SEQUOIA SPRING SPECTACULAR – 2017
A Bucket List Experience of Big Trees, Flower Power, Music & The Arts, History & Outdoor Adventures!
By Lisa D. Smith
Located in the heart of Central California’s Valley region, Tulare County is home to Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest.
Full of flower-powered color and lush from heavy winter snow and drenching rains, spring is an extraordinary beautiful time of year to visit the region and get your nature fix on! Savor the views of cascading waterfalls and verdant meadows rich with wildflowers. Catch a big adrenaline buzz whitewater rafting the high river rapids. Stare in awe at the giant sequoia trees, and breathe in the sweet fresh air as you hike or horse ride through the wilderness. Soak up some tranquility on a lazy afternoon lakeside. Spend the evening mesmerized by the brilliant display of glittering starlight.
From olives to table grapes, citrus to nuts, peaches and plums, the region is also well known for its agricultural production. Many of the local towns and cities like Visalia, Exeter, Porterville and Tulare have delightful historic downtown districts offering boutique shopping, delectable dining, art galleries, theaters and performance venues. Located at the entrance of Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers is a vibrant art community that hugs the edge of Kaweah River and stretches up into the foothills. Stop by the small ranching town of Springville on your way to Sequoia National Forest or Balch Park, and also visit the communities of Woodlake, Dinuba and Lindsay.
A lively hub of nature, agriculture, history and the arts, Spring in Tulare County, means “it’s time to celebrate!” From the Lindsay Orange Blossom Festival to the Exeter Garden Party, the Three Rivers Bathtub Race to and events and festivities that range from art walks to musical concerts, garden parties, festivals and parades.
BIG TREES, WILDFLOWERS & WATERFALLS
Of course, the big must-do when visiting Tulare County, is to experience the Giant Sequoia Trees in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, as well as in Giant Sequoia National Monument and the Sequoia National Forest. Lake Kaweah (host to the Three Rivers Bathtub Race on March 25) is another wonderful wildflower destination, as is Kaweah Oaks Preserve, between Exeter and Porterville.
Kings Canyon National Park – Spanning 461,901 acres, this park is made up of mostly wilderness, forests and spectacular canyons, with Kings Canyon itself being one of the deepest canyons in the United States. The park is known for being home to the General Grant Grove of giant sequoia trees, the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove which is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world. Starting in late spring or early summer, you can enjoy babbling brooks and waterfalls offset by towering granite cliffs, as well as lush meadows and glacial canyons. Learn more at (559) 565-334 or www.NPS.gov/seki.
Sequoia National Park – One of the first parks in the country, Sequoia NP is famous for its giant sequoia trees and black bears. Visit the General Sherman Tree (the largest living organism and tree in the world), climb Moro Rock, take in spectacular views of Mt. Whitney (the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states), and hike through glacial canyons, lush meadows thick with wildflowers, and explore oak woodlands. The scenery is spectacular, offering a rich diversity of bird, plant and wildlife. Covering 404,064 acres, there are hundreds of streams, ponds, rivers, creeks and lakes, and over 200 marble caverns to explore. Crescent Meadow and Big Trees Trail offer wonderful spring and early summer wildflower, bird and wildlife viewing. Tokopah Falls Trail is a worthwhile 1.7 mile spring hike along the north bank of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, leading to the 1,200-foot cascading waterfall. Learn more at (559) 565-334 or www.NPS.gov/seki.
Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument – Featuring 33 groves of giant sequoia trees, the Sequoia National Forest is home to the biggest concentration of giant sequoia groves. These groves are protected within the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which encompasses over 353,000 acres of diverse landscape, including two wild and scenic rivers, lakes, and six wilderness areas. Along with the magnificent giant sequoias, the area boasts lush forest meadows and a myriad of plant, bird and animal species. There are limestone caverns to explore and granite domes and spires to see, along with archaeological sites. The activities are endless and include hiking and camping, mountain biking, horse riding, bird and wildlife watching, and spring white water rafting. Learn more at (559) 784-1500 or www.FS.USDA.gov/sequoia.
