Sequoia National Park in One Day

After spending the night in Visalia or Three Rivers—and provided your vehicle's length does not exceed 22 feet—shove off early on Route 198 to Sequoia National Park's Ash Mountain entrance. Pull over at the Hospital Rock picnic area to gaze up at the imposing granite formation of Moro Rock, which you later will climb. Heed signs that advise "10 mph" around tight turns as you climb 3,500 feet on Generals Highway to the Giant Forest Museum. Spend a half hour there, then examine some firsthand by circling the lovely Round Meadow on the Big Trees Trail, to which you must walk from the museum or from its parking lot across the road.

Get back in your car and continue a few miles north on Generals Highway to see the jaw-dropping General Sherman Tree. Then set off on the Congress Trail so that you can be further awed by the Senate and House big-tree clusters. Buy lunch at the Lodgepole complex, 2 miles to the north, and eat at the nearby Pinewood picnic area. Now you're ready for the day's big exercise, the mounting of Moro Rock.

You can drive there or, if it is summer, park at the museum lot and take the free shuttle. Count on spending at least an hour for the 350-step ascent and descent, with a pause on top to appreciate the 360-degree view. Get back in the car, or on the shuttle, and proceed past the Tunnel Log to Crescent Meadow. Spend a relaxing hour or two strolling on the trails that pass by, among other things, Tharp's Log. By now you've probably renewed your appetite; head to Wolverton Barbecue (summer evenings only) or the restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge.

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