Great Trees of California
September 10, 2015 Dave Z
If you like forests and have always wanted to take a trip to out west, you’re in luck. Those two activities line up with virtual perfection. With eight (nine if you count the part of Death Valley), National Parks to choose from, California is a nature lover’s paradise. And most of those National parks have some impressive arboreal features (read: trees). Not that we would recommend claiming them, you understand. Not only is it illegal, but falling out of a 350-foot tall Redwood is bound to ruin your weekend. Unless you like emergency rooms, that is.
Once you taken in the Redwoods, you can head south on Route-5 to Yosemite. With five distinct vegetation zones to explore at different elevations, you’ll find some fantastically diverse plant life. Ranging from huge California Oaks to swaths of wildflowers, you’re sure to be amazed. Be sure to bring your camera for this one, you won’t want to miss some of the incredible mountain vistas. Here’s some help from the park on planning your trip. Even if you’re just driving through, there are plenty of sights to see on from the car. Please be sure to obey all posted speed limits (for real). The bears and other wildlife don’t know the difference, and many die each year due to traffic accidents.
Just in case you thought things couldn’t get more magnificent than El Capitan, head a little further south to Sequoia & Kings National Park. This place is Huge, with a capital H— especially the trees. What’s fascinating here however, is the fire.
You may have heard that fires are part of the natural life-cycle of forests, and in Sequoia & Kings, that is even more true. The famed trees actually need regular fires to reproduce. And it turns out that wood burns pretty well, so with it’s alpine landscape, Sequoia & Kings is one of the best spots in the world to observe natural fires in action.
Now hang on there Smokey; that doesn’t mean you should run around the park with a tank full of kerosene and a lighter proclaiming yourself to be the next park savior. While the park staff do occasionally use prescribed burns to help the ecosystem, these are also strictly controlled.
Regulations on what fires are permitted when and where change based on the season. In the dry summer it’s not even uncommon for smoking to be prohibited below certain altitudes. Check [this page] for the most up-to-date information.
Many people just drive through Sequoia & Kings on their way to some other destination. Because of the nature of the park, oftentimes GPS and satellite signals will be spotty or flat out incorrect. Make sure you always have a physical map on hand, and double-check your routes before you begin. Camping under a Sequoia during a thunderstorm because you got lost probably isn’t something you want to be doing.
Enjoy your road tour through some of the great forests of California. If you’ve got some other fantastic spots you’d love to share, let us know in the comments!
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