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Winter fun at Sequoia National Park: California's first national park

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by Diane LeBow, photography by John Montgomery

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Did you know that Sequoia National Park was California’s first national park, dating from September 25, 1890, and was the second national park established in the USA after Yellowstone? Wuksachi Lodge, the only lodge in the park, is conveniently located to explore the park’s treasures and offers many programs throughout the year.

Out among the giant Sequoia trees, enjoy elegant dinners at their Peaks Restaurant, hot cocoa by the fireside, dining and dancing for a romantic New Year’s Eve.

During the day at Wuksachi, work up an appetite with family sledding, snow shoeing, or cross country skiing. The lodge offers rentals and lessons and even a snow chains concierge. Visit the General Grant Tree in neighboring Kings Canyon National Park. This tree, the second largest in the world, is over 3000 years old. In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the Nation’s Christmas Tree. Since then, each year people gather at its base to sing, pay tribute to nature, and wish peace on earth and good will to men.

The National Park Service of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks along with the Sequoia Natural History Association complement each other, providing education, preservation, and interpretation for visitors. www.sequoiahistory.org. They explain that the cinnamon-barked Giant Sequoias, “the largest vegetables in the world,” can grow as high as a 25-story building and the oldest lived more than 3500 years. Their ancestors shared the earth with dinosaurs more than 144 million years ago.

Giant Forest Museum and Big Trees Trail are easily accessible highlights near the Wuksachi. The Giant Forest contains the General Sherman, the world’s largest tree. Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S., towers over the park, while 240 caves burrow deep into the earth, including famous Crystal Cave. Photograph Moro Rock’s granite dome or take a hike to the top. Enjoy snowshoeing or cross country skiing around Round Meadow or on 32 miles of marked ski trails, as well as family sledding at Wolverton Meadow.

If you go:

--Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park, http://www.nationalparkreservations.com/sequoia.php (888) 252-5757

--John Muir Lodge at Kings Canyon National Park: “a miniature Grand Canyon” http://www.nationalparkreservations.com/sequoia.php, (877) 436-9615

--Check current road conditions before traveling to the parks: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/road-conditions.htm.

CLICK ON DIANE'S ARTICLE ABOUT TENAYA LODGE NEAR YOSEMITE

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