Visiting National Parks is one of my highest priorities and being able to share those experiences with people I love is better than anything! This past Mother’s Day weekend my Ma and Pa met me in LA to explore the massive trees in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park! My Uncle in LA was a gracious host and joined us on our National Park day trips. The days leading up to the weekend were spent working from home and relaxing with our toughest decisions being what to eat!
It was also great to see a lifelong friend who I’d be seeing the next week to climb Mount Hood the highest peak in Oregon! No he is not the lizard.
Saturday we set off at 6am sharp to spend the day with the largest trees in the World! By 10am we made it to the Foothills Visitor Center within Sequoia National Park! Lucky for us Crescent Meadow Rd had just opened for the season so before we’d walk among the giants we’d hike up a granite dome named Moro Rock that stands between the Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. 350 steps lead you to the top but the views start from step one!
We wondered at the peaks of the Great Western Divide and the foothills of San Joaquin Valley before we had to retrace our steps.
This was a perfect intro to the park especially since the weather was unexpectedly great! Although technically my first time here was hiking Mount Whitney the highest peak in the lower 48!
It’s hard to beat the views from up high but the views from down low certainly rival it. We started with a walk through the Giant Forest which contains 5 of 10 largest trees on the planet!
Among them is the largest tree by volume on Earth! The General Sherman Tree!
The monarch sequoias are treemendous! No other living tree or organism has a greater mass!
It was a lot to take in.
After seeing it from every angle we left to dine at one of two restaurants in the park, The Peaks, and it was quite good! The General Sherman IPA was great.
An hour’s drive away from General Sherman is the third largest tree on Earth and the Sequoia I was most eager to see! Yes the name has something to do with that. The Grant Grove is located in a small sliver of Kings Canyon National Park. I hope to come back to see the rest of Kings Canyon, maybe by way of the PCT!
General G did not disappoint! In fact it exceeded my expectations as did the entire Grant Grove which seemed to have the highest concentration of Giant Sequoias! You’ll take a short walk past a few other gorgeous giants to get there.
Soon we were greeted by America’s Christmas Tree! We were happy to find it much less crowded than the Giant Forest and to me even more interesting.
Diffidently the coolest tree I’ve ever seen!
To top it off the General Grant Tree is a National Shrine in honor of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces!
This entire land of giants was extraordinary and why Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is also a Biosphere Reserve! Thanks to these designations and their thick bark there are almost no threats to the Sequoia trees. The bark is the thickest on Earth and because of the presence of tannin they are totally resistant to disease and fire! Sequoias are some of the hardiest organisms alive!
It was a long drive back to LA but we were all smiles! The following day was Mother’s Day and we’d spend it in the Channel Islands National Park! You can only get to the 8 islands by boat or plane and we found the best option to be by ferry with Island Packers. They offer a wide variety of experiences from Whale watching to kayaking trips. Our trip would provide us with a full day to explore the East Islet of Anacapa Island. Before taking the ferry be sure to stop by the Robert J. Lagomarsino visitor center.
At 9:30am we took off from the Channel Island Harbor Marina in Oxnard, California for a 12 mile (45min) ride to Anacapa Island.
It was pretty grey and gloomy but we never saw rain. The landing cove was crazy cool! Towering volcanic rock surrounded the light blue waters coated with kelp.
The most noticeable thing on the island was the immense amount of birds. Over 15,000 Western Gulls call the Channel Islands home and hundreds of California Brown Pelican do too. From the moment we stepped foot on the island to the moment we stepped off we were greeted by these Western Gulls.
I use the word greeted loosely.
Most were nesting on some eggs so I understand why they were so vocal. Maybe they were just warning us of walking in their poop.
Either way it was a crazy interesting and unique experience! This islet is only made up of 700 acres so with a mile and half walk you can get from one end to the other. The inland was covered in pretty purple and yellow shrubs and cactus.
The few structures on the island were very California-esque and provided some great contrast to the beautiful landscape.
We started our time on the island by walking along the south coast.
After a half mile we peaked over the cliffs at Pinniped Point where there is a haul out site for California Sea Lions! Even if you couldn’t see them you sure could smell them.
From there we worked our way over to Inspiration Point to have lunch and to hopefully be inspired!
The weather cleared up just in time and gave us exactly what we asked for! We had a lovely picnic and took a ton of pictures!
A sweet Mama on Mother’s Day! So grateful for her, she’s the best!!
What a place to have a picnic! After an hour or so we said goodbye to one of the most beautiful vantage points in the National Park system!
It was especially fun seeing these two brothers banter and mess with each other like brothers would!
From there we walked back to the east side of the island via the north coast passing Cathedral Cove and a lot more seagulls.
The last bit of the islet to check out was the stunning lighthouse.
We tried to say hello to every seagull but there were just too many out there so we did our best before heading back on the ferry.
Love the landing cove!
Before heading back to the mainland we toured around the island a bit. We circled their most famous natural structure, Arch Rock!
We saw more Sea Lions and you guessed it more Western Gulls.
We were in amazement of our experience but that wasn’t the last of it. About halfway to back a pod of dolphins decided to have some fun in our wake! The captain said these pods can ride 1000 deep. I had never seen that many dolphins in one place. It was an incredible display and instantly became a top highlight of the trip! The Channel Islands National Park is a must visit!!
I had an absolute blast exploring three National Parks with my wonderful Mom, Dad and Uncle! We did everything I wanted to to do so under Mom’s request we finished the day with a home cooked meal and a cheesy movie by the fire pit. We were missing a few important members of the family but otherwise it was a perfect trip! I can’t wait to see them all again. Caio!