This week we rounded out our trip to four western US national parks with a visit to Sequoia. This part of the trip was a little crazy because we had to drive about 500 miles in one day to go from Zion Park in southern Utah to the little California town of Lemon Cove just outside of Sequoia, but I am so glad we did. Nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the groves of Sequoia trees lack the sheer geologic drama of Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyons, but these majestic trees convey a sense of timelessness that is hard to put into words.
I learned at the visitor’s center that these giant trees only grow in 75 locations in the high Sierras and all are at elevations between 5,000 and 7,500 feet above see level. The oldest are believed to be 3,000 years old; they were already giants when the Magna Carta was written. While they are perfectly adapted to the rare ecological niche they occupy, they have no capacity to live outside of it.
Standing next to them, I reminded myself that the Sequoia trees were just plants; admittedly very big, very old plants. Despite efforts to hang on to scientific objectivity, it kept slipping away; they are truly awe inspiring.
Getting to Sequoia Park is inconvenient; it is not really on the way to anyplace else. The lodge we stayed at seemed designed with user unfriendliness in mind; let me add that the park’s road system is under reconstruction with regular long delays. Yet walking among these giant ancient trees is likely to be one of the most memorable parts of this trip out west.