Hello travelers! My name is Savanah Nunes (@earthtosavv). Welcome to my article on Sequoia National Park. From a young age, I have had a desire to travel and explore the world. I grew up in Southern Idaho near Twin Falls.
This area provided me with many outdoor opportunities such as kayaking, mountain biking, boating, zip-lining, rafting, and skiing and snowboarding to name a few. I have always had a star-eyed wonder and passion to see the world. But what really made me want to travel was my fifth grade teacher.
Every morning at the beginning of class, Mr. Kyles would turn on Google Earth and take our class on a virtual tour around the world. He showed us the Great Pyramids of Giza, Pompeii, the Grand Canyon, Chichen Itza, Niagara Falls, the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal and even Sequoia National Park. I knew one day I would visit Sequoia and 2021 was the year I did!
A Spectacular Day in Sequoia National Park
Last summer, I was sitting at home thinking about all the places I wanted to see. I started looking at my map and noticed there was a circle of national parks in southwestern USA, right under Southern Idaho.
I started writing down all the national parks in order and I called it ‘The Ultimate Southwestern Road-Trip’. It had seven national parks, a duration of eight days and a total of 3,800 miles. On that list was Sequoia National Park. Sequoia was an obvious stop as it houses some of the nation’s largest and oldest trees and was directly on the route to Yosemite National Park.
I made sure to have an entire day dedicated to this park. I drove through the beautiful foothills, visited the massive General Sherman Tree, walked through a sequoia, went on a hike through the Giant Forest and walked the 257ft height of Sentinel at the Giant Forest Museum. Even better, I got to see the park in snow which took the experience to a new level.
Sequoia National Park with Snow
This road trip was my first experience visiting national parks in the winter and it was amazing! Not only are the crowds much smaller but the snow offered incredible contrasting colors to the red bark of the trees. It was nice to not be rushed and to have more time to take the beauty of it all in.
The only inconvenience to visiting Sequoia in the winter is that several roads are closed. These include the Generals Highway to see the General Grant Tree, the road to Crystal Cave and the road to Tunnel Log.
Seeing the Biggest Tree on Earth
Seeing the General Sherman Tree was unbelievable! I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I hugged the biggest tree on earth. I had seen pictures of it before but seeing it in person, towering over me, made my jaw drop. Knowing that it grows the mass of a regular sized tree each year really put things into perspective on how truly enormous it is.
My Favorite Place at Sequoia – The Giant Forest
My favorite place at Sequoia National Park was the Giant Forest. On the Big Trees Trail there are signs full of information about how these have the thickest bark on earth, are resistant to disease and not only survive fires but use fires to regenerate. This was a highlight because not only did I get to walk through tons of Sequoias but I also learned some science to boot!
Top 5 Things To Do in Sequoia National Park
- Marvel at the Size of the General Sherman Tree: The largest tree on earth is a sight to behold! Estimated to be around 2,300 to 2,700 years old and growing at the rate of a regular sized tree every year. This means that in hundreds of years time the tree will be even bigger!
- Hike Big Trees Trail: A relatively easy and leisurely hike that takes you through a forest of giant trees in Sequoia National Park. You can combine this walk with another route that leads to Sunset Rock.
- Visit the General Grant Tree: The General Grant Tree has a stature and aura about it that led the tree to being declared a national shrine in 1965 by President Eisenhower. It’s the only example of a “living” shrine in the US. The tree is closed in winter but worth visiting outside of winter.
- Take Awesome Photos at Tunnel Log: This is the place you have probably seen all over Instagram. After a massive sequoia tree fell over the pavement of Crescent Meadow Road many years ago, visitors have been driving through the tree and taking photos ever since. Again, the tunnel is closed in winter but worth visiting during other times.
- Explore Crystal Cave: A marble cavern that is best experienced by taking a half-mile loop through the cave. You can also do some more hiking to and from the cave parking area although it gets a bit steep. Because of the fragile nature of the cave, a guided tour is required.
Where to Stay near Sequoia National Park
I stayed in an Airbnb in Springville. It was an hour drive to the park but the scenery on the drive was absolutely breathtaking, so I didn’t mind the drive. Three Rivers is the closest town to Sequoia National Park. However, places there fill up fast – so travelers should book a month or so in advance.
Need to Know Before you Go
- Make sure to arrive early to beat the crowds
- Visit the massive General Sherman Tree first
- Be wary of deer when driving through the foothills
- Try to have dinner in Three Rivers – great food and a river view!
- Check the roads online if visiting in winter – it sucks to plan to see something and then get to a road closed sign!
I would like to leave you with my favorite memory from my visit to Sequoia National Park. It would have to be the moment when I was hugging the General Sherman Tree. Feeling the thick bark and realizing that my hands were touching not only the biggest living tree, but the second largest living creature on the planet, brought tears to my eyes. It was incredible!