FALL COL­ORS Lots of places in Cal­i­for­nia to en­joy Na­ture’s show

Ripon Bulletin - - On The Road - By CARY ORDWAY Cal­i­for­ni­aWeek­end.com

Each year, Cal­i­for­ni­ans head for the moun­tains — that an­nual fall rit­ual that re­minds res­i­dents of the Golden State that, in some parts of the world, trees do change their ap­pear­ance with the sea­sons. The re­sult is a kalei­do­scope of fall col­ors for those will­ing to drive to the higher el­e­va­tions.

Be­sides, fall means fewer crowds in the most pop­u­lar parks, cooler days and crisp nights. So, whether you’re just go­ing up there to cool off or you’re plan­ning a trip to see the fall col­ors -- best done from midOc­to­ber through Novem­ber — here are some of our fa­vorite des­ti­na­tions: Se­quoia Na­tional Park Who wouldn’t be im­pressed by the gi­ant Se­quoia trees you see through­out this fa­mous park? The trees weigh as much as 2.7 mil­lion pounds, and some are more than 2,000 years old. Even their branches are as much as seven feet in di­am­e­ter. Go in the fall and you’ll also see the Cot­ton­woods and Aspen chang­ing color as tem­per­a­tures be­gin to plum­met.

On our most re­cent trip to the park we

stayed at the Wuk­sachi Vil­lage Lodge, right in the heart of the “ac­tion.” Nearby are groves of the gi­ant Se­quoias as well as many trails, ma­jor at­trac­tions like the Gen­eral Sher­man Tree and park ser­vices and ameni­ties. Lodge­pole Vil­lage and the Mar­ket Cen­ter are close by for quick trips to the store.

With its well-ap­pointed rooms, the lodge is quite an out­post. Here in the thick of the moun­tains you have a lodge that pro­vides guest ameni­ties such as tele­vi­sions, re­frig­er­a­tors, phones and even com­puter ports. This is for peo­ple who love the feel of camp­ing in the Great Out­doors, but who may have grown weary of rough­ing it in tents or nofrills cab­ins. The re­sort has a full din­ing room and lounge, so it re­ally is like stay­ing at a ma­jor ho­tel in the moun­tains.

The thing about Se­quoia Na­tional Park is you want to al­low plenty of time to drive the curvy roads through the park and to stop and take ad­van­tage of the trails. Stay­ing in the park al­lows you to spend more time soaking up the in­cred­i­ble scenery, and less time has­sling with traf­fic — which, by the way, is con­sid­er­ably less once you get deep into the fall sea­son.

In ad­di­tion to the ob­vi­ous Main At­trac­tion — the trees — Se­quoia offers other points of in­ter­est. On this re­cent trip we stopped by the Gi­ant For­est Mu­seum, which we think does an ex­cel­lent job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the his­tory of Se­quoia Na­tional Park and ex­plain­ing the con­ser­va­tion ef­forts afoot to make sure that th­ese trees stay a na­tional trea­sure. On an earlier trip, we dis­cov­ered Crys­tal Cave, an amaz­ing di­ver­sion where we saw gor­geous sta­lac­tites and “cur­tains,” as well as or­nate mar­ble and all kinds of crys­tal for­ma­tions that made it all look like some sort of Hollywood movie set.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Se­quoia Na­tional Park, phone (559) 565-3341. More in­for­ma­tion on Wuk­sachi Lodge is avail­able at 866786-3197 or on­line at www.vis­it­se­quoia. com.

Idyll­wild The San Jac­into moun­tain range of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia offers a stark con­trast to the warm, arid cli­mate just a few miles away and, for that rea­son, places like Idyll­wild have be­come pop­u­lar get­aways for peo­ple who want a taste of the four sea­sons.

The “Yosemite of the South,” a com­mon nick­name for Idyll­wild, is a moun­tain vil­lage with a few earthy folks will­ing to brave the el­e­ments, and then a whole bunch more weekend va­ca­tion war­riors who turn around and head for sunny L.A. in time for work Mon­day morn­ing.

As early as Septem­ber, the red maples and yel­low cot­ton­woods be­gin to color the Idyll­wild land­scape. It’s hard to imag­ine all of this so close to the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia desert, but here it is and a wel­come respite it is for peo­ple who love four sea­sons.

Be­gin­ning the last weekend in Septem­ber, the com­mu­nity also puts on an Oktoberfest cel­e­bra­tion which is head­quar­tered at Oma’s Restau­rant. Mu­sic, beer and brats are of­fered in abun­dance for three con­sec­u­tive week­ends. There are no big re­sorts in Idyll­wild, but there is a va­ri­ety of smaller ac­com­mo­da­tions.

We en­joyed spend­ing some time in down­town Idyll­wild where there seemed to be an end­less va­ri­ety of shops and a steady stream of vis­i­tors. Art gal­leries are also a big part of Idyll­wild and there are no fewer than 17 of them for vis­i­tors to tour.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Idyll­wild, visit www.idyll­wild­cham­ber.com or phone 888659-3259. Lodg­ing spe­cials are avail­able at www.innsofidyll­wild.com.

