Images from our epic 2,682-mile road trip through five national parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Pinnacles and Great Basin. Also featuring San Francisco, California coast, Cedar Breaks and Timpanogos Cave national monuments, Salt Lake City and Denver. June 22 – July 15, 2018.
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The famous “Painted Ladies” at Alamo Square Park were just a few blocks from our San Francisco hotel.
Golden Gate Bridge viewed from Buena Vista Park, the oldest park in the city.
Marshall’s Beach is a great place for views of the bridge. It’s also a nude beach, so watch where you point your lens 😉
Finally took a cable car ride. It’s touristy but fun. Alcatraz Island is in the background here.
Our first stop in Yosemite National Park was the Hetch Hetchy Valley. John Muir tried for years to save it from being flooded by a reservoir for San Francisco’s water supply.
Wapama falls drops 1,100 feet into Hetch Hetchy Valley. It’s an easy 5-mile round trip hike.
View of Half Dome while hiking up to the top of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. This trail is a killer, switchbacks for days.
This bobcat along the Mirror Lake Trail didn’t seem concerned by our presence at all.
Mirror Lake and Mt. Watkins.
The entire 2,425 ft of Yosemite Falls from the 4-Mile Trail leading to Glacier Point.
Half Dome, Nevada Falls and Vernal falls from the Panorama Trail just below Glacier Point.
The 594 ft Nevada Falls.
The Mist Trail between Nevada and Vernal Falls. This was the home stretch of a 14.4 mile hike.
Tunnel Tree is a giant sequoia in Mariposa Grove in the southernmost section of Yosemite.
Zumwalt Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park. An easy 1.5 mile loop trail leads through it.
Fly fishermen enjoying the Kings River near Cedar Grove Lodge.
We hiked a 12-mile round trip to the summit of Lookout Peak.
Kings Canyon viewed from the top of Lookout Peak. The summits in the background are up to 13,000 feet high.
We took a two-hour ride from the Cedar Grove Pack Station. Just the two of us and our guide.
Neil and Duke, Nick and Bud. (Bud wasn’t feeling so well that day.)
General Grant giant sequoia in Kings Canyon, the 3rd-largest tree by volume in the world. (267 feet tall)
General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park, the largest tree by volume in the world. (275 feet tall)
The bricks in the path represent the size of the Sherman Tree at its base.
Wall of giant sequoias in the Giant Forest.
Sequoia photos need humans in them for scale.
Mature sequoia in the background and a baby in the foreground, their appearance varies dramatically with age.
Hanging Rock overlooks the southern foothills of Sequoia.
Moro Rock as seen from Hanging Rock.
View toward the High Sierra peaks from Moro Rock.
Formations inside Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park.
Hiking up the High Peaks trail as part of a 10-mile loop in Pinnacles National Park.
Volcanic rock poking out of the hillsides in Pinnacles.
We’ve reached the High Peaks!
The top of High Peaks trail has some fun, narrow climbing sections.
High Peaks basking in early evening sun.
The second part of the hike took us down to Balconies Cave, a series of talus (fallen rock) caves that require flashlights.
The following morning we hiked to the Bear Gulch reservoir by way of the Moses Spring and Rim trails.
We stopped by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA and saw a road trip icon, Rocinante the camper from “Travels With Charley.”
We spent the night in Pacific Grove and took a quick spin down California Highway 1 to see the Bixby Creek Bridge.
Rocky coastline and tide pools in Pacific Grove, CA.
California Capitol in Sacramento.
Nevada Capitol in Carson City.
From Carson City to Great Basin National Park it’s a 7-hour drive across US 50, AKA the Loneliest Highway in America.
We rose early to summit 13.063 ft Wheeler Peak in Great Basin to avoid midday thunderstorms.
Flowers surviving some harsh high elevation conditions on Wheeler Peak.
View south over the Snake Range from Wheeler Peak.
Great Basin contains several groves of ancient Bristlecone pines, the oldest trees in the world.
Parachute Shield in Lehman Caves at Great Basin. This is probably the most ornately decorated cave we’ve toured.
Hummingbird getting its nectar on at Cedar Breaks National Monument.
Cutest chipmunk ever!
Crazy effects of erosion at Cedar Breaks.
Dusk view from our Campsite at the Point Supreme campground in Cedar Breaks.
The Milky Way comes into view!
Morning light highlighting the hoodoos.
Visiting Timpanogos Cave National Monument outside Salt Lake City requires a 1,000 ft climb up the side of this valley.
Ornate speleothems inside Timpanogos Cave.
The spacious interior of the Utah State Capitol is meant to evoke the openness of government. It also resembles a train station.
Mormon temple in Salt Lake City.
“Look at my wing” says this bird at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City.
The Utah Museum of Natural History has great exhibits explaining the history of geology and life in the Basin and Range region and the Colorado Plateau.
We took a break from the boredom of Interstate 80 across Wyoming and visited the lovely Snowy Range mountains along a scenic byway.
Bumblebee and Lavender at the Denver Botanic Garden.
We took the overnight Amtrak California Zephyr back to Chicago from Denver. This was our wakeup view in Southern Iowa.
We’ve now been to 51 of the 59 (or 60) National Parks, including all in the Continental US. Here are our 5 latest park additions along with two National Monuments.