Summer is the definitely the high season in the national parks, and at Sequoia National Park that means lots of family activities, ranging from campfire programs to scanning the night skies to learn a little about astronomy.
Beginning May 31 and running through Labor Day, Wuksachi Lodge and the Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA) will be working together to present a variety of programs that promise to have visitors seeing stars and much more.
* Once upon a time, young park employees held evening dances inside Sequoia’s Beetle Rock building. In the life-affirming spirit of the Giant Forest, this year SNHA will reopen the doors to Beetle Rock for its Big Trees Barn Dance.
Though not a true barn, the allure of the 1940s-era building lives on. SNHA interpreters will provide basic dance instruction and period music, and would-be dancers need only bring the magic. The dance takes place every Saturday night from June 22 through Aug. 31. Doors open at 6 p.m.; cost is $5 per person (no refunds). Tickets may be purchased at Giant Forest Museum or the Lodgepole Visitor Center up to three days in advance. Alcohol is not permitted inside or outside of the building.
* With virtually no light pollution, few locations in California offer better night sky viewing than Sequoia National Park. In fact, USA Today recently named Sequoia one of 10 national parks that boast some of the best nighttime skies. Learn the basics of backyard stargazing, hear ancient and cultural stories about the constellations, and experience an awe-inspiring evening during Wonders of the Night Sky. Or discover just how much can be seen from Earth’s galaxy by peeking through binoculars and telescopes (provided) during Beyond the Naked Eye. Both programs take place at Wuksachi Lodge. Inquire at the front desk or call (559) 565-4070 for times.
The popular Full Moon on Moro Rock offers a unique introduction to the moon. After gradually ascending 400 steps to 6,725 feet elevation, guests gather at the massive rock’s summit to watch the full moon rise over the Great Western Divide as an interpreter from the Sequoia Field Institute (the educational division of SNHA) discusses the moon’s features. Participants should bring a flashlight for the walk and are encouraged to bring binoculars.
Moro Rock is about a 15-minute drive from Wuksachi Lodge, and the moderate 1/3-mile journey to the top takes about 20-30 minutes. Actual program time is one hour. Start times and dates:
* June 22, 8 p.m.
* July 22, 8:15 p.m.
* August 20, 7:30 p.m.
* September 19, 7:15 p.m.
* October 19, 7 p.m.
* Free guided nature walks are also an excellent way to get acquainted with Sequoia in summer. On July 6 and July 15, bird lovers can try their skills at identifying song birds in the Sierra during the Family Birding Walk.
On July 9 and 23, join up for the Clover Creek Critters Walk for hands-on discovery of local fish and insects. Learn some of the funny and interesting adaptations these critters have made to survive and thrive in the water. For ages 5 and up; children must be accompanied by an adult. Walks typically depart from Wuksachi Lodge but are subject to change. Inquire at the front desk or call (559) 565-4070 for times.
* Beginning June 14, the nightly Wolverton Living History BBQ Dinner beckons hungry guests to enjoy all-you-can-eat feast of pork ribs, chicken, burgers, hot dogs and more. Performances by Living History storytellers take everybody back to the pioneering days of the Old West. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind Sequoia experience at Wolverton Meadow can be purchased same-day at the Wuksachi Lodge or Lodgepole Market. The festivities begin at 6 p.m.
* Create even more family memories under the stars at the Kids Campfire, July 1 and July 15. Guests of all ages can bring marshmallows to roast while listening to stories about the people, animals and plants that make Sequoia famous around the world. This free one-hour program takes place at the Wuksachi Lodge campfire circle at Wuksachi Lodge. Inquire at the front desk or call (559) 565-4070 for times.
Alternatively, join the fun during More Than S’mores and learn how to use everyday foods from the supermarket and a variety of techniques to make a great camp dinner that everyone will enjoy. Meet at 7 p.m. on July 20 at the park’s Lodgepole Campground. Cost is $5 per person or $20 for a family of five – tastings included. Tickets may be purchased at the Lodgepole Visitor Center.
Sequoia National Park also offers the widest variety and number of ranger-led programs from late June through August. For park-wide programs listed individually by date, visit the park's Schedule of Events webpage.
For information on Wuksachi Lodge’s current vacation packages and availability or to book accommodations, go to VisitSequoia.com/Packages or call toll-free (866) 449-4902.