Kings Canyon National Park

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Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are closely related with Kings Canyon just to the north of Sequoia.  In fact, if you visit the National Park Service website, the two national parks are grouped together.  Kings Canyon has two parts:  the massive canyon for which it is named and a smaller component on the west face the Sierra Nevada with sequoia groves.

General Grant tree

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Sequoia National Park

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Sequoia National Park is one of our oldest national parks.  It encompasses a vast portion of the Sierra Nevada mountains, approximately 630 square miles, most of which is designated wilderness with no access other than on foot.  It also includes the highest mountain peak in the contiguous 48 states, Mount Whitney.

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Piedras Blancas Light Station

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The Piedras Blancas lighthouse was first illuminated on February 15, 1875.  A mere 8 years later a severe earthquake caused some damage about 70 feet up from the  base.  Finally in 1948, after additional earthquakes, the determination was made that the upper three floors had to be removed.  Therefore, the lighthouse stands at 70 feet tall rather than the original 100 feet.  The original Fresnel lens was preserved and is on display in the nearby community of Cambria.

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The lighthouse is located on a very scenic stretch of California coastline 5.5 miles north of San Simeon.  In 2001 the Bureau of Land Management assumed management of the site with the objective to restore the light station to its period of greatest historical significance.  The non-profit Piedras Blancas Light Station Association raises funds and provides volunteer assistance for restoration and maintenance.  They also conduct scheduled tours which provided us the opportunity to tour the site.

Morro Bay Sand Spit Hike

The Morro Bay sand spit is a long narrow, curved peninsula that extends from Montana de Oro State Park almost to Morro Rock.  It separates Morro Bay from the ocean.  We took a hike along the beach side of the sand spit which is about a 10 mile round trip.

Morro Rock in the distance

Of course, the hike is on sand for the entire way but it’s not bad when you stay close to the surf where the sand is packed to give more firm footing.  The main sight along the way is the variety of sea birds.  There were areas where they were quite thick.

Cluster of birds

We saw various types of gulls, sandpipers, plovers, pelicans and a couple of snowy white egrets.

Taking flight