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Guide To Sequoia National Park

 

Sequoia National Park located in central California has so much to see and explore. It is home of the tallest trees in the world, the redwoods (sequoia  sempervirens ). These trees can easily reach to be 300 ft (91 meter). They are also some of the oldest trees, some being over 2,000 years old. If you plan on visiting, I suggest you get an early start to beat the crowds. It is not as crowded as other national parks like Yosemite, but it still gets many visitors specially on the weekends and summer months.

Entrance

The entrance fee is $35 per passenger vehicle. The pass is good for a week. You can come back as many times as you want within seven days. Individual passes are $20 per person.

The Park

Right after the entrance you will come into the visitors center. Here you can ask for information about the park. You can buy tickets if you plan on visiting crystal cave, and you must buy them here there is no passes at the cave.

 

Right after passing the visitors center don’t miss the famous Sequoia National Park sign. It’s a perfect place to take a family picture. It will be to the right side of the road with a place to park.

 

As you keep driving up the General Hwy, on your left side you will find Tunnel Rock. Until the highway was widened in 1997, this narrow passageway was the only route through. It’s closed to vehicles now, which would have a tough time squeezing through side by side, but pedestrians can still walk underneath it.

We drove up on the General Hwy. It is about a 45 minute drive to reach the giant tree forest museum from the entrance. The snow is melting in June so the roads are wet and slippery. Remember to drive carefully and check the speed limits. The roads are very winding with many sharp curves. If you get car sick a lot, I suggest take some medication beforehand.

There are a few places to stop and take a picture of the scenic views. You can see Morro rock from many of these stops. Drive slow and take in the views, and stop and enjoy picture perfect moments.

Giant Forest Museum

 

 

At last we reach the famous Giant Forest Museum. This is where we parked and left the car for the rest of our visit. You can go into the museum where you will find lots of information about the park and trees. You can read about the history of the park, age of the trees and how tall they can get. I have been here many times and always learn something new. There is also a small gift shop.

 

Trails and Hikes

One of the most famous trails is the big tree tail. This trail is easy and you will get to see some huge sequoias. It loops around a large meadow and you will learn more about the trees and nature as you walk. It is a great trail for all ages. Located just outside the museum.

After completing this trail we came back to the museum and took a shuttle towards the General Sherman Tree trail. During the summer there are free shuttles to get around the park. On this trail you will find the tallest tree in the world, the General Sherman. This tree is 275 ft tall. This trail is less than a mile and very easy for all ages also.

 

Shuttle one can also take you to the restaurant and the general market in the park. Riding the shuttles is great way to get around and reduce traffic. We got the shuttle to the market and ate lunch there. We then got the shuttle back to the museum. The shuttles run every 15 minutes.

Morro Rock

After getting back to the giant forest museum we took shuttle two to Morro Rock. It is two miles from the museum to Morro Rock if you prefer to hike. You can only drive there during the week, on weekend shuttles are the only vehicle allowed to go up to Morro Rock.

Once you reach the rock it is 400 steps to reach the summit of Morro Rock. This was very difficult hike up, I have to admit I did not make it to the top, but you can get great views from many of the steps towards the top. Handrails along the way make the climb safe, though you should keep a close eye on small children because of steep drop off along the entire route. The hike can be strenuous; taking your time as you climb can help you adjust to the thinner air at higher elevations.

 

Tunnel Tree

 

Get the same shuttle and it will take you to tunnel tree. You can only drive through the tree on weekdays. This is another great place to take pictures. From here there are a few trails you can hike or as we did just took the shuffle to keep exploring.

We spent the rest of the day hiking and exploring. There is so much to see, we find something new every time we come back.

Always be careful and aware of your surroundings. Go into the Sequoia National Park to read about wild animal safety and never feed a bear.

There is also great places to swim and cool off, but with all the rain and snow we have had this year, the waters are very dangerous it is best to wait a a few weeks.

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Check out my guide to Cambria California along highway 1.

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A day in Cambria, California with only $30

lrg_dsc01124-2Visit Cambria, California for a day with less than 30 dollars. Cambria is a small beach town along the famous Highway 1. It is filled with charm and old town feelings.  It is nestled among pines trees and scenic beach views.  Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco  it is a popular destination for travelers  coming and going through the central coast.  I took a road trip to Cambria with a budget of only $30 ( not including gas) for a day.  Read along a about my day  in this picture perfect town. 

 

Local Bakery 

As I drove into town right into Main Street my first stop was this small bakery named French Corner Bakery.  A very popular bakery within the locals.  I walked in and could smell the sweet pastries and fresh brewing coffee.  It was early on a Saturday morning and was already filling up with people ordering their morning coffee.  I ordered a small coffee and banana muffin for a total of $5.50.  I enjoyed my breakfast outside the shop where they have tables and chairs.  I could smell the salty fresh air and feel the morning breeze.  

 

Downtown 

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Main Street  in Cambria has all a small beach town has to offer. From shops, art galleries and local restaurants.  You will find many local artisan shops and some antique stores. 

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The town has such beautiful historic architecture.  The outside of most shops is filled with flowers and green plants.  Even the trash cans have planters on the top with flowers and greenery growing.  I walked into many boutiques and looked at the wonderful and unique merchandise.  You will find handmade jewelry and so much more.  Walking around was so much fun and meeting local shop owners who were all  nice and welcoming.  There is free public parking and restrooms for you convenience.  

 

Nit Witt Ridge

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The Nit Witt Ridge house is a must see when in Cambria.  Located just up the hill from Main Street on Hillcrest Drive.  This unique home built by Arthur Hail Beal (1896-1992) with just a pick and shovel on a hillside in 1928.  He spent almost 50 years carving his unique castle by the hill. 

