Tulare County Offers Plenty of Outdoor Adventures
Did you know Tulare County is home to two National Parks, two National Forests, the Giant Sequoia National Monument and two federally recognized wilderness areas? Come say hello to the great outdoors! Come play and have an adventure!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks enjoy worldwide reputations for unforgettable scenic vistas - but have you heard about the Giant Sequoia National Monument, home to roughly half the Sequoia Groves sprinkled throughout the Sierras? What about Tulare County's own park in the woods: Balch Park, home to some of the biggest Giant Sequoias to be found anywhere? Balch offers great fishing, camping and hiking, and because it is a hidden jewel tucked up into the Giant Sequoia National Monument, relatively few people have ever been there.
Getting there, where to go and what to see:
Take the Sequoia Shuttle! Enjoying Sequoia National Park has never been easier! Leave your car behind, relax and enjoy the beauty of Visalia and the California foothills as you gently weave through the mountains and find yourself amidst the popular destinations throughout Sequoia National Park, including: Giant Forest Museum, General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock, Lodgepole Visitor Center and Campground, Crescent Meadow, Wuksachi Lodge, Dorst Creek and the many more trails, lakes and natural wonders for only $15 roundtrip. Don't waste time fighting traffic congestion, looking for parking, or paying park entry fees.
The Sequoia Shuttle services operate daily, between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Each shuttle features 16 comfortable seats, luggage racks, 2 bike racks, and is wheelchair accessible. Spend less than popcorn and a movie, but enjoy a full day's experience in pristine Sequoia National Park, and a lifetime full of memories.
Complementary in-Park shuttle routes are free to Park visitors. Fare for the external shuttle is $15 per person and reservations are required. There are many pick-up locations throughout Visalia in addition to shuttle stops in Exeter and Three Rivers on the way to the park. For route and schedule information, call (877) BUS-HIKE (287-4453), or visit wwww.sequoiashuttle.com
Majestic, towering forests in Sequoia National Park will have definitely have visitors looking skyward at the big trees, but don't forget to look down, too. One of 270 caves hidden throughout the park, Crystal Cave offers visitors a remarkable peak beneath the surface of the Sierras. Formed of marble, Crystal Cave in California’s Sequoia National Park is decorated with curtains of icicle-like stalactites and mounds of stalagmites. To reach it, you must drive to the end of the twisting, seven-mile road heading west from the General’s Highway, two miles south of the Moro Rock turnoff. Trailers, RVs and buses are prohibited because of the road's narrowness. Then, from the parking area, it is a 15-minute hike down a steep path to the cave entrance.
Crystal Cave can be toured in summer only. The Sequoia Natural History Association offers 45-minute guided tours daily every half hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. from mid-June to early September. Cave temperature is a constant 48 degrees so a jacket or sweater is recommended. Call (559) 565-3759 for information or visit: www.sequoiahistory.org
Visiting Sequoia National Park is an unforgettable experience, but once you are there, even greater adventure lies just up the road: Kings Canyon National Park offers roaring rivers and canyons to explore and even more natural wonders to experience.
Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The General Grant Grove section preserves several groves of giant sequoia including the famous General Grant Tree, the second largest tree in the world. This park section is mostly mixed conifer forest, and readily accessible via paved highways.
The remainder of Kings Canyon National Park, roughly 90% of the park's total area, is located east of General Grant Grove and forms the headwaters of the South and Middle Forks of the Kings River and the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Both the South and Middle Forks of the Kings Rivers have extensive glacial canyons. One portion of the South Fork canyon, known as the Kings Canyon, gives the entire park its name. Kings Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the United States.
The Sequoia National Forest, located in southeastern Tulare County, offers many spectacular outdoor experiences, including the incomparable Trail of 100 Giants, a mile-long fully accessible interpretive trail. A short drive from up Highway 190 through the historic community of Springville leads to many outdoor opportunities. Follow your instincts into either the Sierra National Forest or Balch Park. Either choice offers great adventure.
Balch Park is the gateway to beautiful meadows, crater lakes and a wonderful wilderness experience. The 160-acre park has two small stocked ponds and 71-campsites. The campground is one of the most developed in the area - with paved roads, RV spaces, and its own museum. Check out the Balch Park "360-degree" virtual tours of our grandest county park at www.tularecountyemap.com
Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks bring thousands of tourists to our area each year. But neither of these spectacular parks draw anywhere near the crowds Yosemite does. What does that mean for you and your family? All the big trees and comparatively few folks to share them with!
Come Play in Tulare County! Have an adventure!
Vacation planning information available at: www.VisitVisalia.org and www.DiscoverTulareCounty.com