Hiking & Hijinks in the Majestic High Sierras – Family Camping in Sequoia National Park

We’re baaaaaack! Fully recharged, feeling rejuvenated and reconnected to this beautiful world we are blessed to call home. There’s something about being 6,700 feet up in the High Sierras that lifts my soul up, reminding me of just how grateful I am to have what I have and to do what I do and to be who I am, evolving and growing and mastering my awareness that I am always changing.

Hiking the Kaweah River Falls trail with toddler
Basking in the beauty of the Kaweah River Falls!

As is necessary when camping in Sequoia National Park during the summer months, we made our Lodgepole Campground reservations back in mid January and eagerly counted down the days. All One Hundred & Eighty of them! Fortunately, we had also planned a late spring camping trip to Big Sur as well, so we were able to bridge the seemingly infinite gap between trips. 

This marked our third trip to the high Sierras and we enjoy it a little more each time! Within minutes of entering the park’s main entrance, we were greeted by 3 deer crossing the canyon floor. Early the next morning we were treated to another deer having breakfast 10 feet from our campsite!

Deer in Sequoia

Then, we all watched in amazement as a gorgeous brown bear made it’s way across the rocky creek bed a mere 100 yards from our tents! We were all so caught up in the awe of the moment that none of even thought to grab our cameras, but when the momma bear showed up later to fish in the creek with her cubs, thank goodness Uncle Joey snapped some pictures!

Mama Bear with her Cub in Sequoia
Mama Bear with her Cub (Can you spot her cub?)

We walked the land that John Muir fought so passionately to preserve so that we could all drink the deep breath of its wild air. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees. The wind will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves,” he said and we did.

Hiking Tokopah Falls Trail with a toddler
Snack Break on the Tokopah Falls Trail

The more we camp with our toddler (this is her 4th camping trip), the more experience we gain, the more organized and prepared we become, the more we realize that we can do this….MORE! Thanks to our much smaller and more useful tent, our meticulously packed camping bins and tons of food prepared ahead of time, we were able to spend much of our days playing, exploring, discovering and taking lots of pictures!  

kid hiking
Frolicking through fields of wildflowers
kid hiking
Discovering hidden creek-side beaches
kid drawing in sequoia
Sketching the sweeping Sierra vistas
kid skateboarding
Learning how to skateboard with Uncle Joey
kid swimming with trout
Swimming with the Trout

On our last night, my hubby and I sat curled up next to a crackling fire, V tucked snugly into her sleeping bag, and we were already discussing how we are going to squeeze in another camping trip before the end of the summer! We can’t wait!

West Coast Campground Review – Sweet Summer Spots to Relax & Recharge!

We are so lucky to live in a place that is surrounded by so many wildly different geological marvels. Get in the car and go two hours in any direction away from Los Angeles and you can wind up in the wild, sand-swept desert, the exalted redwoods, rolling prairies full of wild flowers, a pristine island beach off the coast of the Pacific Ocean or the foothills of majestic mountains.

I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and I still feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of what California has to offer. I’m looking forward to the next 20, the discoveries and the old favorites, and I look forward to sharing them with you! Here are a few of our recent discoveries and a few old favs!

Limekiln State Park & Campground

View from our tent in Limekiln’s Upper Creek

I know! You’re all probably tired of hearing about Limekiln State Park and Campground, but it really is one of our favorite places in the world, so I would be remiss not to add it to the top of the list! This campground is intimate, with only 24 sites and is broken up into 3 parts, the Ocean Sites, the Lower Creek and the Upper Creek. Beware that beach camping sounds great, in theory, but those sites offer little shade and tons of onshore wind! Also, keep in mind that because of the thick canopy of redwoods lining the creek, both the upper and lower creek sites are pretty much in full shade most of the day and at night it gets downright chilly! More reason to get the fire going early! Limekiln is a very family friendly campground, not many partyers, and the constant white noise from the creek drowns out almost all unwanted noise from neighbors.
Warning: Watch out for the poison oak within the upper creek sites and on the trails!
Site fees are pretty lofty (about $35/night) comparatively, but just look at the stunning walk to the bathroom! Totally worth every dime! 
Not a bad view on a trip to the bathroom!

There are 3 hiking trails with in the park, The Hare Creek Trail, The Falls Trail and The Limkiln Trail. All are easy and breathtaking!
A banana break on The Falls Trail
Kirk Creek Campground
When Limekiln is full, we head to Kirk Creek Campground! It’s just down the road a bit and its scenery differs drastically from Limekiln. Situated right on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, most of the sites here offer breathtaking coastal views and not much shade, so bringing a canopy of some sort is recommended!

