I've shot in the Mineral King section
of Sequoia National Park every year since my first trip a decade
ago. At around 8000 feet, this area has beautiful scenic
landscapes, lush wildflowers, waterfalls, the east fork of the
Kaweah River, and wildlife. A few years ago I shot the Cold
Spring Nature Trail for the Park Service, and after a trip or two
uphill to Black Rock Falls (this page's header image, above) it is
high on my list of late summer/fall photography locations. At
the end of the road, which winds through Sequoia groves, there is
one of the larger aspen groves stretching up the valley, south,
towards Farewell Gap - a colorful display in the fall. While
trailheads go off in many directions (all steeply uphill) we stay
fairly close to the road.
The story of this area is truly unique. At one time this high
elevation valley was considered for a Disney Ski Resort (in the
1960's), but its remote location and difficult road access kept the
valley from being anything but a summer home location. Miners
and hunters in the later 1870's first brought white men to the area,
but the mines were less than successful and eventually abandoned -
though they did leave traces of mining around the upper reaches of
the valley, and they did create the initial road for horses and
wagons. A couple of summer home settlements remain, and
eventually it was added to Sequoia National Park. Views of
Sawtooth Peak to the east, Farewell Gap to the south, and Timber Gap
to the north surround the valley with photogenic sites.
We can meet at my home in Tulare or at a hotel in Visalia at 5am, or in Three Rivers on Highway 198 at 6am in the Pizza
Factory parking lot. From there we travel to the Mineral King
Valley and photograph throughout the area.
We will stop for lunch, then shoot again through the early afternoon
before heading back.
Difficulty Level: MODERATE