Day 3 – Sequoia National Park

Barely Hanging on to Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip

Well, wow, those are some big trees at Sequoia National Park.

Itinerary:

  • 9:00 am Left Visalia heading toward Sequoia National Park stopping for a few errands
  • 11:00 am Enter Sequoia National Park
  • 11:22 am Drive by Tunnel Rock
  • 12:24 pm First major stop at Auto Log (road work in the park delayed us a bit)
  • 12:52 pm Stopped at Buttress Tree
  • 12:55 pm Drove under Tunnel Log
  • 1:12 pm Began ascending Moro Rock
  • 1:32 pm Reached Moro Rock Summit
  • 1:50 pm Reached base of Moro Rock Trail
  • 2:30 pm Started walking General Sherman Trail
  • 2:57 pm Reached General Sherman then headed back shortly after
  • 4:30 pm Left Sequoia National Park and drove to Santa Clarita to stay the night

Our Adventure:

Citrus Trees in Visalia, California, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Citrus Trees in Visalia, California, Dirty Windshield Road Trip

Visalia is true California countryside. Long, straight country roads lined with a variety of orange, lime, and olive trees. Row after row of trees in virtually every direction. Their dark green leaves pop along the yellow grass. Absolutely breathtaking!

Sequoia National Park

Entering Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, California
Entering Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, California

Leaving Visalia, you enter Three Rivers, which is the adorable town that holds the National Park. Cute houses and Sequoia themed stores and inns line the winding road to the park. However, it is the Kaweah Watershed that drew my eyes most. As the summer nears its end, the water was rather low, but the water lines along the edges show the extreme variance in water held throughout the year.

Mountain Stream, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Mountain Stream, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip

Switchbacks

Upon entering Sequoia National Park, the road begins to ascend the mountainside in a series of tight switchbacks. The National Park Service was repairing one side of the main road that runs into and out of the parks southwest corner, so we did run into a minor delay here. As you drive up, many turnouts are available to view and photograph the scenic vistas. Tunnel Rock is along this section.

Tunnel Rock, Three Rivers, California, Dirty Windshield Road Trip, Sequoia National Park
Tunnel Rock, Three Rivers, California, Dirty Windshield Road Trip

Auto Log

Standing on top of Auto Log, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Standing on top of Auto Log, Sequoia National Park

Our first full stop was at this massive, fallen tree called Auto Log. In years past, cars were able to drive on top of enormous Log. Nowadays, this is not allowed due to heavier cars and the wood rotting over time. However, you can still walk the entire length tree and view the cut-off point where cars parked in yesteryear.

I recommend walking the path behind Auto Log. There are a few giant Sequoias you can walk up to and take photos of that most people do not seem to notice. It’s great if you are looking for shots with no people in the background. Colonel Young Tree is just a short distance behind.

Colonel Young Tree, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Colonel Young Tree

Buttress Tree

Next, we headed further down the General’s Highway and stopped to see Buttress Tree. Buttress Tree is another massive fallen tree whose base is pointing directly at the road. Most of the roots are still intact, so it provides a new perspective on their growth.

Buttress Tree, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Buttress Tree, Sequoia National Park

Tunnel Log

Right down the road is the famous Wawona Tree, now known as Tunnel Log. In 1881, a hole was cut through the tree so cars could drive through it. The tree since fell. Fortunately, they cut a new tunnel through the side. The tunnel is 8 ft high so most cars, SUVs, and trucks can easily fit through.

Moro Rock

Base of Moro Rock Trail, Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Base of Moro Rock Trail, Sequoia National Park

Next, we climbed over 350 steps to the summit of Moro Rock. As you ascend the Granite Dome, there are some truly epic views of the Great Western Divide. National Park info boards note how the view there is constantly changing. The surrounding mountains are granite which weathers away in sheets over time. What we see today may change by tomorrow. Current, future and past generations will all experience a different view of the Great Western Divide.

Summit of Moro Rock Sequoia National Park, Dirty Windshield Road Trip
Summit of Moro Rock

Both the trip up and the trip down Moro Rock offer an excellent experience. Trees growing off of the side, broken rocks, wildlife all can be expected to be visible along the route. Despite being 6,725 ft at the summit, I did not find it to be particularly difficult to look over the edge, and I am terrified of heights (although I challenge myself with heights frequently).

General Sherman – the Main Event

General Sherman - Too big to photograph, Sequoia National Park
General Sherman – Too big to photograph

The main event is General Sherman, aka the Largest Tree on Earth. It is the widest and heaviest, not the tallest earning its title for overall volume and weight. The humongous tree does require a bit of a walk to reach, but it’s worth every step.

Words cannot express how big this tree is. Comparing to a 21-story building, the branches on it were as big as full-grown maple trees. The area right around General Sherman is fenced since huge branches tend to fell without warning. You are still very close I’d say within 10-20ft along the wall. You have to back up a bit just to capture the entire tree in one shot.

General Sherman's Fallen Limbs, Sequoia National Park
General Sherman’s Fallen Limbs

Sequoia National Park In Comparison

Overall, Sequoia National Park has been the highlight of the trip thus far. If you had to choose between Sequoia and Yosemite, to me, hands down Sequoia is the winner. The trees at Yosemite pale in comparison to the monsters at Sequoia. With that said, if trees aren’t your thing Yosemite offers waterfalls, waterbeds, and excellent views. Both are great trips if you have the time.

Tomorrow we will be heading to the Los Angeles area for another adventure.

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