Camping with a view at Kirk Creek Campground

Site fees are more than reasonable at $22/night complete with a complimentary daily view of the gorgeous sunset! Also, while you’re there, take advantage of the quick and easy hike down to the rocky beach below the bluff.

The beach at Kirk Creek

Side Note: There are a TON of raccoon at this campground, but in all of the years we’ve been staying here, none have ever been aggressive or even tried to steal a bite of our tasty treats and they are a hoot to watch at night!

McGrath State Beach & Campground

We discovered this campground when looking for a quickie weekend getaway with one of our favorite camping families! McGrath State Beach and Campground in Oxnard is about an hour drive north of Los Angeles and getting a spot last minute was easy peasy!

McGrath State Beach, Oxnard, California

There are 174 developed campsites here and although it’s pretty cookie-cutter, it has all of the amenities; shade, toilets and fire ring. Site fees are $35/night and with the amount of sites on hand, walkins aren’t hard to come by. The beach is quite a hike from most of the sites, but it is gorgeous, so well worth it!

Leo Carrillo State Park & Campground

Leo Carrillo State Beach
This is another campground that is a quick jaunt north from Los Angeles! Head 30 minutes north, up the 101 freeway in to Malibu and you’re there, Leo Carrillo State Park and Campground! For its relative proximity to L.A., this campground offers more than you would expect; a gorgeous beach, tide pools, reefs, caves and even back-country hiking! Most of the 130 sites are nestled under giant sycamores and the facilities are well maintained, not bad for $45/night! 

Sequoia National Park / Lodgepole Campground

Come this July, we will be heading to Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park for our third visit! This park truly is stunning and a great place to witness all that Mother Nature has to offer. You can explore the Crystal Caves, go canoeing on Hume Lake, hike Moro Rock and see the great Continental Divide or you can simply sit on a rock next to the river and recharge!

The perfect spot for my morning coffee!

Here, the wildlife is all around you. On prior visits we awoke to deer grazing 100 yards from our tent,

Deer grazing in Sequoia

we spied on a brown bear as he caught his lunch in the Kaweah River which runs through the campground,

A brown bear looking for his lunch in Sequoia

and we watched an orchestra of spiders creating a massive sunset web among towering sequoias just to mention a few! It is one of our favorite places and only a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles!

Lodgepole Campground at Sequoia

This is one of those campground that fills up the day sites are released for reservation, 6 months in advance, so planning is imperative! Site fees are cheap at $20/night and the amenities here are stellar!

Side Note: If you are not familiar with camping in bear country, please do your research and be prepared, be smart and be respectful!

Yosemite National Park / Wawona Campground
Yosemite National Park was definitely on our bucket list and it should be on yours too and I feel so blessed to be able to say: Check!

The view from our camp site at Wawona in Yosemite!

We decided to stay just outside of Yosemite Valley, at Wawona Campground, away from the crazy crowds and where it’s a little cooler. Situated right on the Merced River our site view was breathtaking! For $20/night you get a shady and spacious site, situated right on the Merced River with breathtaking views! You can’t ask for anything better!

Having the time of our Lives!

This is, again, one of those places that takes some planning ahead. Campgrounds fill up immediately, even outside of the Yosemite Valley, a good 6 months in advance, so make your reservation today and enjoy the beauty and bounty of Mother Nature!

What’s your favorite campground?

Here are some more favorite North American Campground Reviews from my Outdoor Mom Blogger Network!

Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies – The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta

AKontheGO – Alaskans Share Their Favorite Campgrounds

Kid Project – Sandflats Recreational Area, Moab, UT

Brave Ski Mom – Best Campgrounds in North America: Western Colorado Edition

Climb Run Lift Mom – Camping at the City of Rocks

The Campsite – Top 5 Backcountry Campgrounds in Banff National Park

TravelingMel – Yellowstone Campground Review

Adventure Parents – Classic Campsites: Murphy Hogback Campground, Canyonlands National Park

Val in Real Life – North America’s Best Campgrounds: Elkmont 

GA Family Camping – North America’s Best Campgrounds: Cloudland Canyon

Adventurous Moms – North America’s Best Campgrounds: Dolly Copp Campground in Gorham, NH

Odyssey Outdoors – Best Family Campgrounds of WA