Sequoia National Park - 2017, January 1-2

Adam and I decided pretty early on that we preferred to receive gifts that were experiences rather than things. And this Christmas was no exception.  When we opened our gifts we realized we really were two peas in a pod when we both got each other gifts to visit a National Park!  Adam's gift to me will be in May to Yellowstone National Park.  His gift from me was a trip to Sequoia National Park for New Year's Day.

I put together a little fun fact sheet for him:

Coupled with this Osprey Backpack and snow cleats (which btw, are amazing! Definitely recommend them for easy to medium hikes in the snow/ice). We got off to a late start since we were out late for New Year's Eve and got side tracked on the road at the outlets.  But finally made it to the park around 3pm.  We didn't have much time before sunset, so we headed straight to the Giant Forest Museum.

(Image courtesy of

It was fun and interactive and a good way to learn the story of the giant sequoias and Giant Forest.  Just outside of the museum is The Sentinel, which is the 42nd largest Sequoia in the world:

The Sentinel is an "average" sized tree, but is still about 27,900 cubic feet (790 m³) in volume.

We wandered off a bit and caught one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen in my life: really photos do not do it any justice:

Then we headed back to our hotel room.  We love to camp, but we definitely recommend renting a hotel room if you plan to travel in the winter.  We are slowly acquiring "real" camping gear, but we aren't quite equipped for winter camping yet.  We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Three Rivers.  Without traffic it's about a 15 min drive to the park entrance; it takes about 1-1.5 hours to get to the Giant Forest from the hotel.  Our stay was very affordable (under $100/night), our room was clean, and it included a pretty delicious continental breakfast (we are suckers for make your own Belgian waffle). As someone who used to be pretty picky about hotels, I am finding that inns are very comparable and much more affordable.

The next day we headed back to the park and went straight to the Giant Forest. But not without stopping at some of the numerous photo-op areas (they have signs with cameras that let you know when there is a scenic overlook coming up):

On a side note, Adam and I have become pretty good bargain shoppers.  Adam is wearing one of the layers from his Northface Thermoball Triclimate Jacket which we both bought at the outlet; Adam got his for $110 and I got mine for $90 (I'm wearing mine in the photos where I have a white jacket on).  I'm wearing the Patagonia Better Sweater fleece jacket that I got at the REI Garage sale for $70.  We're both wearing duck boots.  I got mine at Target on sale for $22.  I was really impressed that they kept my feet warm and dry as we hiked through snow, which was sometimes knee high.  We're learning that it's pretty easy to get affordable, quality winter gear, you just have to be willing drive to the outlets or wake up early for sales. :)

Anyway, we headed straight to the Giant Forest, where we found a cool photo op with a fallen sequoia:

We also learned more about General Sherman, which by volume, it is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth.  It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base.  General Sherman is over 2,200 years old.

Our DSLR lenses weren't wide enough to capture the entire tree unless we were very far away from the tree, so we had to take a pano photo on our iPhone to fit the entire tree.  We didn't even know you could take a pano photo vertically until we saw another group doing it on their iPhones:

Unfortunately, many parts of the park are closed in the winter.  But we were able to to do an easy hike through the snow via The Congress Trail.  I will say that there is something extra enchanting about the sequoia groves in the winter, and definitely recommend exploring in the winter even if some of the main trails are closed.  I'll leave you with photos along our trail:


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