We left San Simeon after a delay with breakfast. The Morgan didn’t serve their continental breakfast until 7:30 this morning. Yesterday morning, it was served at 7 a.m. Upon yesterday’s check in, the desk clerk said breakfast was at 7. I guess this doesn’t apply to weekends? I was quite sorry that the Best Western Cavalier was filled for our stay here, as the Morgan was a disappointing hotel.
We had an uneventful drive to our next stop, Sequoia National Park. The road was quite good, and we used Rts. 46, 41, and 180. I felt we made very good time, as there was not much traffic, and the passing lanes were a big plus. We arrived at the gate of Kings Canyon around 1 p.m. and had a picnic lunch at the visitor’s center.
After lunch, we visited the General Grant tree. The sizes of these trees must be seen to be believed. Interesting to note that the trees in these parks are typically larger in volume than others. The coastal Redwoods are actually taller. After a brief walk in Grant Grove, we headed toward Wuksachi Lodge.
Rt. 180 is quite windy, so I can’t imagine what Rt 198 must be like! Everyone told us to avoid 198 due to all the switchbacks and construction. Our daughter, who is prone to motion sickness, began to feel a little queasy. We arrived at the Wuksachi around 3:30. Our room was not ready until 4:30 (check in is at 4). Based on the reviews, I was not expecting much, but we were so pleasantly surprised! The room was quite nice with a great rustic ambiance. The beds were very comfortable, and the room was certainly our style. The Wi-Fi and TV reception were much better than imagined. So far, this was our favorite hotel of the trip.
Also, please note that many complain about getting the luggage to the room. It’s NOT that bad! As long as you use the luggage carts provided and request a room with no steps (ground floor actually has steps down), you will be fine. Although they told me they could not guarantee a room with no steps, our request was honored at the front desk. The clerk was quite nice and did offer luggage assistance if needed. You can get out of breath easily in the park due to the elevation, so just take things slowly. Hubby and I did the luggage together, and having a room with steps would have been admittedly much tougher.
For meals, the best option is truly the Wuksachi Lodge dining room. We thought we would just have burgers there, but we were not impressed with those options at all. The snack bar food at Lodgepole really didn’t look very appetizing, so we wound up at the lodge. Fortunately, we had not made reservations, but we lucked out with an immediate seating on a Saturday night. The food was truly outstanding, plus we were starving! The vegetarian penne pasta was wonderful and was one of the best meals of the trip. I made a reservation for the next night on the way out!
We took advantage of being inside the park that evening and drove out to Tunnel Log, which we drove through easily. The crowd was non-existent. We saw a bear cub near the log and many deer, including a buck. We headed back to our room just before dark.
After a good night’s sleep, we headed to Lodgepole Visitor’s Center around 9 a.m. to buy our Crystal Cave tickets. They still had plenty for the day, and we purchased ones for 11 a.m., as this was the lightest tour of the morning. Although we had a little time to kill, this was a great choice, as we benefitted from a small tour group.
The road to Crystal Cave is 8 miles long and quite windy. We did arrive for the tour early but just spent the time relaxing. The ½ mile hike down to the cave was actually quite pleasant and included some “bonus” waterfalls. I was very surprised by the negative reviews I have seen for the cave, as we found the tour quite enjoyable. It’s not as impressive as some larger caves, but we really enjoy cave touring, so it was well worth it for us. Crystal Cave was actually discovered by 2 park rangers in the early 1900’s and is limestone that has turned into marble. The ½ mile hike going back out is more challenging than doing down, but still manageable.
After the tour, we ate lunch in the car and headed to the Giant Forest Museum which could actually be skipped. We then visited the General Sherman tree trail, which was amazing. The trail was a bit steep coming back out, but seeing the largest in the world by volume made it all worthwhile. We saw additional bears here.
Tonight, we had an early dinner at Wuksachi, which again, was quite good. Service seemed much slower than the previous night, but food was still excellent. This time, I tried the meatloaf.
After dinner, we drove to Crescent Meadow and hiked to Tharp’s Log. Tharp created a cabin inside of a Sequoia tree. This cabin had a fireplace, windows, benches, etc. Make sure to have bug spray for this area of the park, as there were many mosquitoes.
To be continued in the Yosemite forum....