Visiting Sequoia National Park has been on our list for quite some time. We've always heard that these tall and giant sequoia trees are quite a sight to see, so we were excited to include this location in our fun California road trip.
If you live in Los Angeles, you're in luck because it's only a 3.5-hour drive to this national park. The drive goes by really fast since you have a view of the mountains and pass through a bunch of orange trees and grape vines.
We wanted to stay in a cabin during our stay here, but by the time we looked (a few months in advance), all the cabins nearby were taken. So, the closest option we found at a reasonable price was the Comfort Inn at Three Rivers. It's an average hotel with a great staff and free breakfast in the lobby. The lobby area gets packed for breakfast, so make sure you're there early to avoid the crowd.
The entrance to the park from our hotel was only 15 minutes. Entrance fee is pretty pricey at $30 and that's probably the most we've paid to visit a national park. We stopped by the Foothills Visitor Center first and asked the park ranger for the best stops that didn't require too much hiking. He gave us 3 options that were all great recommendations: General Sherman Tree, Crescent Meadow and Round Meadow. We definitely wanted to visit General Sherman, since it's the world's largest tree.
The drive up the mountains to the sequoia trees takes an hour. The roads are narrow and windy, so the speed limit is basically 20 mph. It's a long drive, but again, the views are stunning, so it goes by pretty fast. Once you start seeing the sequoia trees, you're in awe of how tall and beautiful they are. You feel like you're in some sort of fairy tale.
Finally, we arrived at the Giant Forest Museum parking area and took the shuttle to the General Sherman Tree first. The tree was huge, indeed, but it was a little too touristy for us. There were tons of people with a long line to take a picture with the tree. Honestly, you can probably get better pictures of yourself with the trees in the Giant Forest Museum parking area.
We took our picture with General Sherman, walked around for 15 minutes and headed back to the Giant Forest Museum parking area to take another shuttle to Crescent Meadows. We were pretty excited for this site since the park ranger seemed really pumped for us to take pictures there. As soon as we got off the shuttle, some of the visitors informed us that there was a mama bear and her cubs in the meadows not too far away! We grabbed our cameras and jetted into the woods. We saw a group looking off into the meadows and a nice woman pointed out the bear and cubs to us. The cubs were up in the trees and the mama bear was slowly walking around watching them. It was such an amazing sight to see!! We couldn't believe we were THAT close to bears.
At first, we were a little scared and cautious, but there were a bunch of people around and that didn't seem to bother the mama bear at all, so we became more comfortable and got a little closer. It was one of the greatest moments of our lives seeing these cute cubs playing and climbing up and down the trees. By the way, these cubs can climb the tall, sequoia trees in a matter of seconds! They're so fast!!
The Crescent Meadow itself is a gorgeous area with pretty wildflowers everywhere. We've always seen pictures of these beautiful mountain wildflowers, but have never seen them in person.
As we were walking back to the shuttle stop, a deer appeared out of nowhere and started eating some grass right next to us. These deer are not afraid of people at all. I can't believe how close they got with all the people around! Again, another great moment of the wildlife in Sequoia.
ONE HUGE TIP: Make sure you take some bug spray with you; especially in the summer. We were being attacked by mosquitos like crazy once we entered the woods! Thank goodness we had some bug spray with us because otherwise, we would be dying and probably would have left in 5 seconds. They were ruthless going for our face and biting through our clothes!
We wanted to visit Round Meadow as well, but ran out of time. The last shuttle was at 6pm and we barely made it on that bus. If you're a hiker, you can hike back to the Giant Forest Museum, but we're both not hikers at all, so we needed to get on that shuttle.
As we drove down the mountains, we were getting pretty hungry, so we had some dinner at Sequoia Cider Mill Restaurant, not too far away from our hotel. We sat outside in the patio area with a great view of the mountains. We ordered some tasty drinks and enjoyed them very much. The food, on the other hand, was not so great. We shared a caesar salad and ribeye steak and everything tasted bland. We weren't expecting top-notch food around the area, so we weren't too disappointed. We were just happy to have some steak after our adventure!
We absolutely loved Sequoia National Park and hope to return someday again to explore more of the beautiful park. One day just wasn't enough!