Much of North Texas is flat, flat, flat allowing you to see for miles. The wide open blue skies filled with puffy white clouds are beautiful. However, there are many more beautiful terrains to see. Lately, the moutains have been calling my name. We had to get away. So we packed up our things, flew to California, and rented a car to visit two of it’s best known national parks.
“The moutains are calling and I must go.”
– John Muir
Yosemite National Park Getting There: If you’re flying into California, Sacramento has closet major airport for the area. The parks are an easy 2 hour drive south from here. Tip: Book your car rental and hotel through through the airline to earn airline mileage.
Where to stay: We didn’t want to camp nor did we want to stay in a typical hotel. So we choose to stay at the Sierra Sky Ranch. At, only 20 minutes from Yosemite Park, in town of Oakhurst, the Sierra Sky Ranch has an excellent location! All the food, groceries, and gas that you need is just 10 minutes down the hill. This historical ranch has been renovated into a family friendly lodge. The room were neat and clean, wifi superb, with a complimemtary breakfast offered. The decor set the tone for the moutain views perfectly! We will definitely stay here again.Where to eat: We loved getting fresh Sandwiches from Barnetts Meat & Deli located in Oakhurst. These were excellent to take into the Park each day for lunch. (Our personal favorites were the Tri-Tip and Pastrami Ruben.)
What to do: Go see Yosemite, of course! During the winter hours, only the main road is open. However, there are still beautiful sights for you and your family to see in the valley. (All without bugs and insects to bother you!) Wind your way through to see, Dome Rock, El Captain, Bridal Veil Waterfall, Upper Yosemite Waterfalls, and more! Special shoes are not necessary as there are many paved trails to follow. However, if you go off the trail for any reason, I recommended hiking boots or shoes. We spent 2 days exploring these sights with our 7 year old. we didn’t feel rushed at all. If the roads are not closed, you can see more, just check the website before you go.
Tips for going with kids: Jocelyn often felt motion sickness as the are wound up and down around the moutain roads. We purchased Sea Bands to wear on her wrist. This kept her from feeling car sick and made everything enjoyable.
Is your child approaching or currently in the 4th grade? Children (ages 9 to 11) and their families can obtain a FREE pass to all US National Parks. www.everykidinapark.gov to learn more and get a free Family Pass.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National ParkOut of all the National Parks we’ve visited, the Sequoia National Park is my all time favorite due to the giant Sequoia Trees. I could stay here forever.
Where to stay: Camp inside the park or stay in a hotel in nearby Three Rivers. It’s not very built up, but it will do. If you need to stay in a large(r) city, Visalia is the place to stay. However, you’ll add 45 minute drive to to reach the park entraace by staying here. Keep thus in mind when you gave kids. The less time in a car, the better. However, Visalia has better food options.
Where to eat? Sequoia Park has a few dining locations, but they are pricey! Instead, we choose to eat breakfast at the hotel, and then stopped by Anne Langs for sandwiches, drinks, and chips to bring into the park with us. Once you’re finished, there are a few diners to eat at for dinner. *Please note: Most restaurant close at 9pm in Three Rivers. Plan accordingly!
What to do? Stroll through the Giant Forest among the Sequoia Trees. Drive through Tunnel Log, a tree so big they had to cut a hole in it’s side so the cars can go through. Climb Moro Rock and stare in wonder at the moutain peaks. No special shoes or equipment is needed to do this. Remember to take your camera and bottle of water. Drive up to Wolverton Lodge and play in the snow. Go Horseback riding at Kings Lodge. Have a picnic lunch in Crescent Meadow while listening to it’s babbling brooks. Visit the Museum to learn even more about the giant Sequoia Trees. Of course, there is so much to do and see, even during the Winter months.
For the kids: As soon as you enter the park, go to the Visitor Center and pick up a free activity book. Children came learn more about their parks plants and animals, while completing fun activities. Be sure to visit one of the 3 other centers to allow your child to show your activity book to the Forest Ranger. Grin with delight as they become deptuized as Junior Forest Rangers. They even get a cute badge!
There are so many places and ways to spend quality time with your little ones. A trip to one of the many national parks is one that the whole family will enjoy.