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The Nit Witt house is built using natural materials found near the pine forest and shells from the beach. It was also built with trash that residents of Cambria where throwing out as Mr. Hail Beal was a trash collector for the city for about 10 years. Some parts are also reportedly of Hearts Castle where he supposedly worked for a time.  There is no fee to visit the Nit Witt house, but a $10 donation is suggested for adults.  I gave the owner $10 for his tour and the wonderful stories he told us about the home.  When you arrive there is a sign outside with a time of when the next tour will be.  Arrive on time as tours start right on the hour. 

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Moonstone Beach 

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Moonstone beach is a long public beach with plenty of free parking along Moonstone Beach Drive. There is free public restroom near the south end.  Parallel to the beach is a boardwalk with the most beautiful views of the ocean and so many spring time wildflowers. There are benches to rest, sit and enjoy the views. 

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Even though you will most likely not find a moonstone gems, there is plenty of colorful pebbles.  The pebbles look like gems with glitter as they shine with the sun.  I walked along the beach and enjoyed the cool wind.  There was lots of driftwood that someone had made onto a tepee. 

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If you plan on staying overnight this seems like a great location.  There is plenty of lodging on Moonstone Beach Dr.. There is some wonderful boutique hotels with views of the ocean.  You can sit and watch the sunset from your balcony.

 

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal

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The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal rockery spreads over six miles of shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas.  It is a short drive north on Highway drive form Cambria.  You will see dozens of elephant seals sun bathing in the beach.  You see them play and swim and sometimes have small brawl with each other.  This was by far my favorite part of the trip.   Loved seeing the seals interact with each other.  There was a very knowledgeable gentleman from Friends of the Elephant Seal there answering questions and giving you fun facts about the seals.   

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Piedras Blancas Light House

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Just a few more miles north,  you will find the light house.  It was closed when I got there and was not able to get inside. Took  a picture from the road.  There is information flyers outside you can take and read.  This light house was built in 1875.  There is a local light house association working on restoring this beautiful peace of history.   You can only get in with a tour that is on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 9:45am.   You can visit the Piedras Blancas website for more information.  

 

Where to Eat in Cambria 

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After a day of exploring I drove back to town.  There is plenty of places to eat.  I went into Main Street Grill, a local sports bar and grill.  There is lots of places to sit both inside and outside.  I ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a coke.  This seems like a popular place because there was a line to order your food.  Even though it seems like it was very busy, the order was ready really quick.  This was a great way to end my day in Cambria before heading home. 

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Cambria, CA a Great Destination

It was a fun enjoyable day in Cambria. There is plenty more to do if you want to visit.  Like the very popular Hearts Castle.  But I was on a day trip with a budget. I will definitely come and keep exploring.   If you would like to see more money saving travels please let me know by commenting below. 

Here is total spent on this trip,

Coffee and Pastry – $5.50

Nit Witt Ridge Donation- $10

Hamburger, fries and soft drink- $11.60

Total spent was $27.10  for a day. 

Thank you for reading.   Follow me on Instagram and Facebook. 

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Guide to Carrizo Plains Wildflowers

It’s a unique year for California. There was so much rain this year and it’s very unusual. All this moisture has once again made it posible for a super bloom at Carrizo  Plain National Monument.  All you wildflowers chasers get ready because the super-bloom is in its peak season. Here are a few thing to remember when heading to Carrizo Plains.

Access Into Carrizo Plain National Monument 

There are two main access into Carrizo Plains. From the north the access is via Soda Lake Rd off of State Route 58. From the south side, is via Soda Lake Road of of State Route 33/166.

We went through the south side from Route 166 and drove all the way through Soda Lake Rd.  and came out Route 58. I recommend this to get the full view and experience of the park.

Roads

The main road which is Soda Lake Road, is mostly unpaved and the paved parts have big pot holes. You must drive carefully. There is also lots of rocks on the roads. If you plan on staying on the main road it should be fine, but if you plan on taking the smaller roads, they are all dirt. It would be good to have four wheel drive vehicle. Remember that there is limited phone service out there. Also there are parts that a towing company won’t go to and if you find someone willing to tow your vehicles, it won’t come cheap.

Food

Once you are inside the Carrizo Plain Monument, there is no place to get food and water. Remember to pack your lunch, snacks and plenty of drinking water. If you have pets please pack their food and water also.

Sun

The temperature in late March through the beginning of May is in the 70’s to high 80’s. You will not find much shade in the plains. Make sure to pack some sunscreen for adults and kids. Bring your hats and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. If possible wear long sleeves and pants for further protection from sun exposure. If you are sensitive to the sun, I would suggest to bring an umbrella.

Wild Animals

Remember you are out in the wild. respect the space of animals and always be aware of your surroundings. Raddle snakes are very common during spring as the air warms up. Always watch where you step and be cautious of snakes. Stay on the trails and don’t walk into tall vegetation or grass. Wear aprópiate shoes and long pants to further protect you from a snake bite.

Coyotes are also known to roam the plains. Never feed any Wild animal. Also never try to approach a coyote or any other wild animal in the the area.

Trails

There is plenty of trails to enjoy a walk or hike. Please stay in the trails while walking through the plains. Do not step on any of the wild flowers and stepping on them can damage up to 20 flowers and destroy those that are in seeding stage.

Do not rely on GPS to guide you. This is a remote area. I would recommend you use other mapping systems to guide you. There are maps available on the visitor site. You can also pick one up at the visitor center at the park.

Pets are required to be on a leash and controlled at all times.

Enjoy your Trip

Lastly enjoy your trip. You can go for a day trip or camp on the plains. Make sure you plan ahead and have fun!

More Information

For more information visit the Carrizo Plain National Monument site.

If you have any question you can always leave me a comment.

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