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One and a half days - how best to manage time

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posts: 244
reviews: 3
One and a half days - how best to manage time

Hello, just planning stages right now, but if we do this it will be the week of Oct 7th. I think we will have 5 days for this road trip. Right now planning Sequioa and Kings Canyon along with Yosemite. We will be leaving from Anaheim supposedly on the morning of the 7th, driving first to Sequoia through the Three Rivers entrance. Thinking maybe we could do the road to Mineral King, then do the road to Lodgepole Village. Right now Montecito Sequioa Lodge is available, so thought we could stay there one night. The next day do the road to Grant Grove, then on to Cedar Grove. Thinking after that driving to Fresno and spending the night before heading to Yosemite. Since we are just now starting to plan this I don't really know where anything is and how much time this would take. Would like advice from someone who has done this! We could do short hikes. Mostly interested in scenery. Thank you!

Monterey, California
posts: 1,055
reviews: 22
1. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

You're trying to do to much in 1 1/2 days.

The road to MIneral King (under 30 miles) can take over 90 minutes with at least 500 turns/switchbacks and narrow partial dirt.

I would stay @ Wuksachi and spend most of your time in the Giant Forest.

The road from Sequoia to Grant Grove and into King's Canyon and back up and out down to Fresno is not a day trip either in my opinion.

It's mountainous and gorgeous but your hands will be numb from gripping the steering wheel all day.

Better to relax in one spot in the park especially if you are also planning on going to Yosemite.

Edited: 7:56 pm, August 26, 2013
Monterey, California
posts: 1,055
reviews: 22
2. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

Map link.......

Elevations from 0 to almost 9000 if you try to do Mineral King


So Cal
posts: 3,484
reviews: 64
3. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

Ditto the suggestion to skip Mineral King. AFAIK it's best for hard-core hikers, but you won't have any time to hike. And that little side-trip would also mean you wouldn't have time to see the Giant Forest.

Montecito-Sequoia is probably fine (especially if it's cheaper than Wuksachi) - I've only stayed at Grant Grove and driven to Lodgepole/Giant Forest from there.

I've also gone down into Kings Canyon as a day trip, but of the two main areas, though, I would spend the whole day in the sequoias, given that you're going on to Yosemite right afterwards. I guess it depends on what you enjoy. What do you envision when you say you'll "do" this and that road?

posts: 244
reviews: 3
4. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

This is why I like to ask on TA before I make definite plans. I think my aunt also wants to see Crystal Cave. Is it possible to do the cave in our half day. i know the cave takes awhile. If we could spend just a couple of hours at the big trees and see the canyon in our whole day. And leave off Mineral King. Is that doable?

Monterey, California
posts: 1,055
reviews: 22
5. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

You can buy your tickets for the cave at the visitors center before you head up to the Giant Forest.

That will take up half of your day.

Then I would go to Crescent Meadow to hike around the Forest awhile before heading to your "lodging".

If you start early you could enjoy the drive to Grant Grove and 30 miles down into the Canyon which dead ends and you have to return up to Grant Grove to exit the park and down to Fresno in about an hour.

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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6. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

The various places where there are Big Trees are each worth seeing.

Inside SNP, besides big trees, there's also Moro Rock and Lodgepole Canyon. But, as to Big Trees, you need to get to Crescent Meadow, walk Log Meadow, and then walk part of the Congress Trail (near General Sherman). Driving past the big trees isn't the same as being out among them.

Montecito Sequoia is liked by some. People who expect a great camp experience for medium sized kids seem to like it less. It's a place to stay and in SNP/KCNP, that's saying something.

Anyway, you will arrive Sequoia's History Center/Crossroads to Crescent Meadow & Moro Rock around 2-3 pm if you leave Anaheim by 6-7 a.m. More or less.

You have a choice to make. Drive directly to Lodgepole and get tickets for Crystal Cave (no tickets are sold at Crystal Cave, it's a 45 minute drive to the Cave from the road - and it's 30 minutes from the turn-off to the place you buy tickets.)

