We originally planned to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks before visiting Yosemite. However, the COVID-19 shut down canceled our reservations in the parks. We considered visiting them after Yosemite. After doing some research though, we realized visiting them would add over 7 hours to our drive time.
Sequoia Trees – Tuolumne and Mariposa Groves
Our main motivation for visiting Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP is to see sequoia trees. Fortunately, Yosemite has three sequoia groves, something we didn’t realize before visiting. We visited Tuolumne Grove on the way back from our Glen Aulin backpacking trip. However, the Mariposa Grove, on the south end of the park, is the most impressive.
We visited the Mariposa Grove on our way out of the park. It is indeed much more impressive. The exhibit includes a new walkway and visitor center through the grove. However, the Grizzly Giant tree is the most impressive part of the whole thing. This giant sequoia is head and shoulders bigger than any other sequoia we saw. I think Sequoia National Park contains several trees this big, but it was probably just as good to see one.
Merced Elks Lodge
After leaving Mariposa Grove, we made the short drive to Oakhurst where we planned to stay at the Elks Lodge. Unfortunately, the Elks Lodge was a bit of a dump. We parked the RV, talked it over for a second, and kept moving. This is the first time we’ve done this, but it was justified.
We weren’t sure where we’d end up, but we landed at the Merced Elks Lodge. This park is in the middle of nowhere, but everything is brand new at least. This isn’t a great destination, but it was a perfect place to catch up on laundry, and the internet worked great. Merced also really made us appreciate the mountains we just left. While staying at the park, we watched a movie recommended to us in Yosemite, The Dawn Wall. We normally don’t enjoy the same types of movies, but we both enjoyed this one. We sweated through a couple of days before beginning our journey to Tahoe.
Crystal Basin Cellars Harvest Host
We broke up the drive to Tahoe by stopping at a Harvest Host, Crystal Basin Cellars. This winery is a convenient stop on the way into the mountains. They offered a tasting, which is rare in the time of COVID-19. We really enjoyed the wines too. After the tasting, we walked down the hill a short ways to the Highway 50 Brewery for an IPA and a pizza. The traffic noise isn’t great at this stop, but everything else is nice. We finished up our trip with a short drive to Lake Tahoe for Fourth of July weekend.