It soon will be a bit easier to get around the heart of Sequoia National Park. Beginning next Thursday, May 27, the Giant Forest shuttle system will crank back into operation for the summer season.
This marks the fourth season for the shuttle buses, which offer visitors an easy way to explore the Giant Forest sequoia grove and surrounding areas.
Using the shuttle reduces driving, parking hassles, and air pollution. You can watch the scenery instead of the road. It also lets you park, take the shuttle, and walk a trail back to your car. An estimated 40-50,000 car trips were eliminated last year when people chose to use the shuttle.
Several changes are in store for the system this year: Three hybrid-electric shuttles are being added to the fleet. The in-park shuttle will extend past Wuksachi Lodge to Dorst Campground when the campground is open. On holiday weekends, use of private vehicles on the narrow Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road will be limited during shuttle operations. In addition, the shuttle from Visalia is adding a stop the La Quinta Hotel in Visalia and the Barn Service Station near Exeter on Highway 198.
As in years past, the Giant Forest Route runs along the Generals Highway from the Giant Forest Museum to Lodgepole Visitor Center. It stops along the way at the wheelchair-accessible trail to the General Sherman Tree as well as at the main Sherman Tree Parking and Trail.
Another route follows the narrow Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road from the Giant Forest Museum to Moro Rock’s staircase and the picnic area at Crescent Meadow. Due to significant delays from traffic congestion on busy weekends, limitations on private vehicles using the road during shuttle hours are being phased in this year. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of three holiday weekends (Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day), only those with handicapped placards and wilderness permits for the High Sierra Trail may take vehicles on this side road while the shuttle is operating.
A third shuttle route will now connect the Lodgepole Visitor Center and Campground to Wuksachi Lodge and Restaurant. A new stop, Dorst Campground, will be added to this route when the campground opens in late June. For details, see www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/ parktransit.htm
The shuttles will operate daily through September 20th, between approximately 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., depending on the route. All buses are wheelchair accessible. Shuttle users are encouraged to park in the lot across the main road from the Giant Forest Museum, at the Main Sherman Tree Trail parking area, the lot just inside Lodgepole Campground, or at Wuksachi Lodge. Drinking water is not available along the Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Route, so consider bringing a water bottle.