Are there any options for seeing sequoias in winter without chains?

Hey all,

So here’s the situation: my sister-in-law only wants to see one thing on vacation, and that’s sequoias. The problem is that the park site clearly states that you will almost certainly need chains in the winter in order to get to the part of the park that actually has all the trees. Chains just aren’t an option for us. I haven’t been able to find one rental agency ANYWHERE that allows chains to be put on a rental vehicle. (we’re driving a rental van.) is there ANY way to see ANY of those trees anywhere in January without needing chains?

Thanks to all the wonderfully smart people on here!! :slight_smile:

How about coast redwoods? Big Basin park is just outside Santa Cruz, an easy day trip from SF. Muir Woods is just north of the city.

Are you referring to Sequoia National Park in California? If that’s the park’s rules then that’s the park’s rules. But according to the NPS web site:

Unless you walk, snowshoe, x-country ski, or find a local driver and vehicle with chains and snow-driving experience, it’s not going to happen in January.

Charter a helicopter?

Or, tell the rental agency where you’d like to go and see if they have an option that’ll work.

IIRC, Sequoia Dendrogigantia only grows between 6000 and 8000 feet above sea level. However, the snow pack in Giant Forest can be extremely light in some years. I’ve seen and heard of years in which only six inches fell the entire winter and was gone by March 1. You might want to just call up to the Giant Forest Ranger Station and ask what conditions are. If the General’s Highway has been recently plowed, you may be fine if you want to just drive up to the Sherman Tree from Visalia, gawk for an hour or two, and then head back.

Oops, Duckster’s right. And the Rangers will make you pop the trunk to demonstrate that you do indeed have chains. Gimme a sec while I text my sister and pick her brain; she worked Road Patrol in Giant Forest in the late 1980s.

Yeah, if you’re thinking about heading to the Sierras in winter, you need to be prepared. I’ve been in Sequoia when it snowed on on Memorial Day weekend. There are several groves in Yosemite, but you’ll probably have the same issue with chains there. You might get away with a regular vehicle driving to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, but that’s probably a bit out of your way.

There are lots of places to see large Redwoods that don’t require chains, but they’re just not the same as Sequoias.

Well, they are sequoias, just S. sempervirens, not S. dendrogigantia.

How about snowmobile? Or snow-cat?


Ditto this. jasg beat me to it. There’s also Cowell Redwoods park, not far from Big Basin in the same general area, and also some redwood regional park areas in the East Bay hills. You could make a beautiful scenic day trip up Highway 1 as far as, say, the Russian River, then turn inland there and drive through redwoods in that area. There’s a redwood park with picnic areas, hiking trails, etc., just outside of Guerneville.

Try to convince your SIL that redwoods are in a class with sequoias.

Might it be OK to just carry the chains in your trunk, but not actually put them on? If the conditions are good maybe that will satisfy all parties - but it would mean you’d need to borrow or buy your own chains. You’d also be taking the risk that if there IS a freak snowstorm, you’d have to put on the chains and potentially risk the rental company finding out - but I’m not sure what the chances of that are, really.

I found a way!!! After much web research and spending lots of time on the phone. I talked to a ranger about options, and she gave me contact info for What they said was that we can go to 3 Rivers and then see what conditions are like for the next day. If chains are required, we can go on a van tour. :slight_smile:

Okay, wait for this one…

The ranger apologized for the amount of time that any caller had to spend navigating through the phone tree.

And I said…

“It’s like a SEQUOIA phone tree!”

(laughs and laughs)

(crickets chirp)

(tumbleweeds roll by)

Right—that’s what I was getting at. I’m looking at the web cam right now and I’m only seeing about eight inches of snow, and the road looks clear from the edge of Giant Forest, a five-mile drive to the Sherman Tree. And the road is clear at higher elevations; the stretch between Sequoia NP and King’s Canyon NP is completely cleared, which is a very good sign. As far as I can remember, if the road is plowed you can drive up there without putting the chains on, you just have to have them. However, if starts snowing, you’re SOL. Sister still hasn’t texted me back.

Oops—didn’t see Anise’s last post there. Go for the van tour. Parking’s a bitch everywhere in Giant Forest anyway.

Most erudite cops you will find on the face of the planet, bar none.

Go to the candy / ice cream shop in Three Rivers. It’s a lot of fun.

I don’t know what Muir Woods is like in the winter, but if it snows, forget about getting to the parks main entrance. Even with chains, the narrow, winding road would be an adventure. However, there are walking trails that you can enter the park from if you know your way around and have a map of the area. Again, however, if there is snow, ii guess walking trails are out.

Anyone out there know if it snows in Muir Woods?

Muir Woods is twelve miles from San Francisco. You might have trouble getting there, but that’s because of the crush of San Franciscans who go there on the weekends to Experience Nature and Natural Beauty, albeit on paved walkways and boardwalks. There will be no snow. I doubt if there’s been more than one inch of snow there in the last fifteen years. There will be coastal redwoods, which are the tallest trees on earth. They are technically the only sequoias. The giants in Yosemite are technically sequoiadendrons, not sequoias, which is a difference that could matter only to an arborist. If you’ve got a car, you’ll be just fine. Plus, you’ll get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge if you’re coming from SF.

The picture showing the roadway and four giants is the classic “Okay, we’re here!” moment coming into the park from Three Rivers. In a way it’s better to be a passenger on the drive up; you don’t have to worry about the winding road and slow people in RVs…you can sit back and enjoy the scenery.

I see the tour stops at Moro Rock. The hike up to the viewpoint is pretty cool, but the view these days is often obscured by a nasty haze hanging over the central valley.u

ps: In Three Rivers, the Pizza Factory is a decent choice for dinner.

That blonde girl who worked there back in the late 80s is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Just to keep the scientific names straight, snd I realize this is a bit nitpicky:

Giant Sequoias (AKA Big Trees, capitals required) = Sequoiadendron giIanteum. It was changed from Sequoia when dendrologists realized they were not part of the same genus, and Redwoods, having been named first, had priority rights to Sequoia.

Redwoods (“Coast” often prefixed but not mandatory) = Sequoia sempervirens

Along with the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) they constitute the Sequoia subfamily within.IIRC. the cypress family.

The “Cultivation” section of the Wikipedia article on Giant Sequoias (linked above) indicates that there are a lot of ‘young’ (100-150 years old) Big Trees scattered around the world, including Seattle and several other PNW locations, the Middle Atlantic states, England, Germany, Serbia, the Czech Rep., Victoria and NSW, and South Island in New Zealand. There’s something quirky about the idea of a 90-foot Giant Sequoia in Bristol, RI. :slight_smile: