Photo Friday: In the Sierra Nevadas

by jdroth on 10 April 2015 · 7 comments

Kim and I have spent the past week in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its foothills. We’ve been visiting her friends and family, and now have moved up the mountainside to explore Yosemite National Park. Here, then, is the weekly photographic review of our trip.

Last Friday (the tenth day of our trip) found us at home in Ione, east of Sacramento. Kim’s friend Susan offered to host us, so we parked in front of her house for a few days. We welcomed the chance to shower inside and access a full kitchen. Plus, it was fun to hang out with Susie and Fred on their porch every evening.

Susie and Kim get get caught up in Ione

While in Amador County, we also met up with Connie and Dale. On Saturday, the six of us drove north and east into the Sierra Nevadas, admiring the scenery on the way to Lake Tahoe. We never quite reached Tahoe, but we had a lot of fun anyhow.

The beautiful Hope Valley, high in the Sierra Nevadas

On Sunday, Kim and I played tourist in her home town, driving through the old gold rush settlements and stopping to tour the old mines.

The remains of Kennedy Mine in Jackson

One of the great parts about staying put for so long was that we got a chance to interact with the animals. We’ve played with Bozzy, Coco, Zeus, and Cedar, fine dogs all. We’ve petted a number of cats. And we’ve admired many birds and squirrels.

Kim plays with Coco, one of the many animals we've made friends with on this trip

Tuesday morning, we moved south to the edge of Yosemite National Park. We set up camp with Kim’s brother and his family in Groveland. Doug and Jenn sat around with us, sipping wine and chatting and playing with their son, Porter. In the afternoon, a thunderstorm set in. We hiked to the top of Doug and Jenn’s property to watch the lightning and to play with Porter.

Kim plays with her nephew, Porter, as a thunderstorm approaches

We celebrated Doug’s birthday on Wednesday night. He and Jenn own the Hotel Charlotte, a beautiful historic inn in downtown Groveland. They opened the hotel bar to family and friends for the festivities.

Justin and Doug, cousins

The next morning, we moved half an hour up the hill so that we’d be closer to the park for a few days. We also made our first foray into the Yosemite Valley, which is absolutely awe-inspiring.

Yosemite Falls in the Yosemite Valley

Internet continues to be spotty and slow, at best, but that’s okay. We’re not spending much time online these days. Mostly, we’re outdoors or hanging out with family and friends.

We intend to explore the Yosemite Valley for another couple of days before returning to Groveland for a more time with Doug and Jenn. Then we’ll head south to visit more of Kim’s family. But how will we get there? That’s the first real dilemma of the trip.

For our next leg, we want to visit Death Valley but the shortcut pass through Yosemite won’t open for weeks.

  • We could backtrack north through Tahoe and then swing south to Mammoth Lakes (and hot springs!).
  • Or we could drive south from here to Visalia, which would allow us to visit two National Parks (Kings Canyon and Sequoia). We’d travel from there to Lone Pine before hitting Death Valley.

Both routes would require three legs, and about ten hours and 475 miles of driving. We’re not sure which route we’ll choose. Any of you have suggestions?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 anna 11 April 2015 at 14:43

Both routes are really amazing – I love Sequoia and Kings Canyon. However, the ride down 395 is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. You have the massive escarpment of the Sierras to one side (it is a much much steeper drop on the eastern side), but you’re also almost in the desert. It’s a fabulous interstitial space, and of course, gives you easy access to Mammoth, Mono Lake, and Manzanar (a location perhaps not quite beautiful, more thought provoking). I don’t know if you’ve been to these areas much before, but if it’s simply one versus the other, I’d personally choose the loop north then down the eastern side.


2 mac 11 April 2015 at 15:12

Those are tough choices, I’ve been on both routes. Hot Springs are pretty much my favorite thing in the world… but I think Kings Canyon and Sequoia are more beautiful.


3 Andi 11 April 2015 at 17:30

I thought I heard a rumor that hot springs was the theme of the trip. Think my answer would be hot springs, then.


4 David 11 April 2015 at 19:45

You’re right in my backyard! I think you’ll find the actual drive down 395 more beautiful than coming down through the Central Valley. However, Kings Canyon and Sequia parks are wonderful. I may be biased, but I think they’re some of the most beautiful national parks.

I’m not sure if 180 is open all the way to the bottom of Kings Canyon yet. If it is, you should definitely make the trip all the way to Roads End of you go that way. The canyon opens up just like Yosemite as the upper portion was cut by a glacier also. There’s some great hiking and waterfalls.

If you go that to sequoia, check your overall rig length if you want to take 198. It’s restricted to vehicles less than 22′ total length because of many miles of very sharp switch backs. I took that drive just last weekend and I couldn’t always keep just my truck all the way in my lane at times. The Rangers will probably turn you around if you try.

Have fun and good luck no matter what way you choose!


5 David 11 April 2015 at 19:47

Oh! I forgot to mention that fresh produce is starting to be readily available on the road side stands – at least in the Fresno area. The strawberries are already wonderful!


6 Bruce 12 April 2015 at 06:25

I’ve done both on numerous occasions. I’d opt for Tahoe and down the 395. Lots of things to do…some mtn biking, Mono Lake (can kayak it as well), hot springs, mammoth lakes, etc. Really loads to do. If you opt on that route I can expand a bit.

If you head to Sequoia there is a vehicle length limit (I believe) on the 198 when you would be heading south and out of the park. Probably not an issue as you could unhook the mini. But the road does have hairpins and it is a fairly steep road so depending on your brakes and confidence in the motorhome as well. I’ve never driven anything other than a car so I just offer it as a heads up.


7 sue 12 April 2015 at 07:32

Kings canyon! I like it even more than Yosemite!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: