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General Sherman and more

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Tucson, Arizona
posts: 4
reviews: 2
General Sherman and more

I'm trying to organize a family reunion and am having a hard time. The particulars:

-- Four families (7 adults; 5 kids ages 8-13)

-- Traveling to CA from AZ, NJ, and FL.

-- The only absolute is that one of our party REALLY wants to see the General Sherman tree.

-- This could be the only time the NJ and FL kids make it to CA.

-- I want to keep costs down, so don't want to ask the east coast families to fly into a small airport like Fresno. Even for my family, flying from Tucson, Fresno and Reno are prohibitively expensive.

My questions:

-- Which major airport would be better (LA or SF)? I know it's a long drive from either, but would one drive be much better than the other?

-- Would it make sense to spend a day on either end of the trip, doing touristy things, in the city we fly into?

-- Are there scenic or interesting places on the way to Sequoia/Kings Canyon from either city that we might want to stop and spend the night, or spend a little more time?

Any and all guidance is much appreciated!

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
posts: 5,408
reviews: 22
1. Re: General Sherman and more

So, you are going to take your entire family to Sequoia National Park because one person wants to see the General Sherman Tree? And it's the only time in their lives that these kids will visit California? Whatever?

The General Sherman tree is just about the same distance from SFO as from LAX. You can use google maps to show you the route and estimated driving time. There really isn't that much to see along the way so the best advice is to just drive as fast as you can to Sequoia National Park and then spend as much time there as you can. It's really a very beautiful place. We spent a week there a couple of years ago and can't wait to go back.

So Cal
posts: 3,718
reviews: 63
2. Re: General Sherman and more

I hope the rest of your family can enjoy this! That one tree isn't the only thing to see in SeKi by any means, but outside of the two parks, it's kinda boring. No, there's nothing of interest to tourists between LA and SeKi - just drive it in one go. I don't know about the route from SF.

Have you read up on other things in SeKi? If not, see the official website www.nps.gov/seki There are many hikes, a couple waterfalls (depending on time of year and rainfall), a gorgeous drive in the canyon, cave systems to tour, bears to see, etc. Outside of the parks in the central valley there's basically farmland and more farmland.

How long do you plan to stay?

It can be difficult to move a group that size around - it's a lot easier to just set down in one place. But if this one place is of interest to only one person...Perhaps that one person might consider making his/her own side trip for a few nights?

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
posts: 10,284
reviews: 87
3. Re: General Sherman and more

Equal distance from both places, same boring drive down the middle of California, I guess you'd have the advantage of entering and exiting through the less winding (and less scenic) road from SF, but if you want the thrill of seeing the Guardians (a picture of which I believe is on TA's info page for Sequoia National Park), come up from L.A. and go through Three Rivers. Consider staying Wuksachi Lodge.

There's plenty more to do and see in Sequoia than General Sherman. There's virtually nothing to see or do on the way from either SF or Los Angeles to the park, unless you take major side trips (like Yosemite!)

It's a great place for a family reunion if you can afford accommodations within the parks (there are cabins in Kings Canyon, for example).

When are you planning to arrive? Is camping a possibility? Will you be renting a 10 passenger van or an RV? There are restrictions on length for RV's, so just asking how you planned to locomote.

Tucson, Arizona
posts: 4
reviews: 2
4. Re: General Sherman and more

To clear this up: No one in our group is put off by the General Sherman request, which was made by our youngest member (my 8-year-old daughter). It's just a starting point ... every trip has to start somewhere, right? I was only trying to say that this is a piece we need to fit into the puzzle. And of course my nieces and nephews might return to CA someday, but they live very far away and their families don't have the wherewithal to do a great number of cross-country trips. So I'd like to show them some beautiful places and have some fun!

To answer the other questions posed: The trip is Saturday, 8/3 through Saturday, 8/10. The Saturdays are travel days, so the trip is really Sunday through Friday. We're not camping, and we typically rent a couple of minivans.

I am considering the Yosemite side trip but don't want to count on it; I know it can be crowded to the point of roads being closed, so that's why I am focusing on the other two parks.

Thanks for the driving information; that's exactly what I needed to know!

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,289
reviews: 374
5. Re: General Sherman and more

Here's the trip report that I wrote following our visit to Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite, plus some time in San Francisco:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28926-i29-k565195…

This might give you some ideas for things to see and do in Sequoia.

Tucson, Arizona
posts: 4
reviews: 2
6. Re: General Sherman and more

OhioHick, this is INCREDIBLY helpful. Thank you!

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 7,839
reviews: 379
7. Re: General Sherman and more

When are you going?

I'd not just automatically assume you need to fly into SFO or LAX to save on airfares. At least look at fares into FAT (Fresno), SMF (Sacramento-- served by Southwest), BUR (Burbank), SJC (San Jose), OAK (Oakland) and even RNO (Reno). In planning our own trip, from overseas, I was surprised that on United (though not some others), it cost more to fly into LAX than Ontario or Burbank. And, on Southwest, for one domestic leg, flying into SFO cost more than into Oakland. Flying into the larger airports can increase your chances of finding non-stop flights, but not necessarily saving money.

To me, Yosemite is far more scenic, especially if you're not backpacking, than Sequoia/Kings Canyon (two parks administered together), and it does have Sierra Redwoods (Giant Sequoias), in the Mariposa Grove. Not the Gen., Sherman Tree, so if seeing what you know is the biggest tree is important, Sequoia/Kings Canyon it is, but when you're way down on the ground, I don't know you'd notice the difference. If you also want to see the very highest tree, it's a Coastal Redwood in or near Redwoods National Park. California also has the oldest tree, a Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains just east of Big Pine (to the east of Sequoia Natl. Park).

Edited: 4:15 pm, April 12, 2013
Fortaleza, CE
posts: 7,839
reviews: 379
8. Re: General Sherman and more

p.s. if you want to stay IN Yosemite, getting accommodations could be a huge obstacle. May find something near the park. Less sure about lodging inside Sequoia or Kings Canyon. August is a peak season, so book asap.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 41,428
reviews: 75
9. Re: General Sherman and more

A cabin rental for 12 people inside the Yosemite National Park gates isn't really that hard to find. I'd start with that, then plan the rest of the trip based on availability of the cabin. I think Wawona is very family friendly with a swimmable river, a county library, small hikes, and the Pioneer History Center. But Yosemite West would probably offer cooler temperatures and Foresta is the closest to Yosemite Valley & Tuolumne Meadows. Pop over to the Yosemite forum for more details.

Or just focus on SEKI and all that is available. Lots of great options!

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,289
reviews: 374
10. Re: General Sherman and more

You're welcome, 129AmyC. I'm glad that you found my TR to be useful.