Winter Comes to Giant Forest

General Sherman Tree With Snow

[photo source:]

As a series of storms are crossing over California, they bring snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Chains may be required to go into the higher elevations of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. For information about the currant conditions, go HERE.

Contributor: Elsah Cort of Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast

2014 Facebook Photo Contest from Sequoia National Park

The official facebook page for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will open the voting for the 2014 contest next week. You will need to “like” the page to be able to vote. Over 100 photos were submitted this year. Winners will be announced around February 21.

The Park Staff will set up a Facebook Photo Contest Album for the contest and fans can “Like” as many photos as they want as their votes. The number of photos for the “Fan Favorite” category could be limited based upon quality, appropriateness of the photo, and number of submissions.


[photo via Sequoia-and-Kings-Canyon-National-Parks]

Walking the Kaweah Lake Bed

During the late summer, the fall and early winter months before the rains come again, Lake Kaweah offers some pleasant walking options in the dry lake bed. Part of the original highway route is still intact and you can walk along dirt road trails. Park at the Slick Rock Recreation Area for a $4 a day use fee ($2 for seniors, $15-30 for an annual pass), and walk across the lake bed toward the dam and boat marina for 1-5 miles. Because Lake Kaweah is a flood control lake, the Kaweah River swells with the Sierra snow melt and fills up to become the lake.

Fishing, camping and boating are also available.

Lake Kaweah © Elsah Cort

Looking back toward Slick Rock, Sequoia National Park and Moro Rock in the background
Photos © Elsah Cort

Lake Kaweah © Elsah Cort  Lake Kaweah © Elsah Cort  Lake Kaweah © Elsah Cort

About Lake Kaweah (via

Lake Kaweah is a reservoir near Lemon Cove in Tulare County, California. The lake is formed by Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River. The river originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains and drains about 560 sq mi (1,500 km2) into Lake Kaweah. From Lake Kaweah, the river flows toward the city of Visalia, splitting into the Kaweah River and St. Johns River as it flows west into the Tulare Lakebed. The lake has a capacity of 185,000 acre·ft (228,000,000 m3). A project to raise the lake 21 ft (6.4 m) was completed in 2004. The lake now impounds an additional 42,000 acre·ft (52,000,000 m3) and downstream flood protection to downstream communities and agricultural land has been increased. Because its primary purpose is flood control, Lake Kaweah is maintained at a very low level or empty for most of the year, and generally only fills between May and June. Due to the limited capacity of the reservoir, large spills of floodwater often occur after large rain storms. Water is sometimes released as quickly as possible to maintain flood-storage space in the reservoir. During floods in 1997, the reservoir filled and emptied twice because of this operation regime. Past Lake Kaweah is the small town of Three Rivers, which sits at the main entrance to Sequoia National Park.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Box 44270
34443 Sierra Drive
Lemon Cove, CA 93244-4270
Phone: (559) 597-2301

contributor: Elsah Cort from Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast

Hidden Gardens Tour in Three Rivers on April 16

The Hidden Gardens of Three Rivers Tour is sponsored by the Three Rivers Union School Foundation, as a fundraiser for the local school, currently facing severe budget challenges. Six foothill gardens will be open to the public for this self-guided tour.

Actor, William Shatner, has graciously offered to share his beautiful Belle Reve Ranch for this one day special event. Guests will be able to visit his riverside Indian spirit gar…den and Little Grant’s Grove, in their beautiful natural settings along the South Fork of the Kaweah River.

Local artists, musicians, and a “Taste of Three Rivers,” provided by local restaurants will be offered at each garden, along with volunteers and docents, via the local Redbud Garden Club, will help guide you through the garden.

You can also enjoy the local wildflower bloom along your way.

The other five gardens on the Hidden Gardens Tour include
•a tropical garden, with hand-carved tikis, waterfalls, and an outdoor movie theater;
• an authentic early California garden and lavender farm, on a property with an historic adobe home
•a traditional terraced English country garden, complete with art studio and sunset views
•an expansive riverside garden, adjacent to a stunning South Fork waterfall, with a tour of the owners’ home, which was designed and built to the North Star
• a spiritual retreat garden where lawn and flowers meet oaks and granite.

