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Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

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Mullica Hill, New...
posts: 6
reviews: 70
Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

We are in the early stages of planning our August 2014 vacation. We will be in the Santa Barbara/Simi Valley area and then plan to head to Yosemite but would like to spend some time in Kings Canyon & Sequoia. Any advice on travel between is appreciated. Can the trip be made in one day? Are there any "must see" attractions in between?

Thank you,

Rob

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 7,470
reviews: 360
1. Re: Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

"The Santa Barbara/Simi Valley" area is a new one to me. They're close to 100 miles apart. http://goo.gl/maps/CiuuD Do you perhaps mean the Santa Ynez Valley? Advice "on travel between" which of these spots? Can the entire trip be done in one day? Sure, but it would be a long day, http://goo.gl/maps/wF0A0 If you're going from SB to Sequoia/KC and on to Yosemite in one day, I wouldn't worry about what to see in between, just what to see at each park.

Do you have lodging reservations at Yosemite? How much time to you have in Yosemite? You can see from the map that you'd have to make a detour to Sequoia/KC. Can be worthwhile if you have the time, including an overnight. For the time required, however, I'd rather take Highway 395 than Highway 99 http://goo.gl/maps/5uIKL The scenery along 395 is great, and far different from the other parts of California you might see. Google Maps says a bit over 8 hours, but, like for the other route, I'd take at least two days (one overnight). You'd miss Sequoia/KC (you can see Sierra Redwoods in Yosemite, albeit not quite the same as in Seq/KC), but IMHO would make up for it in better scenery overall during the drive. Of course, if you already have plans to see Tioga Pass area, there could be less incentive.

August can be very hot along much of the route. Not conducive to stops along the way except for gas and food. Ideally I'd spend the first night, at least, in Sequoia/KC, then drive to Yosemite

Edited: 2:48 pm, September 01, 2013
Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
posts: 10,260
reviews: 87
2. Re: Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

No must-see attractions in between (and makes rather a difference in travel whether you are in SB or Simi Valley), if you are interested in the most direct route.

After conferring with DE's on the Central California forums, we have decided that, for us, going up north of SB via the 101 to the 198, and then over to Three Rivers and up the mountain to Sequoia...is the best route.

BUT, the route we have been taking for years is the 5 to the 99 to either the 198 or the 65. 5>99>65 is the fastest, I believe (as fast as 4 hours from the Castaic Junction). Getting to the 5 is different from SB than from Simi Valley. From Simi, simply take the 118 over to the 5 and head north.

From SB, to get to the 5, head south to the 126, which is a freeway for about 12 miles, then becomes a 4 lane road with good markings. It joins the 5 at Castaic. Head north on the 5, obviously. SB to Castaic is about 1.5 hours. So, Sequoia via this route is about 5.5 hours or a little more.

The reason we're giving up on the 5 is similar to the reason stated by some other longterm posters here. It's simply a mass of big rigs and, these days, some pretty major construction through the Grapevine/Gorman area. It's not intolerable, I guess, if you only do it once or once in awhile. The last time we did it, though, we decided that the shenanigans of people from the Northern LA area up to the junction of the 99 were ruining our vacation! I guess we have totally lost patience with the mix of traffic that takes that road through the very hilly Grapevine area.

So, if you are in SB, do consider taking the 101 northbound as described above, as it will be shorter for you and may save your sanity. It's two lane roads with passing lanes once you're off the 101. If you are in Simi Valley, you should probably bite the bullet and take the 5.

Some people prefer the 180 as the route into the parks (we don't). The drive up the 198 is winding but not scary and the road has undergone a lot of recent work (now finished). It is the classic way to enter the parks and gives you the view of Moro Rock from below (awesome).

You can easily get to SNP/KCNP from either place in one day and still have daylight for sightseeing. We leave around 9 am to avoid morning rush hour and last time (taking the 5) we got from north LA area to the trees in a little under 5 hours (gas stop in Porterville in our gas, included; there's no gas in the park itself, although Stoney Creek Lodge in the National Forest in between SNP and KCNP did have gas).

We managed to get there, in short, in time for a very nice picnic.

I cannot tell if you mean to go on to Yosemite in the same day, but no, I wouldn't say that's particularly doable - from the SNP entrance onward to Yosemite is another 5 hours. That's 10 hours of driving (if traffic is good). Too much for most people - and no time to see SNP. Driving out to Yosemite in the dark is not something I'd advise.

Edited: 2:52 pm, September 01, 2013
Mullica Hill, New...
posts: 6
reviews: 70
3. Re: Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

Thank you both for the prompt reply. Our plans are not definite just yet. We are travelling south along the coast into Santa Barbara. We would like to go as far south to see the Reagan Library in Simi Valley but that's as far south as we want to travel this trip. We will save LA for another trip. So, I am referring to Santa Barbara & Simi Valley as one area but not exactly sure where we will stay.

Our plan is to spend one night in SNP/KCNP and then travel up into Yosemite. We don't yet have reservations on where to stay at either SNP/KCNP or Yosemite. I'm hoping to list what we want to see and then adjust which nights we need to stay and where.

The directions provided will be a big help. Thank you again.

Rob

4. Re: Travel from Santa Barbara area to Sequoia & Kings Canyon

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