The Majesty of Our National Parks

We are now in Central California near the original National Parks. We are about 30 miles from Yosemite and 90 miles from Sequoia National Park which were both created 125 years ago this fall. We are parked at the Park of the Sierras.  It’s a Co-op park for Escapees members in Coarsegold (the geographical center of California) and is really beautiful. It was designed by RVers for RVers with big spots and nice views and has made a great home base for us over the last 10 days. 

In the past week, we’ve visited Yosemite three times and made a single day trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon farther South. We have over 600 pictures of these trips and even narrowing it to “favorites” leaves us with an overwhelming number. To say the least, these parks are majestic, awe-inspiring, and breath-takingly beautiful. It’s like being transported to another world or another time. “Old growth forest” takes on a whole new perspective when you’re standing next to trees over 1500 years old or looking at valleys carved by glaciers a million years ago. 

Put these parks on your must see list. They were on mine, and I’m glad we went before leaving California. Try to go in late April, if the winter has been mild/dry, or early to mid May if it’s been more harsh. Go during the week, if you can, so that you can enjoy the beauty without being stuck in traffic regularly. Give yourselves several days (3-5) for Yosemite and at least two for Sequoia & Kings Canyon. They’re huge parks and there’s so much to see, rushing takes the fun out of the trip. The waterfalls are better in the spring or after a good rain and we were lucky enough to go two days after an all day rain and snow storm, so we got to see them with good, powerful flows. Even 5 days later, we could see the flow had diminished. Speaking of waterfalls, here’s our compilation of “selfies” by waterfalls in both parks:

 

At Yosemite’s Tunnel Viewpoint. Bridalveil Falls is over Michelle’s shoulder.
  
Bridalveil Falls over 500 feet high
  
Upper Yosemite Falls from the Swinging Bridge. Yosemite Falls is over 2000 feet high
  
Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls – lower is between us by Bob’s head
  
A better view of Lower Yosemite Falls
  
Vernal and Nevada Falls from Washburn Point
  
Grizzly Falls in Kings Canyon

The roads are winding, but well banked and great for motorcycles or motoring in the Mini despite the lack of posted speeds in curves that so clearly should be lower.  The trees are wonderful. Both parks have groves of Giant Sequoia trees that are truly breathtaking. They’re not alone, as the Redwoods, Ponderosa and Sugar Pine trees do their best to give the Sequoia a run for their money. We have tried to capture their sheer size and beauty in pictures. Here’s the best we can do:

   

A giant right in the parking lot!
  

The roots of “The Fallen Monarch” aren’t rotted after more than 150 years!
  
At the base of the Grizzly Giant – 1,800 years old and 26 feet in diameter!
   

Another view of Grizzly Giant – the branch going out and up to the left is over 7′ in diameter and larger than any other non-Sequoia tree trunk in the area!
 
A whole grove of assorted pine giants
  
Michelle with a giant Ponderosa that smelled so much of vanilla!
  
Bob’s about to go “into the woods” on our hike out to Taft Point
   
General Grant “The Nation’s Christmas Tree” has a trunk diameter of 40 feet!
  
Redwood Canyon has over 15,000 Sequoia with over 2,100 that have diameters at least 10 feet
  
Getting into and out of Redwood Canyon was a narrow gravel path, but TOTALLY worth the drive
  
The fire scar on this living tree made its own tunnel
  
General Sherman is the largest tree (by volume) and is still almost 14′ wide at 180′ off the ground
  
In Sequoia national park
  
On southside drive in Yosemite Valley
  
Another from the valley floor
So, waterfalls and trees are nice, but don’t forget the granite mountains and river valleys!

 

Yosemite Valley seen from Glacier Point
  

El Capitan seen from Taft Point
  

Half Dome at sunset
  

 

The Royal Arches show the scars of glacial carving across from Half Dome
 
El Capitan from the valley floor
  

The front of Half Dome from Mirror Lake
  

 

The Merced river carved Yosemite Valley
 
Yosemite Valley
  

Kings Canyon is over 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon!
  

The road into the canyon here is following the Kings river, but we can’t see it because its so far below us
  

The powerful Kings River
 

So much beauty and majesty. Our words and pictures pale in comparison. What a gift this time has been to us and these parks are to the world. As a parting message, enjoy these sunsets from the parks!

From Yosemite:

 

   

From Sequoia:

   
       

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