I recently had the opportunity to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. My mission was to attend a weeklong "summit" of sorts to discuss and examine asset management. During my stay, however, I realized that there was an issue of equal importance that was somewhat overshadowed.
For those who may not know, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located in between Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks. That doesn't seem too bad, now, does it? The issue lies within the direction tourists tend to travel. Tourists typically arrive in San Francisco and make the short drive to Yosemite. However, instead of heading south, tourists usually travel to Death Valley en route to Las Vegas--skipping the two national parks in the middle!
I was saddened to hear that many tourists (unintentionally) skip visiting the home of our country's largest trees. The Giant Sequoia tree is a breathtaking sight, and Sequoia National Park is proud to house the world's largest tree (by volume)--General Sherman. With a base over 100 feet around, which is expanding every year, the General Sherman tree is an amazing sight. Like other Sequoias, it dominates the landscape and makes visitors realize how small they truly are. And the landscape is not just scattered with these giants--it is also home to an incredible array of wildlife. There aren't too many places where a visitor can eat barbeque on a porch while watching mule deer graze in the open meadows.
After a week of meetings, it was clear to me that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks employees not only know about asset management, but also know how to create a visitor experience that will not soon be forgotten.
As a parks advocate, I urge everybody who visits the Sierras to take some time and drive up the Generals Highway into the Giant Forest. Besides, all park enthusiasts should get their passports stamped!