Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

We found another beautiful spot with a view to die for in central California.  In the hills 10 miles outside of Sequoia National Park between the towns of Lemon Cove and Three Rivers is a Corp of Engineers campground called Horse Creek campground.  It sits on one side of the lake in a very beautiful valley that they dammed.  When we pulled in, the first question they asked us was if we wanted to be a campground host as they needed someone right now.

We thanked them but said we would take the host's site as it's only one of two that has full hook-ups.  We signed up for week stay and settled in.

It was sunny the day we arrived and was to continue that for one more day and then look out, here comes the rain.  We headed to the park the second day knowing the top of the park is over 7000' elevation and lots of snow was coming.  There was lots of snow at higher elevations but the roads were clear and off we went.

Quite a unique entrance sign for a National Park.  It was going to be a long trip through the park and we decided to go over the top through Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP and make full a circle to get back home.
First stop was an old section of the road that went under this large rock.  Not sure what the clearance was but not much.

At higher elevations we made it into the sequoia forest with some of the largest and oldest trees in the world.  Because of limited parking we could not stop and see the largest trees so will save that for next time.

What a grand day to traverse the park with the contrast between the red in the trees and the white on the ground.

We stopped and took some pictures for this family and then some for us.  We are now in Kings Canyon NP and about ready to head back down.

At Kings Canyon NP Visitors Center the snow was over the windows with a big opening that acted as a frame.  We saw the movie, toured the visitors center and headed back to the Jeep.  It was really cold up here and we only had light coats.  Not smart thinking or I guess we weren't thinking.

We made it back home traveling on roads that would put a European road race to shame.  We never saw so many twists and turns on one road before!  We were glad we left CC at home because she surely would have been carsick.

We stuck around home for a day or two because of the heavy rain and then found another day that cleared up so we could go back and try it again.  Except the road was closed 6 miles into the park because of snow and slides. We had planned to go for a hike, and lucky for us the hike we wanted started right where the road was closed.  

 This is about 3 miles of the creek (horse creek) from our campsite looking at the mountains and all the new snow.

In the Park we saw lots of signs of spring at the lower elevations with this tree in full bloom and the top of the mountain shrouded in clouds.

We parked the Jeep where the road closed and headed up a trail (Paradise Creek) that followed the river for about 2 miles.  It was cool but saw some spectacular scenery.  Two or three areas with water falls.

We looked and looked but did not see any critters until Jackie said "stop, that's the prettiest lizard I have ever seen".  What an eye she has.  Look closely as we added some arrows to this picture so you can locate what she found.

Dick quickly pulled out his camera and got a shot of it and then started to lean in a little more and got another, he kept getting closer and closer and closer...

One knee was in the mud and he was bracing himself with one hand on the wall to get as close as he could, like 4" away and the critter never moved.  I guess he thought if he stood still we wouldn't see him.  No long lens for this picture.

Heading back down the trail and then back home for a relaxing evening and then back to rain all night and it's still raining.

To be continued...


Debbie said...

The lizard is a good looking lizard! Love the photos of the trees and snow. Thanks for all the post cards. We love hearing about the adventures.

Nita said...

Great photos!! Beautiful campground. I love the COE parks. These two National Parks are going our list. Very beautiful. It's nice to just visit some snow for a day and then go home!

Mark said...

Love your pictures of the mountain scene and waterfall. You must be really enjoying yourselves with beauty like this around.