Yosemite Na­tional Park Let’s face it: Yosemite is now to the point that it’s prac­ti­cally over-run with sum­mer vis­i­tors. But our trip to Yosemite in mid-Oc­to­ber was dif­fer­ent. The road­ways weren’t as crowded, ac­com­mo­da­tions were eas­ier to get and there were long stretches along some hik­ing trails where we ac­tu­ally felt quite alone.

Yosemite is one of the most pop­u­lar na­tional parks in the coun­try, so there is no es­cap­ing the tour buses or the flat-bed trailer tramways that take vis­i­tors on guided tours through­out Yosemite Val­ley. Still, the fall is a qui­eter time to visit Yosemite. Road­ways are still bare yet it’s not hard to imag­ine that, in a few weeks, the snow will turn this spectacular land­scape into a win­ter won­der­land. Tem­per­a­tures change quickly as the sun goes down, re­mind­ing you that th­ese nat­u­ral at­trac­tions are sev­eral thou­sand feet above sea level. At­tire changes from shorts and tee-shirts to win­ter clothes in a mat­ter of min­utes.

It’s not far from the Highway 120 en­trance to the Yosemite Val­ley where we en­joyed grand views of the rock walls that have made Yosemite so fa­mous. It’s not hard to see why Yosemite is con­sid­ered to be the “Crown Jewel” of the Na­tional Park Sys­tem — the tow­er­ing gran­ite cliffs are the re­sult of earth­quakes, glaciers and other forces that have been at work here for mil­lions of years. In all, the park en­com­passes about 1,170 square miles of pris­tine forests, wa­ter­falls, and alpine lakes, but vis­i­tors are most awe-struck by th­ese walls of gran­ite that dwarf their sur­round­ings.

A visit to Yosemite is a dif­fer­ent spectacular sight ev­ery few min­utes as you drive through stands of Se­quoia or Pine trees, stop­ping at trail­heads to walk even fur­ther into the wilder­ness where you cross bab­bling brooks and en­joy nu­mer­ous sight­ings of wildlife such as the Western Gray Squir­rels, Golden Ea­gles or Pere­grine Fal­cons. And, ev­ery­where you look in the fall are mag­nif­i­cent col­ors that make Yosemite seem even more spectacular than dur­ing its prime sum­mer sea­son.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Yosemite Na­tional Park, phone 209-372-0200 or visit www.nps.gov/yose/.

Ju­lian A lit­tle over an hour’s drive from San Diego’s beaches and big-city at­trac­tions is a place that will trans­port you back through time and of­fer a glimpse of post-Civil War life in San Diego County. And, a trip to tiny Ju­lian will be richly re­warded with fall col­ors in ev­ery di­rec­tion you look.

We’d like to say the road to Ju­lian is a road less trav­eled, but the truth is that Ju­lian is a pop­u­lar day or weekend trip for not only San Diego res­i­dents, but South­ern Cal­i­for­nia mo­tor­cy­cle and sports car clubs who find th­ese curvy, scenic roads es­pe­cially well-suited for their fre­quent ex­cur­sions. If you like crowds and a cer­tain kind of elec­tric­ity, visit on a weekend; oth­er­wise a week­day visit can of­fer a quiet respite from bustling city life.

Ju­lian’s tiny busi­ness district is only about three blocks long and four blocks wide, al­though you’ll find spo­radic busi­nesses out­side of the down­town area. Most of the build­ings down­town are his­tor­i­cal in some sense — many dat­ing back to the post-Civil War pe­riod when the town was founded. Today, the town is known for its ap­ples and a tourist cus­tom is to en­joy a fresh-baked ap­ple pie and ice cream at one of sev­eral lo­cal eater­ies. For a town with just a few hun­dred souls, Ju­lian has an un­usual num­ber of bak­eries and pie shops such as Mom’s Pie House, where vis­i­tors stop for their oblig­a­tory treat.

The other shops in Ju­lian run the gamut from tacky tourist shops to crafts of all types to the nor­mal small-town fix­tures like hard­ware and gen­eral stores. For those in­ter­ested in gal­leries, an­tiques and col­lectibles, Ju­lian has that cov­ered as well. There are a to­tal of nine gal­leries as well as sev­eral an­tique and col­lectible shops.

If you pre­fer to stay close to Ju­lian, there are sev­eral op­tions for overnight ac­com­mo­da­tions in­clud­ing bed-and-break­fast inns, small ho­tels and va­ca­tion rentals.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Ju­lian, con­tact the Ju­lian Cham­ber of Com­merce at www. ju­lianca.com

Photo con­trib­uted

Trees dur­ing the fall at Se­quoia Na­tional Park.

Pho­tos courtesy of Yosemite Scenic Prop­er­ties

TOP PHOTO: A fall trip to Yosemite pro­vides an en­tire dif­fer­ent look at the na­tional park. Shown is El Cap­i­tan with the Merced River in the fore­ground. BOT­TOM PHOTO: Hik­ing the Mist Trail at Yosemite Na­tional Park. For in­for­ma­tion on lodg­ing call 1-888-YOSEMITE.

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