Dreaming of Travel: Tahoe and The Sequoias

Published on August 28, 2020 - Updated on August 30, 2020

Babies, Grandmas and Bears… oh my!

Three. No, that’s not the number of ice-cream cones I ate every day of our trip (but who's counting really). It’s not the number of tantrums my toddler had everyday… Three is the number of bears we saw! That’s what everyone really wants to know when you take a 10-day road trip into the mountains, right? Well, it’s all my two-year-old can talk about now anyway.

Bears in Sequoia National park

Bears aside, let me share the rest of our epic ten-day RV trip from San Diego, California to Tahoe, Californi,  and then to Sequoia National Park! We packed up the RV with the two grandmas, a 2-year-old, a 7-month-old, way too many clothes, loads of snacks, and hit the road. First stop – South Lake Tahoe where my good friend was getting married which inspired the decision to take this family adventure. 

Camp Richardson Resort

Camp Richardson Lake Tahoe

After a long 8 hour drive, we arrived at Camp Richardson on the south shores of Tahoe. Like any destination in mid-august, we had to make reservations six months prior to arriving, which means we also got a great spot with nothing but beautiful tall trees as far as the eye could see behind our site! It was the perfect playground for my adventurous 2-year-old. Throughout our five-night stay, she spent hours hiding behind trees, searching for treasures in giant stumps and chasing chipmunks while trying to convince them to live in the rock forts she had built especially for their furry tails.

Camp Richardson Campground resort is a ten-minute drive from the main part of town or a scenic 15-minute bike ride. It not only hosts RV and tent camping but also offers cabins. It’s barely what I could call “roughing it” in the camping world, but it is great! This beautiful resort has many amenities including full RV hookups, stocked bathrooms with free showers, an ice-cream shop (a huge selling point for my sweet tooth), the Coffee and Confectionary (with delicious lavender lattes!), a cafe, small store,  and a restaurant and bar called The Beacon.

Biking Lake Tahoe

You’ll learn quickly that The Beacon Bar & Grill is famous for its rum runner drinks, perfect after a day on the lake with the kiddos.  All of this within a half-mile walking distance from our campsite, as well as being one of the top beach spots along South Lake Tahoe.  We felt like we had everything at our fingertips while fully immersed in the trees and nature! The layout and amenities made traveling with two small children a little bit easier.  

Since we only had the 32 foot RV to drive, we spent almost every day at the resort beach playing with our paddleboard, kayak, and inner tubes we brought with us. Not to worry if you don’t have your own, there’s a marina with water toys for rent! We knew we would be hiking every day in the Sequoias on the next leg of our trip so we soaked up the lake life - playing in the water all day and cruising on our bikes as we chased the setting sun sinking behind the mountains. We closed out our days making Reese’s S’mores while counting the stars before climbing into our sleeping bags.

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

We prepared most of our own food, eating at The Beacon and the coffee shop a few times (I’ve shared a few campfire friendly recipes below!). While camping, to get the kids clean (besides swimming in the lake) we bring a bucket and fill it with spigot water.  My little one hates showers at the moment, so this worked well for us.

Also, to keep it fun we brought glow sticks and light-up glasses along with solar lights to decorate our campsite - the kids weren’t the only ones loving that! We had both Grandmas sleeping at night in the RV with our 7-month-old while my husband and I slept in a tent with our 2-year-old. There was not much sleep in either location, but hey, we’re out in nature having adventures. And there’s coffee. Lots of lavender lattes.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Day 6 came and we were sad to leave the beautiful crystal clear shores of Tahoe and with it the delicious lavender lattes (did I mention there were lavender lattes??) and spotty cell service. We drove six hours to our next destination, Sequoia National Park, where we had to make our own terrible coffee and had zero cell service, but they had ice cream, so not all was lost. Again, we booked our campsite at Lodgepole Campground six months prior and got one of the best RV sites in the lot (#155). It is on the end and right along the Marble Fork Kaweah River, where we swam and soaked our sore feet after long days of adventuring with children and grandmas. (All joking aside our mothers totally crushed it).