Tickets are $35 each, available at Chumps in Three Rivers or online at You will be able to exchange your ticket for a packet with a name badge, map and directions to each garden a week before the Tour at the Three Rivers Union School from 4-5:30 pm on Mon-Fri, or at Chump’s from 11-8 pm. Packets will also be available on the day of the Tour from 10- 1 pm at the school. Both Chump’s and the school are located on Hwy 198 in Three Rivers.

For more information, call Pam Lockhart at 559-471-6624.

Sequoia Speaks Series Returns

The winter “Sequoia Speaks” series of weekly lectures and presentations starts on January 29. Discover the untold stories of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks through the explorations and experiences of scientists, artists, and historians. This series is resented by the National Park Service. See dates and topics below image.

All programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at the Three Rivers Arts Center on North Fork Drive in Three Rivers.


SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2011  7-8 pm
Climate is Changing and So Must We
Accelerated changes in climate and its impacts to water and ecosystems are already being observed in many parts of our planet, including the Southern Sierra Nevada, and more are projected. In the face of these unprecedented global changes, past conditions no longer provide us with sensible management targets. What are land managers to do? The future is uncertain, forcing us to think and act in fundamentally new ways. Koren Nydick, Science Coordinator, will address what the National Park Service and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are doing to meet this challenge head-on.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2011   7-8 pm
Shifting Water Dynamics in the Sierra Nevada National Parks and their Consequences
Meet Jennie Skancke, the Sierra Network’s new physical scientist, and discover what profound implications warming temperatures and shifts from snow to rain in the Sierra Nevada will have for resources in the national parks and for state water management. Find out how anticipating and documenting these changes will allow the National Park Service resource managers and state water managers to focus their restoration or protection efforts.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2011   7-8 pm
Fire in the National Park Service: An Evolving Relationship
Patterns of fire occurrence in the Sierra Nevada are governed by biological factors, such as plant species composition and fuel production, and environmental and physical factors, such as topography, weather, and climate. Global climate change is likely to cause changes to these patterns. Tony Caprio, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park’s fire ecologist will look at past and contemporary patterns and consider how they may change in the future.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2011  7-8 pm
Taking the Long View: park biologists and citizen scientists working together to monitor alpine plant communities
Join Park Plant Ecologist, Sylvia Haultain, on a stunning photographic tour of the plants and animals that live above treeline. She will highlight the parks’ participation in the international Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) network and the newly established High Sierra monitoring sites in the Mt. Langley area. Discover an exciting new program that engages you, citizen scientists, in documenting changes in the timing of life cycle events of local plants. Your observations can contribute to our understanding of local climate change effects.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2011  7-8 pm
A Legacy of Joseph Grinnell: predicting the future from the record of the past
Joseph Grinnell, the founding director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC-Berkeley and an influential naturalist of the early 20th century, began his career at the museum with this vision: “…the greatest purpose of our museum…will not be realized until the lapse of many years, possibly a century…and this is that the student of the future will have access to the original record of vertebrate conditions in California.” Grinnell’s vision stemmed from his concern for the loss of nature habitats, but today we also face climate change.
Join Jim Patton, Curator and Professor Emeritus, from the University of California, Berkeley in his discussion of the Grinnell Resurvey Project. This project began in 2003 and centered along the length of the Sierra Nevada as a realization of Grinnell’s early vision. He will detail the changes in range distributions of small mammals and birds over the past century, discuss the potential forces underlying these shifts, and address the likely future for several of our most iconic terrestrial vertebrate species.

For more information, please call 559-565-4212.
Image source:

Respect the River

A letter to Three Rivers’ visitors
from John and Sarah Elliot Publishers of the Kaweah Commonwealth

We would like to talk frankly with you about our town’s namesake: the three rivers. Most likely, the Kaweah River is why you are here. It is certainly the principal reason why we live here. The Kaweah River is sacred. It is the lifeblood of this community and serves as either the focal point or backdrop in everything we do. The residents of Three Rivers respect the river and understand its power.  The river rules; we can never rule the river.

(photo source

This time of year, river issues take precedence in all that most residents think about or do. Please know that the Three Rivers community wishes to share this awesome natural resource with you, but there is some critical information that you should know.  Most importantly, this entire community mourns when a visitor succumbs to the forces of the river. Whether it’s the witnesses, the heroic locals who will attempt to save you, the first responders, the volunteer ambulance crew, or even the newspaper staff who must convey the devastating story, many people are deeply saddened by such a tragedy. And multiple drownings occur in the Kaweah River every year. You must never, ever underestimate the power of this waterway or it will take your life away in an instant.

