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Sequoia + Yosemite National Parks

Updated: Sep 15, 2023




Our itinerary


Yosemite National Park has always been a place Alec & I wanted to visit + explore and it just so happened that where we live it made sense to also hit Sequoia National Park along the way. My dad also loves all things active, outdoors, & hiking so we invited him along for the trip as well & boy am I glad we did.


Day 1:


Tuesday afternoon Alec & I drove to Enterprise to pick up our rental car. We decided to rent a car just to save miles & our brake pads on Optimas (our Kia Optima & yes we name all of our cars). My dad landed at LAX that evening where we scooped him up & continued to our first Airbnb located in Three Rivers, CA. It was about a 3 & ½ hour road trip from LAX and once we made it there we were exhausted. The drive was pretty easy & mostly highway which was nice because it was pitch black so we really couldn't see our surroundings at all. Dad & Alec unloaded the car while I ran inside to guard the door for rattlesnakes, bats, & bears. Our Airbnb host freaked me out a bit with all of her warnings/information about creatures + critters in the area but in hindsight we are sure glad she did. Upon our arrival it was obviously very late (midnight) and very dark so we had to turn all the lights on which attracted bugs & bats. Right as we were finishing up unloading & locking up a bat almost flew right into the living room but luckily dad was able to slam the door shut fast enough that it didn’t get in (thank goodness). After all of that excitement we all quickly hit the hay in prep for an eventful + exhausting day of hiking!


Day 2:


Wednesday morning we got up pretty early which was not planned. Alec & I’s room had a ton of windows which made for a gorgeous view however the biggest window’s shade wouldn’t shut all the way, which is of course where the sun rose in the morning so we woke up blinded by the light around 6:30am. Once we all got up & at ‘em we drove over to Sequoia Coffee Co. to grab some breakfast to go before heading to Sequoia National Park for our hike filled day. I ordered the Cookie Butter coffee + the Frenchie sandwich & both were incredible. Alec ordered a black coffee of course + the Bacon Bomb, which he loved but decided maybe wasn’t the best fuel for the day. After we finished our breakfast we all got ready & packed our bags, then headed to the Three Rivers Market to grab sandwiches to bring with us for lunch before heading to the park. 15 minutes later we were at the entrance to Sequoia National Park! To enter national parks there is a $30 car fee or you can pay $80 for a yearly membership that gets you into any national park. Once we got through the main gate we parked the car & headed to the local gift shop to fill our waters + talk to a park ranger about the hike we had picked & thank goodness we did. It was pretty warm in Sequoia that day & the hike we had planned was not well shaded or breezy. Luckily the park ranger was super helpful & gave us the perfect game plan for the day. Once we left the park ranger it was about an hour drive to our first destination, not many miles traveled but a ton of windy roads & switch backs make for a slow drive.


  • We started on the Big Trees Trail which was really just a small circle loop around a meadow but he told us it was a great place to spot a bear eating & sunbathing. Sadly we didn’t see one but used this walk as our warm up for the next hike.



  • Then we stopped in the Giant Forest Museum & park store to grab a Sequoia National Park sticker to start our new collection for our yeti cooler + use the bathrooms. Sequoia had the nicest facilities that were all super clean + air conditioned all throughout the park.



  • Next we drove to Moro Rock, which was basically a big staircase, to hike to the top to get a gorg 360 degree view of the park. Disclaimer, we do not recommend this hike if you're afraid of heights, it’s pretty steep & not a ton of supportive railing but so worth it!



  • Afterwards we headed to see the General Sherman Tree which is the largest living tree in the world. Sadly the top is now dead from being struck by lightning but the base continues to get wider + grow every year.



  • The General Sherman Tree was located on the Congress Trail, which was a 2 mile loop, so we completed that next. Once we made it back to the car we were all starved, so we ate our sandies + snacks while admiring the giant trees hovering in the sky.



  • Last but not least we did the Tokopah Falls trail which was by far the hardest of the day. All of the other hikes were paved but this one was your typical gravel, rocks, & dirt. Definitely worth it though, the waterfall at the end was beautiful, just maybe not the best to end on after hiking all over Sequoia that day.



Once we finally made it back to the car after a day filled with all kinds of hikes, we were exhausted. We stopped at River View Restaurant & Lounge for a quick drink before heading back to our Airbnb. Sadly the hot water heater was out so we all had to take very frigid showers before getting ready for dinner. It’s crazy how much faster we can all get ready without taking long, hot showers ;) Since it was Cinco de Mayo we had to celebrate properly with margs + mexican food. We ate at Casa Mendoza, which was highly recommended by our Airbnb host. After ordering a round of the house margs, I had the enchilada plate & Alec had a burrito. Both were pretty good but what can we say, Tex-Mex is always WAY better. You can take the kids out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the kids! Once we finished dinner + drinks we headed back to our Airbnb right away & passed out almost immediately. We were all super tired from our adventurous day but excited for the rest of the week & more hikes to come!


