2 Free Days to See California's Sequoia National Park this Fall


Designed to serve as the starting point for visits to the grove, the Giant Forest Museum (shown in photo) provides visitors the story of the giant sequoias and Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park.

For those on a budget, there are free days to visit two side-by-side national parks, Sequoia National Park (NP) and King's Canyon NP. On September 25th - National Public Lands Day you can drive past the entrance guard gate free, and on November 11th - Veterans Day tourists also get free admission, as they do at other national parks in California such as Yosemite.

Why see Sequoia NP? Now is an ideal time to visit before the winter snowfalls make the roads more difficult to navigate. The trails and are their peak for hikes, and the weather is some of the finest all year because the snow has mostly melted. Established 120 years ago in 1890, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon have been jointly administered since 1943. The two natural regions comprise over 1,300 square miles of mountains, valley and lakes, and they contain the largest tree in the world, and the nation's Christmas Tree.

There are 14 campgrounds, 842.4 miles of trails, and 265 caves. Through Sept. 25, 2010 and each summer guests can take the 1 1?2-hour Historic Candle-Light Cave Tours of Crystal Cave. If these parks weren't filled with giant Sequoia redwood trees, they would still be a national treasure for the limestone caves along.

But the trees in the park are definitely a must-see. If you restrict your definition to single-trunked trees, then the General Sherman sequoia tree in Giant Forest holds the title as the largest living specimen on earth! And General Grant Tree is the only living thing designated by Congress as a national shrine. This sequoia is a living memorial to the men and women of the United States who have given their lives in service to their country. More information: nps.gov.

Getting the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: Two highways provide access to the parks. Highway 180 enters Kings Canyon National Park from the northwest via Fresno, and Highway 198 enters Sequoia National Park from the southwest via Three Rivers, not far from Visalia. While the parks are open all year, some roads can be inaccessible by car because of snow November through May.

Admission: Single entry pass is around $10 (subject to change)

Where to stay: Wuksachi Lodge has nice accommodations inside the park all year long.

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