By far, the most popular “side trip” from Wonder Valley Ranch Resort is a visit to any one of the three National Parks that are near our Sierra foothills property. We take great pride in being neighbors to these parks, and encourage all of our visitors, guests and conference attendees to experience the Giant forests of Sequoia or cascading waterfalls of Yosemite. Whether you travel by car with your friends or family, or see the parks as part of a bus trip with your group, a visit to these national treasures will be a rewarding day:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Park is the second-oldest national park in the United States, and was established in 1890 to protect the Big Trees in Giant Forest. Sequoia is about a 30-minute drive from Wonder Valley and also contains the Mineral King Valley and Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Also in 1890, a small part of what is now Kings Canyon National Park was set aside as General Grant National Park. In 1940, General Grant was merged into Kings Canyon National Park which eventually grew to include 456,552 acres of backcountry wilderness. Together, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks total over 863,700 acres.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, the General Grant Tree was discovered by Joseph Hardin Thomas. The General Grant Tree – standing 268.1 feet high – is a living memorial to the men and women of the United States who have given their lives in service to their country. The largest of the Giant Sequoias is the General Sherman Tree – the world’s largest living thing – located in Giant Forest. It stands 274.9 feet high with a diameter of 102.6 inches, and has a volume of 52,508 cubic feet. The enormity of these trees is only eclipsed by their ages. While the exact ages of the General Sherman, General Grant and other large Sequoias are unknown, it is estimated that these giants are between 1,800 and 2,700 years old!
Another scenic draw for park visitors is Kings Canyon, the best-kept secret in American geology. The canyon reaches a depth outside the park of some 8,200 feet from river level up to Spanish Mountain’s peak. At the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River, the canyon is the deepest in North America; deeper than the Snake River’s Hells Canyon in Idaho, or even the better-known Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, which boasts nearly 95 percent designated Wilderness, is an easy drive from Wonder Valley. The expansive park’s 747,956 acres or 1,169 square miles are home to hundreds of wildlife species and an abundance of native plants. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant Sequoia groves and biological diversity. Two Wild & Scenic Rivers, the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, begin within Yosemite and flow west into the Central Valley. People experience the park through 800 miles of hiking trails and 350 miles of road.