Sequoia Parks Conservancy – From guided hikes to astronomy events, family campfires, living history and birding programs, this wonderful organization hosts numerous events and programs focusing on Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. For an up-to-date calendar visit www.SequoiaParksConservancy.org/
MUSIC & THE ARTS
From ceramicists to muralists, Tulare County is home to numerous artists and musicians and has a thriving calendar of musical, visual and performing arts events to experience. Most of the historic downtowns tell their community’s stories through colorful murals.
Three Rivers – In this vibrant art community at the gateway to Sequoia National Park, the local artists joined together to create the special monthly 1st Saturday Three Rivers Art Day. Featuring a different theme each time, you can visit artist’s studios and see exhibits, demonstrations and even musical performances in local businesses, restaurants, gift shops, and galleries. Don’t miss these 2017 events: Apr. 7-9: 44th Annual Jazzaffair; Apr. 28-30: Earth Jam Festival; May 12-14: Annual Center Stage Strings Music Festival; May 13-14: 45th Annual Redbud Arts & Crafts Festival; June 10: High Sierra Jazz Band in Concert.
Exeter – Also a main gateway community to Sequoia National Park, Exeter has a charming historic downtown district that’s decorated with over 30 murals portraying the history, natural beauty and people of Exeter. You can take a self-guided tour or book a special guided group tour – be sure to look for the hidden pictures within the murals! Another art stop is the Exeter Courthouse Gallery, which is connected to the town’s museum, and is open on weekends.
Visalia – Historic downtown Visalia is home to numerous art galleries and performance venues. Upcoming spring 2017 shows at the Visalia Fox Theatre include: March 29: An Evening with Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett; April 1: Mariachi Los Camperos; April 22: Bette & Her Divine Divas; April 29: Tulare County Symphony.
Porterville – Home to the historic Barn Theatre, Porterville also hosts a First Friday Art Walk in the historic downtown district. Upcoming spring 2017 Barn Theatre productions include: ‘Cookin’ with Gus’ comedy – March 24-26 & 31, April 1-2, 7-9; and ‘Is He Dead’ a Mark Twain Comedy – May 19-21, 26-28, June 2-4.
Springville – Gateway to Sequoia National Forest, this community hosts a Concerts in the Park program from May 27 – September 2, 2017.
GARDEN, FARM & ORCHARD FLOWER POWER
When visiting California’s Sequoia Country during the spring, expect to experience intoxicating orange blossoms, flowering nut and fruit orchards, fragrant flower gardens in homes and historic downtowns, and vivid displays of wildflowers in the foothills. Bravo Lake Botanical Garden in Woodlake is a beautiful place where you can bird watch, photograph, picnic, and stroll through the various flower and edible gardens which cover just over a mile or so.
Spring 2017 Flower-Powered Celebrations – April 1-8: 85th Annual Lindsay Orange Blossom Festival; April 22: Porterville Iris Festival; May 7th – Exeter Garden Party; May 13th – Exeter Garden Tour; 1st Saturdays Farmers Market in Springville starting May 7.
STEP BACK IN TIME
Tulare County is rich in farm and ranching history, as well as pioneer, Native American, military, and natural history. The historic downtowns hold onto a ‘Small Town America’ sense-of-place and make for a fascinating stroll through time.
Along with exploring the historic downtowns, the museums and historic sites add provide a ‘sense of place’ to the region. Such stops include the Exeter Courthouse Gallery & Museum, Tulare Historical Museum in downtown Tulare, Porterville Historical Museum and Zalud House in Porterville, Three Rivers Historical Museum famous for its big Paul Bunyan sculpture, Springville Historical Museum, Alta District Historical Society Depot Museum in Dinuba, and Tulare County Museum in Visalia’s Mooney Grove Park in Visalia. It’s also well worth a stop at the Visitor Centers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, to get a glimpse into the region’s stories of the past, including natural history and geology, conservation and culture.
Tulare County definitely loves to celebrate life with a good festival, a lively parade and a whacky festival. Though these special events are high on the fun-meter, most of them are part of a fundraising effort or have an educational component. Mark Your Calendars for these Spring 2017 Festivities – Apr. 22-23: Tulare County Renaissance Festival in Visalia; Apr. 27-30: 67th Annual Three Rivers Lions Team Roping; May 6: Porterville Cinco de Mayo Parade; May 17-21: Porterville Fair; June 10: Downtown Porterville Car Show.
To plan your Spring Sequoia Adventure, visit www.DiscoverTheSequoias.com.