“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
After leaving San Francisco we journeyed south through California, enjoying Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Death Valley. We then wandered east through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, back to Tennessee, and then north through Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, arriving in Pennsylvania to visit family for the weekend.
At Yosemite we showed up a day early and managed to snag a campsite inside the park, so we got to spend extra time exploring before heading to our KOA outside of the park. Half dome had some spectacular views that we took in from a scenic viewpoint accessed via shuttle and then a short hike up to the vista. After we left Yosemite we headed out toward Sequoia and Kings Canyon where we got to see General Sherman, the largest tree by volume in the world. Kings Canyon had a scenic drive through to the end of the canyon and then back up to Sequoia where we dispersed camped in the national forest outside the park to enjoy a night under the stars.
We arrived at Death Valley on the anniversary of the hottest temperature recorded: 134 degrees. It was roughtly 106 while we were there, which was still unbearably hot in my opinion! Utah was absolutely beautiful and we had a blast sandboarding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State park. We hiked the narrows at Zion and adventured through Bryce to check out the hoodoos. At Arches National Park, we hiked out to Landscape Arch where we got some great pictures!
After Utah, we headed east to Colorado to explore Mesa Verde National Park, where we took a guided tour of the cliff dwellings that involved climbing cliffside ladders and crawling through tunnels to access different parts of the site. After we left Mesa Verde we drove to Pagosa Springs, where we enjoyed the natural hot springs mineral baths. We headed out to Great Sand Dunes national park to see the dunes and then drove up to Denver to get an oil change and a tire rotation. We explored Rocky Mountain national park and saw dozens of elk, marmot, and other wildlife.
After Colorado, we drove west and stayed at a KOA in Kansas before we made it to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. We didn’t spend much time here, and continued on to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. We stayed the night here and then continued north to Philadelphia for a few days visiting family before seeing more family in New Jersey.