Put simply, I love the southern approach to Sequoia National Park. The road through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada follows the Kaweah River up from Lake Kaweah through golden hills dotted with oak and chaparral, winding along ever upward toward the jutting dome of Moro Rock, the landscape changing with each mile. For miles prior to reaching the Foothills Visitor center, you transition from the rich farmlands of the central valley into rock-strewn hills and eventually turn the corner to the most amazing vistas along the Kaweah valley.
The drive up the General’s Highway takes about an hour from the Foothills Visitor Center to the start of the famed groves for which Sequoia was named. The road switches back up the steep grade, the edge dropping off down dizzying heights below, and you feel like you’re traveling from one part of the country to another. I love this sense of transition, this feeling of movement from the familiar (to me at least) golden hills and chaparral of Southern California to the mountains and forests of the Sierras. By the time you reach the top, you feel like you’re in a another world entirely, surrounded by the giant trees of the Sequoia groves. The air feels cleaner, cooler, fresher, and there’s a sense of calm and release brought on by nothing more than the psychological perception that you’ve gone somewhere different.
I’ve never found a place where this transition is more striking and affecting than the drive up the General’s Highway, and the view of Moro Rock above the Kaweah River always serves as a reminder that I’m getting away from the stress and concerns that I associate with Southern California. It’s the feeling we look for in any trip or vacation, and it never fails to make me happy.