Also, even if the sight of the refreshing water proves irresistible on a hot day, please respect private property and “No Trespassing” signs. If you do properly access the river and spend time along its shores, please carry out what you carried in. This is an unincorporated community with no scheduled trash pickup or routine upkeep at local river sites. You were obviously drawn here by the unique beauty, so consider it your personal responsibility to keep the waterway pristine for the next visitor by properly disposing of your beer and soda cans, food containers, cigarette butts, and your children’s dirty diapers. (Read the rest of the story here.)

Celebrating 70 Years for the Sequoia Natural History Association

Sequoia Natural History Association
“Celebrating 70 Years” Partnership Weekend
April 23, 24, 25,  2010

The first member gathering was at the Ash Mountain Headquarters in 1988. In 2010, we are bringing it back as we “Celebrate 70 Years”. Please join us for this special and exclusive event, dedicated to our SNHA members only. The programs will fill up quickly. Special activities will require smaller group sizes and are on a first-sign up, first registered basis. Deadline to register is April 9th, 2010. An itinerary packet will be mailed to you confirming your activity availability.

Friday, April 23 Park Partner Mixer – join the SNHA staff and members of the board of directors for an intimate reception and open conversation at the Ash Mountain Recreation Hall. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages will be served and an array of appetizers from “Around the World”.  Then, sit back and enjoy “Tracking the first Sierra Mountaineers: from Clarence King to Norman Clyde”- author Daniel Arnold will present slides and stories from his new book Early Days in the Range of Light.  Arnold spent four years retracing the routes of the original Sierra mountaineers.  In the spirit of his predecessors, he used only rudimentary equipment–no ropes, no harnesses, no specialized climbing shoes. In an artful blend of history, biography, nature, and adventure writing, along with dozens of photographs, Arnold brings to life both the journeys and the stunning terrain. 5:30pm to 7:30pm, $25 per person, limited to 40 guests

Saturday, April 24th (this is a entrance fee-free day!)
Tracking the Trail Day Hike
– join a SFI naturalist for a mid-morning walk in Giant Forest following the tracks of of local critters. 9:30am to 11:30am, limited to 14 members attending the dinner & member event.

Junior Ranger Family Day –  hosted by NPS and located at Hospital Rock, check out the hands-on exploration stations that provide a glimpse into the jobs of park rangers & cave naturalists.  Not just for kids! 10:00am to 2:00pm, free and open to all park visitors

Historic Tour of Park Headquarters
– join park experts as they introduce you to the working heart of the national parks, Ash Mountain Headquarters. 2:30pm to 4:00pm, free for members attending the dinner  & member event

Dinner & Member Event
– SNHA staff will transform Park Headquarters to a delightful dinner for our members.  Listen to the river roll by as we reminisce the good times of the past 70 years.  Guest speakers, free gifts, an exclusive, after-hours visitor center sale, tour of the SNHA office and more.  Dinner Menu: beef brisket, tomato-basil pasta, roasted veggies, garden salad, rolls & birthday cake 4:00pm to 7:00pm, $22 adults, $5 children, limited to 125 guests.

Under the Night Sky – check out the constellations and hear a tale or two about the legends of the night sky. Program will be held in the Ash Mountain area. 8:30pm, free for all SNHA members.

Sunday, April 25th
Foothills Wildflower Walk – spring is the ideal season to stroll the foothills of the Sierra. Flowers blooming, birds chirping as you gander with an expert in Sierra Nevada flora. 9:00am to 11:00am, limited to 14 members attending the dinner & member event

Breakfast & Barge Tour – enjoy a light breakfast and hop aboard a barge as you tour Lake Kaweah with a naturalist.  Learn the natural history of the area and observe wildlife from the water. 9:00am to 11:30am, $20.00 per person, limited to 15 people.

Call 559.565.4222 for more information. 
Become a member
of the Sequoia Natural History Association.

(photo from SNHA website)

Truth in Advertising…about the natural world

The National Parks Traveler asked on twitter: what’s wrong with this “Sequoia National Park” drawing on the back of a box of Safeway brand Rice Pockets Cereal?