So you either head out to Crescent Meadow/Moro Rock and the late afternoon light and thrills of seeing wildlife or you drive through the Giant Forest to Lodgepole and get your tickets for the *next day* at Crystal Cave. Then you drive to General Sherman Tree (arriving there by around 4 pm if all goes well) and walk part of the Congress Trail. Dinner? Back to Lodgepole - stick your feet in the creek, admire this canyon (which to me is as gorgeous as Kings Canyon - and Kings Canyon is gorgeous too). Or eat at Wuksachi (takes longer). Maybe hike up over the rocks next to the Tokopah Trailhead (just past Lodgepole Bridge inside the campground). Your chance to walk on a big granite dome that is...right near your car.

But you won't have see the Auto Log or the amazing sights along the road to Crescent Meadow. Some of the oldest trees in the world. Walking around the meadow (1 hour) is a must. You can do it in the late afternoon (you could eat dinner afterwards, actually, if you have snacks).

This is still that day you left Anaheim.

Then...drive to Montecito Sequoia (1 hour or so from Crescent Meadow). You'll could also eat there. But check with them, because it could be 8-9 pm before you get there, if you walked and looked at things.

The evening could be very interesting, full of stars...and perhaps bears.

In the morning, breakfast at Montecito Sequoia then drive 1.5 hours back to Crystal Cave (perhaps a little longer). Do Crystal cave (skip Round Meadow, Sunset Trail and other roadside attractions). Allow 30 minutes to walk down to the cave from the parking lot, an hour for the tour and 40 minutes to walk back up unless you're in really good shape. So, if you got reservations at 9 am at Crystal Cave, you left Montecito Sequoia at 7:30 a.m. and hopefully made it to your tour. (It's worth it - but 10 a.m. would be more merciful). If 10 a.m. tour, you'll be back on the road at noon (lunch at Lodgepole? Wuksachi? Picnic stuff from Lodgepole? There's a picnic ground across the General's Highway from Lodgepole).

If you purchased picnic stuff purchased day before on your route up from Anaheim (or, conveniently, right next to where you buy the Crystal Cave tickets, which is what I would do), then go from Crystal Cave to Crescent Meadow for the best picnic of your life (depending on when you're traveling, you might have to take a shuttle from History Center/Beetle Rock). You'll also see some more amazing trees up close and personal, and a tree that fell over suddenly years ago (to your left as you drive to Crescent Meadow, 3000 years old when it died - dates from 1000BCE or so - maybe a little younger).

So, you'd be heading off to Kings Canyon around 3-4 pm (unless you skip Crescent Meadow which to me, is a must-see although if you're going in November, that could make a difference). You'll get to Road's End at around 5-6 if you don't stop at Lost Grove or any of the overlooks or Grants Grove.

But, you will have already seen Big Trees, so you might want to push on to see...river and canyon from below (when are you going? King's Canyon is much more amazing when the rivers are running than in...October, sorry to say). The drive into the Canyon is unforgettable. There's no place else quite like it. Then, it turns into a forested road along a beautiful, rushing river till Road's End.

Back to park exit without stopping - about 1.5 hours. If you did Crystal Cave at 9 a.m., then I'm thinking you might be leaving the park for the 4 hour drive to Yosemite around 7 pm (again, have picnic supplies or plan for dinner; not sure I advise driving in the dark and eating sandwiches at the same time).

The awful problem of this itinerary if you are actually staying inside Yosemite Valley (are you? When is the trip) is that you will miss entering Yosemite during daylight!!!

So...stay outside of Yosemite that night.

posts: 244
reviews: 3
7. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

LarryJohn, thank you for the map link. That helped me put in perspective where everything is. Waksachi, would be a lot more central location, but is way out of our budget.

LeBiscuit, thank you for the detailed itinerary. I guess we don't have to drive to Cedar Grove as long as we can see a canyon.

I think I have read that you can not see Mount Whitney from any of these view points. Is that correct?

We are going the 2nd week of October. I've been researching lodging and finding that most places are full. This late planning couldn't be helped.

So Cal
posts: 3,484
reviews: 64
8. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

Mt Whitney is not visible from the western side of the park (where you'll be) without taking a very, very long hike. So no. However, if the air is clear and you go up Moro Rock, you get a nice view of the Great Western Divide.

9. Re: One and a half days - how best to manage time

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