Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Two Sierra parks managed as one, Sequoia and
Kings Canyon tend to be ignored by Northern
Californians focused on Yosemite. Big mistake.
Here you’ll find the largest trees in existence
and Kings Canyon, which — seriously — rivals
Yosemite Valley for grandeur. nps.gov/seki
• DON’ T MISS The Giant Sequoias at Giant
Forest. And 50-mile-long, completely amazing
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway.
• HIDDEN GEM At Sequoia’s south end,
Mineral King is an alpine valley reached by fol-
lowing a beautiful, if winding, 25-mile road.
• WHERE TO STAY Wuksachi Lodge
resembles a tasteful ski lodge. Silver City Mountain
Resort has cabins with great access to
Mineral King. Sequoia High Sierra Camp
offers high-style glamping.
Redwood National and State Parks
Like the coast redwoods it celebrates, this
park system (which includes state parks, too)
is long and skinny, extending from Humboldt
County almost to the Oregon border. It’s
uncrowded, too — it got only 429,000 visitors
last year — giving you lots of room to gape at
the lofty trees. nps.gov/redw
• DON’ T MISS Off Highway 101 near Orick,
the Lady Bird Johnson Trail is a 1.5-mile walk
through old-growth coast redwoods.
• HIDDEN GEM Not only is Gold Bluffs Beach
a stunning stretch of coast, it’s a likely spot
to see the once-endangered-now-thriving
• WHERE TO STAY No lodging in the park,
but the Lost Whale Inn in nearby Trinidad
Lassen Volcanic National Park
It’s California’s Yellowstone, with mudpots
and fumaroles and lakes and (even better
than Yellowstone) an active volcano. It’s
an especially good park for kids, with
different things to do within a relatively
compact area. nps.gov/lavo
• DON’ T MISS Bumpass Hell (a scalded
pioneer gave it the name) is the park’s largest
hydrothermal area, sulfurous with mudpots
and boiling pools viewable on a boardwalk trail.
• HIDDEN GEM In the park’s northeast cor-
ner, the Mars-like, 700-foot-high Cinder Cone
is tough to hike up but vastly satisfying to
bounce back down.
• WHERE TO STAY Drakesbad Guest Ranch
has been saddling up guests for over a century.
The Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins are
small but stylish.
Pinnacles National Park
Established in 2013, it’s the newest national
park, with terrific hiking among those eerily
eroded pinnacles, plus possible glimpses of
the California condors that hang out here.
Choose between the park’s west side, accessed
from Soledad, or the more-developed east
side, accessed from State Route 25 south of
• DON’ T MISS The 3.5-mile (round trip)
Condor Gulch Trail gives views of the park’s
most striking rock formations.
• HIDDEN GEM Monthly night hikes show off
Pinnacles’ bats and other nocturnal creatures.
• WHERE TO STAY Hacienda de Leal, in San
Juan Bautista, an hour north of Pinnacles’ east
entrance, is a nicely appointed boutique hotel. m
Clockwise from left:
A redwood drive-through;
Lassen’s Bumpass Hell
trail; Bear Gulch day
use area at Pinnacles;
the trees at Redwood
National and State Parks.