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Now open all winter, generals highway through the giant sequoias.

Powdered white and towering over sparkling meadows, giant sequoias beckon winter visitors to Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks. Now you can make a loop trip to see snow clinging to the world's largest trees by driving Generals Highway, closed every winter from 1977 to 1984. In previous winters, a combined visit to both parks meant driving a slow 65-mile alternate route between Grant Grove and Lodgepole, now only 25 miles.

Increased funding for road maintenance has made it possible to keep Generals Highway open all year. Still, rangers caution you to drive slowly and carry chains.

Stop to glide through groves of giant sequoias on cross-country skis, try the new platter lift at the Wolverton Ski Area, or sled in the snow-play area at Big Stump or Wolverton. Allow about 2 hours for the 48-mile drive from Grant Grove to Ash Mountain. Park entry fee is $2 per car.

Touring on skis. You can go cross-country skiing almost anywhere in the parks and surrounding forest, but the highway offers few turnouts for parking. The safest places are the lots at Lodgepole and Giant forest village. You can ski groomed trails (free) just east of Grant Grove, marked but undeveloped trails in the back country, or a route of your choosing amid the big trees.

Four places here rent skis: Sequoia Ski Touring in Giant Forest, open 8 to 6 daily, (209) 565-3461; Sequoia Ski Touring Grant Grove, 8 to 6 Thursdays through mondays, 335-3214; Montecito-Sequoia Cross Country Ski Center, 7 to 9 daily, 565-3388; Wilsonia Lodge, 7 to 7 daily, 335-2310. Or arrange for overnight hut tours, weekends only, at Wilsonia Ski Touring, 335-2404.

For maps of marked ski trails, stop at the visitor center at Ash Mountain (8 to 4:30 daily), Grant Grove (8 to 5 daily), or Lodgepole (9 to 5 daily). At Grant Grove, you can also get a contour map ($1) showing all marked trails. Stop at the Montecito-Sequoia ski center for a map of trails starting there ($1.25).

Overnight accommodations are available in Giant Forest and Grant Grove; for information, write to Sequoia and Kings Canyon Guest Services, Sequoia National Park, Calif. 93262, or telephone 656-3373. Three areas offer first-come camping: Potwisha in Sequoia has 44 sites below the normal snow line; at Lodgepole, a plowed parking area is suitable for snow tenters and for winterized vehicles; in Grant Grove, 33 parking spaces are kept clear at Azalea Campground.

In heavy storms, expect the highway to be closed. For road and weather reports, call park headquarters at 565-3341 from 8 to 4:30 daily. For a 24-hour recording, call 565-3351. For the Forest Service report, call 338-2251.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, California
Date:Jan 1, 1986
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