On our way up we met a guy who works for the park and told us we could join him and his coworkers. So we followed him across the railing, a few steps down (he assured us that this was safe and had been open to everybody before a drunk person died) and over some rocks.
We were very thankful to come to that part of the rock. From there we had a breathtaking view over the surrounding mountains and of the sun going down. Some of the guy’s friends joined, we listened to good music via loudspeakers and ate some snacks while enjoying the sunset.
It was a very fun time and they even invited us to a nearby party. But I had to drive the whole way back and I was tired anyway so we declined. When we got back to the car it was already dark. It took almost one hour to leave the park. At night it was more challenging driving on these streets, winding up and down the mountains.
That evening my right shin hurt because of switching between the gas and brake pedal so much. 😀 From the park exit, it was another hour back to Visalia. We again hung out with our host and his girlfriend before going to sleep.
Where to Next?
The next morning was the first in a very long time that I could sleep in. I woke up around 1 pm, we had some breakfast/lunch and looked for a place to stay near our next destination. We had already written some couchsurfers, but without positive responses. So we sent out more couch requests and searched for hostels and Airbnbs, but they were either too expensive or too far away. Thankfully, we got lucky and a host in El Portal accepted us last-minute. We packed our things back into the car and left Visalia in the early evening.
See More Pictures of Our Time in Sequoia National Park
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