Sequoia National Park Trail

A great thing about Lodgepole Campground is there are numerous trailheads that start right at the campground, so you don’t need to drive anywhere. But there are a lot of great options outside the campground as well, and a free shuttle service that will take you to them! From Lodgepole we hiked Tokopah Falls, a 3.5-mile out-and-back trail that takes you mainly along the river, through beautiful woods and deer run meadows to a 1,200-foot waterfall, cascading down a huge granite headwall of the glacial Tokopah Valley. This trail has quite a few steps so I would not suggest a stroller or wagon. My husband carried our 2-year-old in a Kelty Kids Backpack and I had our 7-month-old in the Bjorn. 

Another must-see was the General Sherman Tree, which encompasses a huge grove of giant Sequoias and is only a short shuttle ride away. This is the main event, ladies and gentlemen, this is where the giants live. General Sherman is the giant of giant sequoias in the world, believed to be 2,200 years old and weigh 1,385 tons - that’s a lot of wood. 

General Sherman Tree Sequoia National Park

From the main tree, we took the Congress trail, a paved 3-mile loop that takes you through gorgeous massive Sequoia groves. While this path is paved there is still about a 470-foot elevation gain which could prove challenging for some. We put both our kiddos in a wagon which worked fine for us. If using a stroller or wagon I would suggest starting at the wheelchair-accessible trailhead, as there are no stairs this way! Afterward, we took the shuttle to The Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge (make sure you order the onion rings).

The grandmas volunteered to watch the kids one afternoon so my husband and I took off running, a few hours to explore on our own - we were thrilled! We grabbed a shuttle to Morro Rock and loved it. It is a steep, fast climb (300-foot elevation gain in half a mile) with dropping granite rock on each side. At the top, you are rewarded with 360 views of the magnificent mountain ranges and valleys that surround you. This climb is well lined with railings but if you have a fear of heights this might be a challenge!  

Sequoia National Park Morro Rock

Afterward, we opted to skip the short shuttle back to the Giant Forest Museum (where you hop on another shuttle back to our campground) and instead took the 1.5 mile Morro Rock Trail down, which was the best decision by far. On the entire trail, we only encountered 2 people which is very rare for any hike here this time of year. We passed giant Sequoia tree after giant Sequoia tree as we trail ran our way back. Trail running also meant we got to ice-cream faster. Back at camp, our toddler was quick to tell us of her bear sighting and it is still her favorite thing to talk about.

Sequoia National Park

And this is where our crazy RV adventure ends. It was beautiful. It was exhausting. It was incredibly fun. And we would do it all over again in a heartbeat. To spend every day under the trees, feet dirty, sleepless, with the people I love most - now on to planning the next great adventure!

Camp friendly recipes

Sequoia National Park Lodgepole Campground

French Toast

A favorite camp meal of mine is french toast on the grill! Thick slices of bread drizzled with egg, cinnamon, strawberries, and chopped almonds - all wrapped in tinfoil and rotated on the fire grill every so often for about 30-40 minutes - top with some syrup and dive in! 


Same idea with pizza - we cut a french bread loaf in quarters, topped it with our favorite toppings, wrapped it in tin foil, and left it on the fire grill for about 20-30 minutes and bon appetit!

Breakfast Hash

Load a medium size tin dish with (thawed) hash browns, beaten eggs, the meat of choice (in our case it was leftover steak we grilled the night before!), cheese, spinach, mushrooms and anything else you’re craving, stirring occasionally and top with tinfoil. Top with sour cream and some hot sauce and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.

What’s your favorite road trip destination? Share your highlights on Instagram @gethappyly.

Explore more of our Dreaming of Travel series in a music lover’s paradise like Memphis, or find your happy place on Bear Lake: An Adventurer’s Oasis. If you’d prefer, Make Nature Your Focus in Harper’s Ferry, Plan Your Next Adventure in Savannah, Explore Grand Teton or Yellowstone, Dream about a Tubing Adventure in Salida, Colorado, or further fuel your wanderlust in the Dry Tortugas or at Mojave National Preserve.

If you have a perfect getaway or a favorite landscape, please reach out to us at share@happyly.com and we will be excited to cover it! 

Thoughtfully captured by:
Brittany B Ricketts
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