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Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

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Versailles...
posts: 3
reviews: 2
Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

Hello everyone!

I need your help. I have wanted to see the giant trees my entire life and am now finally in a position where I can plan the looong road trip from Kentucky to finally see them. I have been so excited until reading one sentence in a travel guide that referenced "softball sized spiders" on the roads and in the area. I'm not a hiker and don't intend on doing a lot of trail walking. But I at least want to be able to get out of my car! However, I am basically an arachnophobe (small spiders not that big of a deal out in the wild--giant tarantula type spiders are a whole other ball game.) As of last night, I declared that there was NO way I could go and am devastated. Any advice? Is this something that is really prevalent or is this a deep woods, random spotting situation? Desperately trying to find some hope to cling to that I can still see these most incredible trees.

Thank you so much in advance!

Gretchen

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
posts: 10,233
reviews: 87
1. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

In over 50 years of visiting Sequoia, I've never seen a softball sized spider in the park (and just once, on the road in the foothills, we saw one - from the car). And that was during a warm spell when we had to stop for construction, otherwise we would have driven right past it. They simply don't like hanging out in the places where people do (the picnic grounds in the foothills are fine - never have seen a large spider there, much less a tarantula).

There are absolutely no tarantulas at the altitude where the trees are.

We were very excited to see that one tarantula that one time, but I was glad to be in the car (even though I know they can't hurt me). We were down around 2000 feet at the time though - the trees start above 5000.

There are no big spiders (and frankly, have never even seen a small spider in the deep woods or in the woods near the road - and I love bugs). There are ants, and some interesting looking beetles.

So no worries.

Santa Ana, CA
posts: 2,476
reviews: 12
2. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

I've been there more than a dozen times and I've never seen any.

Monterey, California
posts: 1,042
reviews: 22
3. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

I've hiked the Giant Forest for 34 years and have never seen a spider bigger than an ant.

Like said above you "might" see a tarantula at lower levels but highly unlikey.

I've never seen one.

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
posts: 9,159
reviews: 76
4. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

Ive never seen a spider like that either. Don't worry.

Roseville...
posts: 1,102
reviews: 15
5. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

I've been in the big trees numerous times over 40 years and never have seen a softball size spider. In fact, i've seen very few spiders of any kind.

San Diego...
posts: 8,117
reviews: 29
6. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

As they said, nothing to worry about. The “softball size” spiders someone mentioned are probably some species of tarantula, a large spider. I think your chances of seeing one in Sequoia National Park are small. Tarantaulas are shy and docile and do not attack. A few people even keep tarantualas as pets. In the unlikely case that someone is bitten by one it’s mild, like a bee sting. But you are not likely to encounter one and even if you did they are easy to see and avoid. They may exist in Sequoia National Park, in fact this photo was taken in the park: http://bugguide.net/node/view/535113/bgimage

In the foothills and other lower-elevation areas of the park, rattlesnakes are sometimes seen, but again they are easy to avoid in the chance that you did see one. You probably won’t be in the foothills, you will be in the medium elevation areas of the park. Poison oak is another hazard in the foothills and lower elevations, though you probably won’t be walking around in those areas of the park, it would be good for you to learn how to identify the plant so as to avoid brushing against it. http://www.knoledge.org/oak/identify.html

Your visit will probably not include sightings of any of the above. Hopefully you will get to see a bear, as sightings of them seem to be pretty common, at least going by trip reports on this forum.

Sequoia National...
posts: 463
7. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

I agree with all of the above. I've worked for Sequoia since 2004 and have honestly never seen a tarantula in the park. I am scared to death of spiders myself, so trust me you have nothing to worry about :)

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
posts: 10,233
reviews: 87
8. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

There's no indication of the elevation of where that spider was seen (we saw ours near Hospital Rock). I'm still of the view that these spiders are no where near the big trees (the one in the picture is sitting on some granite...)

I suppose one piece of advice might be to avoid areas like Beetle Rock where there are definitely more bugs.

And rattlesnakes, while not the OP's concern, can appear at higher elevations when it's warm (but so rare as to be a topic of conversation for years to come - we've seen exactly one in 50 years in the upper part of the park).

This is a good time to remind people that the park is very large and the entry kiosk is at the lower elevation. There's no need to spend time in the lower elevations really, just go up top and enjoy your tarantula-free vacation!

Versailles...
posts: 3
reviews: 2
9. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

I can't thank everyone enough for your advice and encouragement! I was determined to try to make it anyway, but will certainly rest easier in the days leading up to my trip thanks to all of you. Once our journey gets closer (July 2013!) I'll probably be posting other (non-arachnid) questions, but for now, my biggest concern has been put to rest. Many, many thanks!

Vista, California...
posts: 1
reviews: 1
10. Re: Lifetime Dream to See Sequoias vs Lifelong Fear of Spiders

Gretchen, I was just up to the Seqouia's end of September. We saw deer, bears, birds, chipmunks, fish, marmott but NO spiders. Too cold for them this time of year. The male Tarantulas do a march in the fall before it gets too cold to seek out a mate. But I never saw one spider or Tarantula.

You really need to go on your trip. It is so beautiful.