Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park
By Kevin Ausmus
Why You Must Go: The 102-room Wuksachi Lodge is open year-round and is located just two miles from Lodgepole Campground and the beautiful Kaweah River. It is especially family-friendly, with huge rooms and enough bedding to accommodate broods of six and even more. When you wake up in the morning, you it is very common to see deer from your window, and there will be an all-you-can-eat-breakfast buffet waiting for you. From there, you can catch the eco-conscious Sequoia Shuttle down to the Forest of the Giants, the General Sherman Tree (by mass, the largest tree in the world) or Lodgepole Village (the shuttle does not go to Crystal Cave). Activities in Sequoia such as bird-watching and hiking are aplenty, with enough trails to accommodate all skill (and stamina) levels. One must see is Tokopah Falls—it’s a relatively undemanding 3.5-mile round trip hike east of Lodgepole Campground, but it’s a spectacular waterfall—and it’s particularly well-liked by kids. Afterwards, instead of throwing down a sleeping bag on a dusty tarmac, you can run a bath and soak for hours. Wuksachi also has special little features like campfire stories, stargazing and yoga classes . . . plus wireless Internet access in the common areas for those of you who like to get away but too far away. The Wuksachi is also noted for its fine dining (advance reservations required). Note: Be sure to bring an extra $20 to pay the rangers at the Sequoia Park entrance for your 1-7 day wilderness pass.
Wuksachi Lodge, 64740 Wuksachi Way, Sequoia National Park, (599) 565-4070 or (888) 252-5757, www.visitsequoia.com. Rates vary with season and number of guests; summer rates from $200-$400
Where to eat: Wuksachi offers breakfast, lunch and dinner but it can be a bit pricey, especially for a large family. Lodgepole Market has some provisions (mostly for campers), a good selection of beer, a snack bar and a deli. But a better bet would be the Wolverton All-You-Can-Eat Bar-B-Que. It’s $20 for adults and $10 for kids, and they serve up ribs, chicken, hamburgers, corn on the cob and fruit pies. At 7:30PM a Park Ranger arrives to regale everyone with stories of Sequoia.
What Else To Check Out: Did you know that is such a thing as “Little Baldy”? There is indeed and it’s a short 10-minute drive from Wuksachi. At 3.5 miles round trip it’s short and sweet and the former fire lookout has an absolutely gorgeous mountain top view. Warning: It’s in a mountain lion habitat and solo hiking is not recommended.