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Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

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posts: 15
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Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Hi All,

I am thinking that perhaps we (two adults and a beautiful baby girl) will fly into Visalia on October 9th and land at around 1:30. We're gong to Visalia really only to see the Giant Forest. From the airport I'm think ing I will rent a car and drive to the Giant Forest (about 90 mins). This means I get there between 4 and 5pm (I have to account some time for feeding the baby and picking up our luggage and all).

So is that too late? I plan to see General Sherman and the trails around it (see the leaning tree), the Giant Forest Museum, the tunnel log, and maybe a cave. I imagine little light gets through all those trees later on in the afternoon, but will it be too dark around that time?

I'm open to spending the night inside the park, at one of the lodges (no camping). Can anyone recommend a place? I'm also thinking of leaving the Giant Forest that evening and heading south to Anaheim, but I don't plan on getting there that night. I'll probably spend the night in Bakersfield or some other city along the way and do the rest the next morning.

Thanks for the input... we're still trying to sort out our many options.

posts: 15
reviews: 1
1. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

I cannot seem to edit my previous post...

Regarding my time in the Giant Forest... I don't see myself spending more than 10 minutes seeing General Sherman. Not that I'm not impressed with it, but how long can one look at a tree? So I guess my question is how long should I expect to spend in the Giant Forest (while visiting the attactions I posted above).

Also, regarding where I will go after the Giant Forest, I am considering driving back to Visalia and taking a plane to LAX the next day, is that a better/worse option than above?

Thanks again for reading!

San Diego...
posts: 8,784
reviews: 30
2. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

According to SunriseSunset.com, on October 9 the sunset time at Sequoia National Park is 6:28 pm with twilight at 6:54 pm. So you will still be able to see trees until almost 7 pm. That would give you 2 hours to explore the Giant Forest area. I happen to think the most beautiful times in any scenic area are early and late in the day, and most landscape photographers shoot at those times. You would not have time for the cave tour that day; you would have to do that the next morning.

I would not try to drive back down the mountain after dark as the road has over 100 curves. I would stay overnight in the park, and your choices are basically the Wuksachi Lodge or the Montecito Sequoia Lodge. There may be others but that's all I can think of. Further north are the John Muir Lodge and Grant Grove Cabins, but those would mean more driving to get to. If you were flying into Fresno instead of Visalia, you could enter the parks on Highway 180 instead, and see the Grant Grove instead of, or in addition to, the Giant Forest.

From Sequoia National Park to Los Angeles is about a 4-hour drive, unless you get stuck in Los Angeles rush hour traffic, which would make it longer. I think the flight on Great Lakes Airlines from Visalia to Los Angeles takes just under 1 hour for the flight itself, but then you also have to factor in the airport times. The Amtrak train is another possibility for getting to Los Angeles, but the station is in Hanford, not Visalia.

The weather is a variable factor, but typically early October is clear, dry and sunny in California with warm dry days and cool nights. We camped in Sequoia NP in October once and it was around 70 for the daytime high but got down to nearly 30 during the middle of the night. I think that's typical for that area in October. However if a very early winter-type storm arrives in California that could change everything. Last year a storm on October 6-7 dumped snow on the Sierra Nevada mountains and caused some roads to be closed for a day or two. However that was unusually early, and typically the first major winter-type storm doesn't arrive until late October or November.

Sequoia National...
posts: 463
3. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

I would allow a good 20-30 minutes round-trip to see General Sherman. To reach the tree you have to hike a short but steep 1/4 mile trail, and that does take some time to hike back up. If you are wanting to hike the Congress Trail, which begins at the base of General Sherman, plan on another 2 hours or so to do that trail. The Giant Forest Museum only takes 15-20 minutes to see, and Tunnel Log takes virtually minutes. For Crystal Cave, plan on about a 30 minute drive to reach the cave, then another 15 minutes or so to hike the small trail to the cave entrance. The basic tour is 45 minutes (make sure and pick up tickets at one of the visitor centers, as they are not sold at the cave itself). It would also be a good idea to check the Sequoia Natural History Association web site (http://www.sequoiahistory.org) for more information - I believe there are restrictions for baby carriers in the cave but I'm not positive.

