Sequoia National Park
Since our family has arrived in California we wanted to take advantage of the great opportunities to explore this state. Our first chance came at the 4th of July. Now, if you know us or if you follow this blog, you know we love to get out and explore. So even though our little Ninja Princess had only been born 3 weeks earlier we still had to get out for the 4th of July.
So this is how this trip came about: Ninja Coolio – aka Jeremy (you can follow Ninja Coolio on Instagram) started looking for places within a few hours drive of Pasadena where we are currently living. He found the Sequoia National Park was about 3 hours, depending on traffic. We decided to pack up and take the kids for 2 days and visit the park.
Ninja Mama (that’s ME!), was extra excited about this trip because it is educational also. Being a homeschooling mama, I look for opportunities like this. So off we went!
We spent the night at the Wyndam in Visalia, California. Visalia is about 45 minutes from the park entrance. This town has plenty of good places to eat or to pick up supplies if you need something. There are also lots of hotel options as well within Visalia. We found ours from a quick Expedia search.
There are lodges in the park and closer to the entrance, but since we decided to go at the last minute these were all booked.
A Kid in Every Park – ATTENTION Parents of 4th Graders
Right now the National Park service has an amazing deal for those with 4th graders (or the home school equivalent) in their home. The program is called “a Kid in Every Park” and what it offers is FREE entrance to most national parks around the country, as well as some other national sites. Check out https://www.everykidinapark.gov/ for more info! Because Josiah is going into 4th grade we were able to make use of this. You will need to print out the online card, and then present it at the entrance. We were able to pick up his permanent card once we arrived at the park.
General Sherman Tree
(Our family of 5’s first family picture. General Sherman is the tree behind us.)
One of the highlights of Sequoia National Park is visiting the General Sherman Tree. This tree is the largest in the world currently. (This is based on both height and width put together). To get to General Sherman there is a good parking area (including restrooms) with a trail that can be easily walked. Because we had our Ninja Princess in her stroller, we opted for the in park shuttle system. My recommendation would be to skip that option. The shuttle system had long wait times, so I don’t recommend it. Handicap parking is available closer to the tree entrance.
Ethan pictured with the park shuttle system in the background.
This park ranger loved Josiah’s Link costume. She asked for a picture, to which we had to say “yes”!
On the way to General Sherman we walked through a sequoia that had fallen and been cut through to create the path. Literally thousands of names were carved in this tree.
Josiah (dressed as Link), had to stop and read about the trees. (I love these learning moments!)
Driving Through the Park
As you attempt to see various aspects of the Sequoia National Park you will find the roads are curvy, contain many switchbacks, and go up to high altitudes. That should not stop you! The sites are well worth every bit of the effort it takes to see them.
As you begin your assent up the mountains to see General Sherman and other parts of Sequoia National Park you will find beautiful sites like this aqua colored stream. This part of the park seems almost desert like with its vegetation and is vastly different from the area where the sequoias grow.
I couldn’t leave out the after picture! As we drove back to Visalia later that evening, I looked back and saw this sight! I love it when my kids fall asleep because they’ve had a full day of fun and learning out somewhere.
Sharing Our Heritage
One of our topics of conversation with our children that day, was the importance of the national parks. Land conservation, and climate preservation are very important. We shared with the boys how the national parks originated and how they are protected for all to see today. After living in China, our family really treasures outdoor space and land that is protected and clean.
For visiting a national park:
- Check discount days, free days, and the every kid in a park option. Some charge by car load, others charge per person.
- Expedia is a great option for last minute hotel rooms. Check out a few different dates if you can to get the best price.
- Pack a cooler with sandwiches and snacks and drinks. This saves you from needing to purchase them on the road. (And in the park there is not anywhere to purchase these items except at the lodges). Remember to keep everything in safe containers that are bear proof!
Have you visited a National Park recently? Comment below about your experience and where you went! Know a family with a 4th grader? I encourage you to share this with them, so they can get there kid in a park! These are such wonderful experiences for our children!
Until next time,
Ninja Mama A.K.A. Sarah