Day 3:


Thursday morning we grabbed breakfast from Sequoia Coffee Co. again because it was that good. Alec & I both ordered our same coffees from the day before but for our meals we got the breakfast burritos, which were phenomenal. Alec also just had to order the griddle donut which was probably the best donut we’ve ever had (& that’s saying something because we do donut Sunday almost every Sunday). After eating our breakfast in the car because we were starved + it was too hot to eat outside, we headed back to our Airbnb to pack up then hit the road. On our way out of town we stopped for gas & left Three Rivers around 9:30am and headed towards Yosemite National Park. Once we made it to the entrance gate, we paid the $30 national park fee and made a quick stop at the Wawona General Store for some souvenirs + a snack. From there we drove over to the Ahwahnee Hotel (thank you tiktok for this incredible rec) & made it just in time for lunch at the breathtaking dining hall which closed at 2pm so they could start prepping for their dinner rush. We ordered a round of drinks- the Half Dome Beer, El Capitini, & Ginger Marg + the seasonal grilled cheese, house burger, jalapeño cheddar sausage. We of course had to end our meal with the infamous Boysenberry Pie and did not regret a single bite! After eating our hearts out we decided to walk it off on a “short” hike around Mirror Lake. Little did we know what this hike was about to turn into though.



After walking a little over a mile from the hotel to Mirror Lake, we “chadded it up” with some fellow hikers. They recommended instead of turning around & walking back on the same path, to continue going around the lake, walk over a bridge in front of a waterfall then finish walking back on the opposite side from which we started. Of course we were all for recommendations so we couldn’t resist. Not knowing how long this path truly was we just kept trekking along & taking in all the gorgeous views & wonderful weather. If you know me at all you know 1. I’m not much of an outdoorsy/nature girl & 2. I do not like seeing wild animals & am terribly afraid of animal attacks. So of course on our roadtrip I was looking up all sorts of info on bear attacks, what to do, what not to do, & how to outrun the slowest person in our group ;) However seeing a bear in its natural habitat was high on my dad’s bucket list during this hiking trip so he would rarely let me ring my bear bell lol. Once we finally made it to the bridge, we took a quick break, snapped some pics then continued on our way. Not too long after that we were directly under Half Dome & couldn’t help but stop & be in complete awh of God’s incredible creations. I randomly pulled out my gopro to take a selfie of dad & I then I swear as soon as I lowered it I spotted a bear across the path from us. Of course I was in panic mode on the inside but remained calm to not scare the bear. I quickly turned the gopro video mode on & said to dad, “well there ya go!” We of course took a second to admire + game plan what we should do. All the experts say give the bear space & they most likely will continue on their way pretty quickly & if they don’t then turn around. Unfortunately we had already come so far so turning around wasn’t really an option. After standing there for what felt like forever with this bear just staring at us (100 yards away, so not that close but sure did feel like it) Alec whistled at him which helped him move away a little then we walked past him slowly and moved along. My heart was racing after this & I was so glad to be out of there but dad’s smile didn’t go away for the rest of the night! Once we finally made it back to our car (after getting a little lost & taking an extra mile detour) we were pooped. We quickly ran into the Ahwahnee Hotel to grab some refreshments + use the bathroom before heading to pick up our pizza from Parkside Pizza then stopped by the "tunnel view" on our way. Honestly we were all still pretty full from our amazing lunch at the dining hall so we took it to go to eat at our cabin style Vrbo. After we finally found the office & got our keys, we drove over to our cabin, unloaded our bags (again quickly due to bats), showered, & devoured our pizzas then passed out grateful for another day full of excitement & hard work!



Day 4:


Friday morning we got up & grabbed breakfast to go from the Pine Street Market which was just around the corner from our Vrbo. It was really the only place close by that opened up early & had everything you could possibly need without having to drive all the way to the Valley or out of the park. After eating our microwavable breakfast burritos & drinking our coffee, we packed our bags & headed for the falls. As soon as we got to the valley which was about a 40 minute drive from Wawona, we stopped to talk to a park ranger about our plan (just to confirm it was a good one this time of year & such). He could not more highly recommend the Mist Trail (& now neither can we) which takes you to Vernal Falls + Nevada Falls. He informed us that May is the perfect time of year to experience this hike because it is peak runoff since all the ice + snow are melting from winter. Disclaimer, prepare to get pretty wet if you go this time of year & be cautious when climbing because the steps are extremely slippery but it is SO worth it!! The first stop is Vernal Falls & during peak season it is definitely more of a rain shower than a mist but once you get to the top of it everyone lays out on the rocks to dry out before continuing upward & onward. We ended up taking a quick snack break here too, enjoying the view + people watching.



