There are certain things you know but tend to forget in the most crucial moments.
After a two hundred mile drive from Los Angeles, we were happy to enter the Sequoia National Park.
After an obligatory photo with the official park sign, we stopped by the visitor’s center (important restroom stop).
In there, we found out the visitor’s center is located in an area called The Foothills. Turns out the giant Sequoias are located at a higher elevation area. We were at 1,000 feet over sea level. The Sequoias are at a 6,000 feet elevation. We had to ascend 5,000 feet to reach the Giant Forest!
So, important lesson to remember: National Park‘s main attractions may be located very far from the actual park entrance. We experienced the same situation when we visited Yosemite last year.
Well, at least, we were twenty miles from where we wanted to go. Oh, but forgot to mention those twenty miles turn into an eternity because they have like 40 curves that have to be taken at 10 miles per hour.
It was time to take it easy. The only option was to calm down, relax and enjoy the views while transiting slowly thru the main road.
That is how we noticed an almost spherical rock popping out in most of our photos. I first noticed it far away while taking pictures of the Kaweah River Canyon. Do you see it?
The rock got bigger and bigger as we were ascending. Can you see it now?
It was my first time visiting the park but I knew that was Moro Rock. Morro (with double “R”) means promontory in Spanish. Spaniards used that name frequently to refer to big rocks or forts. We have another notorious Morro Rock in California (in San Luis Obispo County).
The other thing I knew was that you are actually able to hike to the top of Moro Rock. Sounds crazy but it is true. Therefore, after losing our breath because of our first glimpse of the magnificent Sequoias, we took the shuttle to the base of the rock.
Moro Rock is a dome shaped granite monolith. It is located in the center of the park, at the head of Moro Creek, between Giant Forest and Crescent Meadow. A stairway, designed by the National Park Service and built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, is cut into and poured onto the rock, so that visitors can hike to the top. The view from the rock encompasses much of the Park, including the Great Western Divide.
The first set of stairs in the trail looked innocent enough. Things started to get a little bit more scary several meters ahead.
At the midpoint of the climb, there is a small space to rest and enjoy the views. After that, it is all the way up to the top.
The first stairway leading to the summit of Moro Rock was constructed of wood and installed in 1917. This stairway deteriorated significantly by the late 1920s, and was replaced in 1931 by the present Moro Rock Stairway. Unlike the earlier stairway, the new stairway adopted a design policy of blending with the natural surfaces to the greatest extent possible. The 797-foot-long stairway was designed by National Park Service landscape architect Merel S. Sager and engineer Frank Diehl, following natural ledges and crevices. It has 400 steps that lead to the summit of Moro Rock.
And, reaching that summit is something else. You have unobstructed views of pure wilderness.
I have mentioned many times how I am afraid of heights. Therefore, it is obvious I freaked out a little bit while going up. I even felt a bit dizzy and shaky.
However, the pain was rewarded with amazing vistas of valleys, granite formations, snowy peaks, colorful pines, cotton candy clouds and pockets of wildflowers. Those views are going to stay in my mind for a long time.
A lot of people go to this particular park to take a look at the big trees. Often, they are gone after walking the short, main trails that lead to the most famous trees. I more than understand this approach. Those Sequoias are more than astonishing. But, the park has much more things to offer (and I think the photos tell this better than a thousand words). I encourage any visitor to check out the Moro rock area. From up there, the true immensity of the park (and of the Sierra) is understood.
Here is a video my husband took from the top.
Would you like to climb to the top of Moro Rock?
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