We have four dogs and love to take them with us when we travel within the United States. Consequently, we end up exploring a lot of destinations locally by car. This was the case on our recent trip to Sequoia National Park California where we learned a lot about how to make the most of experiencing the park via vehicle. I thought I’d share some of those most memorable learnings with you from the home of the giant redwood forest.
Here are my 15 Tips for Exploring Sequoia National Park by Car
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There are no gas stations inside Sequoia National Park, so be sure to fill up before you enter. There is a lot to explore and you may find the drive back a little longer than you and your gas tank feel is comfortable.
2. Motion Sickness Medication
Exploring Sequoia National Park by car can make some people motion sick. Sharp switchbacks that either ascend or descend are the norm rather than exception. If you have someone with you who has a tendency towards motion sickness they may want to take a dose of motion sickness medication before hitting the road.
3. Tire Chains
The weather can change in an instant, especially in the higher park altitudes. We were there in October and still saw snow that had fallen the previous year. Be aware that tire chains may be necessary depending on the time of year you are exploring especially if you are driving to Sequoia National Park in winter.
Although there are places inside to park to stop and get a bit to eat, you may not be near them when your group gets hungry. When exploring Sequoia National Park by car I suggest bringing a cooler full of sandwiches, drinks and snacks so that you don’t have to change your route or backtrack when hunger strikes.
5. Dress Code
On two of the days we went exploring in the park the weather changed more than 30 degrees as we gained and lost altitude. Be sure to dress in layers that are easy to take off and put back on when needed.
Be sure to take your photographs as soon as the view inspires you to do so. Don’t fall into the “I’ll get it on the way back” mode, as access to viewing points is different depending on which direction you’re traveling. Kings Canyon overlook is a very popular spot for photos.
7. Study Up
I can’t recommend highly enough that you spend some time reading up on the park before you go. Understanding a little of its history – both natural and human – will help you get the most out of your destination. Don’t forget to pack and study the Sequoia National Park Road map so you know your route.
8. Rear View Mirror
While exploring Sequoia National Park by car, the driver should know what/who’s behind them at all times. If a black bear or bull elk walks across the road in front of you, you’ll need to know whether or not it’s safe to stop short for a quick photograph.
9. Watch the Road Signs
There are a plethora of hairpin turns throughout Sequoia’s roadways, but luckily, they are all marked quite well. Pay attention so that these hazards don’t catch you off guard.
10. Courtesy Counts
If you find you have a car right on your bumper or several cars lined up behind you, be sure to use one of the many pull-offs to get over and let them pass. We all explore at our own speed, and both tailgating and being tailgated ruins the fun.
Please note that not only is smoking against the law inside Sequoia National Park, using electronic cigarettes (sometimes called vaporizers) are as well. If you can’t go a few hours without a smoke, you might want to buy some nicotine patches or gum to tide you over.
12. Hug Your Curves
About the only thing more prevalent than the gorgeous landscape in the park are the number of curves in the roadway. They are often sharp and wrap around a mountainside, so be sure to hug the inside to avoid a head-on collision with someone coming from the other direction.
13. 22’ Maximum
There are multiple places in the park that are closed to vehicles longer than 22’. So leave the mansion-on-wheels at the campground and explore the park with an alternate vehicle.
14. Smell the Roses
While exploring Sequoia National Park by car remember that you’re there to enjoy the beauty. Don’t hurry. Don’t stress. Take time to notice even the smallest of details.
This is perhaps my favorite thing about Sequoia National Park … the smell! Roll down your windows and breathe deeply to take in the essence of these great giants. It’s a bouquet you’ll never forget.
Do you have any driving tips to add for exploring this park of majestic red woods? Share your best tips for a road trip adventure in one day in Sequoia National Park below!
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