Once we were all dried off & ready to keep going we continued hiking up towards Nevada Falls. Luckily I had hiking boots from back when my fam took a trip to Colorado before my freshman year of college that I held on to & used for this trip. As we were walking under some trees & fallen braches/leaves, I suddenly noticed something didn’t feel right. I immediately looked down to find the bottom of my boot had peeled right off so I had no cushion or support between my foot & the ground lol (just my luck!). Thank goodness Alec had medical tape packed in his emergency bag that we used to wrap around my boot/ankle to keep it together. Once we made it to the top of Nevada Falls (another sweeping view) some lady stopped me & offered some duct tape to help hold my shoe together better. I gladly accepted & it help together the rest of the way down (just had to be WAY more cautious of where & how I stepped because I now had no traction on my boot). After we snapped some pics & took a break at the top of the falls, we hiked back down on the John Muir Trail. The way down is a little harsh on the knees, it is pretty steep so be prepared to lean back a lot & work those hammies! Overall this hike made us realize the hype of Yosemite & now fully understand why it is on everyone’s bucket list. Another disclaimer, all of these trails were pretty crowded due to their popularity but everyone is so kind & happy to share the paths. Once we made it back to flat ground we swung by Curry Village to grab lunch from the Meadow Grill before driving back to our cabin. Dad & I both got the Crispy Chicken Sandwich with fries while Alec got a hotdog. It was the perfect amount of food to tide us over before dinner & give us back some energy after an eventful day! When we got back to our Vrbo we all freshened up, hung by the fire, watched an Avengers movie, & enjoyed homemade bolognese that one of Alec’s friends made for us. The perfect end to our favorite day on the trip!




Day 5:


Saturday morning we grabbed breakfast from the Pine Street Market again, such a quaint local shop with the sweetest staff. After packing up our bags with all the gear we needed (including duck tape & super glue for my boot) we headed to Glacier Point to hike Taft Point & Sentinel Dome. Getting to Taft Point was a little muddy & snowy but overall pretty easy. Once we got there, we saw a ton of fissures + were able to get a great view of El Capitan from across the valley. After taking some of the most gorgeous shots of the valley + view we made our way over to Sentinel Dome (or at least tried to). We got a little lost & confused by the signs so we never actually made it to Sentinel Dome but did walk from Taft Point almost all the way to Glacier Point overlooking the valley which was breathtaking. Once we eventually made it back to the car we decided to go ahead and drive up to Glacier Point to see the entire view from the top. We are all so glad we did this because the view was incredible and a perfect 180 degree shot of Yosemite Valley. After we took in the view, we headed back to the tunnel view, parked, & walked to the secret tunnel (that we found thanks to TikTok). You have to walk on the sidewalk of the tunnel on the side of the cars leaving the valley so it is quite loud & a little scary but worth the thrill for a cool view & experience. Unfortunately the gate was locked so we weren’t able to climb out & see much but still fun to say the least. After going on our short little millennial adventure we went back to our cabin & got ready for dinner. We decided to go out to eat at Jackalope’s Bar & Grill located inside the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. We started off with Jack’s Buffalo Wings which were pretty spicy while Dad drank a Rattlesnake Rita & Alec had an old fashioned. To eat I got the grilled cheese with tomato basil soup while Dad & Alec ate the turkey & bacon cheddar melt with fries. It was all so tasty and filling by the time we got back to our cabin we were exhausted & all ready for bed.




Day 6:

Sunday morning we had to be out of our Vrbo by 10am + we had to get dad to the Fresno airport for his flight so we were up & at ‘em early that morning. We packed up, cleaned up, followed all of the host’s departure instructions then said goodbye to our cute cabin. It was about an hour and a half drive from Wawona to the airport, so we continued binge listening to The Oral Telling of The Office while reminiscing on our wonderful trip! After saying our goodbyes & dropping off dad at the airport, Alec & I stopped at Canes (our new obsession) for lunch to go before heading back home.


 

What to wear


Tuesday’s travel outfits-

B: teal joggers + star wars graphic tee (may the 4th be with you!)


Wednesday’s hiking outfits-


Thursday’s hiking outfits-


Friday’s hiking outfits-


Saturday’s hiking outfits-


Sunday’s travel outfits-

A:


Hiking shoes-


Hiking socks-


Both Alec & I carried our own backpacks during each of our hikes with all the essentials needed-



 

Where to stay


Sequoia-Airbnb


Our first Airbnb was super quaint & unique with an old timey vibe + was in the perfect location! It was nice & roomy and had 2 bathrooms which made our stay much more comfortable, we just wish we had hot water.



Yosemite-Vrbo


Our second Vrbo was a cute cabin vibe with the best fireplace, perfect for roasting marshmallows & staying warm when the sun went down. Totally wish there was more than one bathroom but other than that this was a great place for "glamping."




Other places to stay



 


 


 

Where to eat


Three Rivers (about 20 minutes outside of Sequoia National Park)

Breakfast


Lunch/Dinner


 

Yosemite

Breakfast


Lunch/Dinner


 


What to do


We use the AllTrails website to help us find & pick our hikes based on length, difficulty, & location. They have so many great options & helpful resources for hikes all over North America.


These are the hikes we did in Sequoia National Park & Yosemite National Park.


We also rented a Toyota Rav Four through Expedia to drive from Redondo Beach to Sequoia National Park then to Yosemite National Park & back home again.




Between Sequoia & Yosemite National park you really can't go wrong. Both are beautiful, exciting, & challenging in their own ways. Sequoia definitely had more gorgeous trees & wonderful facilities throughout the park. While Yosemite had more grand sweeping scenic views + a little cooler weather which was nice for hiking & sightseeing. Honestly if you're in the area & can hit both parks, we highly recommend it. Happy hiking!!


xo,

the stegalls





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