“The answer is that it isn’t in a national park at all. If you could make out the writing on the sign on the tree in the drawing, you would read “Chandelier Tree.” That tree is located in Underwood Park (aka “Drive-Thru Tree Park”) in Leggett, California. That puts it about 450 miles northwest of Sequoia National Park. That’s not all, the Chandelier Tree isn’t even a Giant Sequoia. It’s a Coast Redwood.”

Read the full story by Jess Stryker of the National Parks Traveler here.
Follow the National Parks Traveler on twitter.

I remember driving through this tree in Northern California
(when I was a kid in the 1950’s.)

Sequoia Speaks Series

This year, the Ken Burns’ ‘America’s Best Idea’ series captured the imagination of the entire nation. Discover the untold stories of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks  through the explorations and experiences of scientists, artists, and historians. Three Rivers Arts Center, 7-8 pm. All programs are free and open to the public.

Diggin’ the Parks: Archeology and the National Park Service
Come learn more about the role archeology plays in the National Park Service and more specifically, in your parks: Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Park Archeologist Jane Allen will describe what archeologists do and what can you do to help maintain archeological resources when you’re visiting the parks.

Science in the National Park Service: An Evolving Relationship
Join David Graber, Pacific West Region Chief Scientist, as he explores how science has informed park management and interpretation over the decades and how that evolution continues today.

Women in the National Parks
Since the inception of the national parks, women have played a critical role in mission development, day-to- day operations, and living legacy. From early residents to national policymakers, Adrienne Freeman, Acting Public Affairs Specialist, will share stories of women who have shaped the picture of the modern day park service. Join us immediately following this presentation as we welcome Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first female superintendent, Karen Taylor Goodrich.

A Transect—Due East

Join artist and San Joaquin Valley native Matthew Rangel in his discussion of original lithographs inspired by his pilgrimage from the valley floor, through the foothills, and up to the high reaches of the Great Western Divide of the Southern Sierra.

Due East from Moro Rock ©Matthew Rangel

National Parks in a Changing World
Since 1872, national parks have been dedicated to the dream that they could protect forever the resources within them. In other words, they would be places that would never change. But what does promise mean now in a world dominated by processes like global climate change? To explore this thought-provoking question, local author Bill Tweed will present some key ideas from his new book Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks, to be published later this year by the University of California Press.


For more information, please call 559-565-4212.
Sequoia Speaks is presented by the National Park Service.

The Three Rivers Arts Center is on North Fork Drive,
a short way from the Hwy 198 turnoff.

Loving this Place

“I love this place.

From my yard today, I could see snow on the mountains and hills above me, so beautiful it almost took my breath away. I live on the fringe of wilderness, and the wild creatures are a treasured part of my life.  It is their place even more than mine.

An early sign of fall is the many tarantulas that come out and about, looking for mates. In apple season, I have watched a brown bear sitting under my apple tree, just outside of my solarium, calmly enjoying the fruit. I’ve seen many deer resting in the shade of my back yard in the summer, while alligator lizards do pushups on the sunny boulders.  Skunks leave scented calling cards, and raccoons wash their food in the cat’s water dish.  Tracks and scat report the presence of shy animals that we see only occasionally: bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and even cougars.

There are many birds. Some are migratory, especially small song birds that stay for a few days or weeks and move on. The Kaweah River is named after the Indian word for raven, and those intelligent birds are seen all around the area. Hawks scream above, and eagles can sometimes be seen soaring over the lake. Blue herons and white egrets collect in the wetlands.  Flocks of wild turkeys frequent certain neighborhoods, and everywhere local quail herd their many broods of chicks. The haunting calls of owls mark the night. Raucous scrub jays squabble for food and territory.

As winter approaches, woodpeckers beat their brains out hammering acorns into oak trees.  One creative couple has taken over a nearby metal power pole, dropping their acorns into a hole near the top, causing pinging sounds as the acorns travel downward.  It they keep it up enough years, perhaps the pole will sprout an oak tree?”

from the Christmas letter of artist, Mona Fox Selph,
one of the 21 artists on the Three Rivers Artists’ STUDIO TOUR 9,
coming this March 19-20-21 in Three Rivers. Tickets on sale now.

Tree Shadows, oil ©Mona Fox Selph

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