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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4. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

I don't think you'll be able to see the cave. I think the last tour is at 4:30 or something like that.

But that's okay - the Crescent Meadow forest area is amazing and you should be able to get there.

Wuksachi Lodge is your best choice of a place to stay.

While you may only want to hang out by General Sherman for 10 minutes, the Congress Trail behind Sherman is an old growth redwood and I can spend hours there. The Round Meadow loop near the History Museum (across the street, well signed) is another short walk with lots of old redwoods nearby (especially if you don't get to Crescent Meadow).

But if you can do General Sherman and Log/Crescent Meadow loops by dusk, you'll have driven through and walked through some amazing redwood groves. Tunnel Log is on the way to the Log/Crescent Meadow area - a good place for sighting wildlife, sometimes, too.

So Cal
posts: 3,884
reviews: 63
5. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

This is a long, exhausting trek (especially with a baby) for only a few hours' visit. I would definitely not try to drive back down to Bakersfield that same night. Is there any reason you don't want a more immersive visit?

If nothing is available inside the park, you could try for a motel in Three Rivers, but as bw said, that's a steep twisty drive down in the dark. I'd try to avoid it.

posts: 15
reviews: 1
6. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Thanks for the great replies folks. We'll likely end up spending the evening at one of the lodges. Maybe we'll get one or two of the attractions done the day we get there, and a few others the next day.

posts: 15
reviews: 1
7. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Janazz, its not that I don't want an immersive visit, I am just trying to get an idea of how long seeing the sites will take. I have a baby daughter and never having been to the giant forest, I have no idea how much time I should expect to be there.

Wuchshatistaff (sorry for the spelling mistake), thanks for the times, that'll help lots.

So Cal
posts: 3,884
reviews: 63
8. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Sorry if I sounded snippy. It just seems like a lot of trouble for a short visit, when you could easily spend a week in Sequoia & Kings. Have you looked at the park website? www.nps.gov/seki Might be of some help.

posts: 15
reviews: 1
9. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Haha... Don't worry about it janzzz, it's all good. Not snippy at all. We're planning on hitting Anaheim for two days and then about 5 days in San Diego, so we can't stay in the great forest for too long. :D

posts: 15
reviews: 1
10. Re: Late afternoon in the Giant Forest

Ugh... This is stressing me out. Myself and my wife really like extraordinary/beautiful nature, but visiting the giant forest seems just too out of the way and will cost us about $1000 more. All for two nights in a forest... A beautiful and extraordinary one, granted, but its still a grand.

Since we're getting there late on october 9th, we figured we would stay two nights, keep in mind that we have a baby and we dont want days to be too rushed to account for unplanned feedings that go long or whatever, so we figured we'd stay the extra night. Flights (we would fly to fresno from toronto via lax, but that extra flight would cost us about 200, and flying back to lax is another 200) will be about 400, rental car from fresno is 250, lodging and meals will be about 300. We could drive from the giant forest, and save about 200, but then we would be paying more for the rental and the gas, plus with a baby we'll have to stop at least a few times or spend the night in some other city (our destination would be Anaheim btw).

Also, it being October, it will be cooler.

Anyhow, we're not really on a budget here, but I have to weigh what the cost of travelling into my decision... Right? We do plan on spending one day in Disneyland (2 nights in Anaheim), then heading down to san Diego for about 5 nights (we might hit catalina island on the way to sd from anaheim). We didn't commit to anything just yet, but I think we have a crude itinerary for the rest of the trip.

So with all that said, should we still be considering a trip to the giant forest? I'm hoping you folks say yes cause I do want to go, but for the sake of cost and not getting too bogged down with a busy schedule I'm also hoping you say no. In the end I know it's my decision. Thanks for continuing reading my rants about my trip, you folks are so helpful.