Many of the mountains’ best sights—unlikely as it seems—are waiting for you to discover them
Part of the drama of Mineral King comes just from getting there. The 25-mile, nearly 7,000-foot climb starts innocently enough in Three Rivers, one of Sequoia National Park’s gateway towns. But before you know it, Mineral King Road is leading you on a succession of twists and blind corners with drop-offs above a seemingly bottomless canyon. And farther up, through forest where massive, cinnamon-hued trunks of giant sequoias dwarf the surrounding trees.
A few miles past Silver City Mountain Resort, the only non-camping option along the way, the road rounds the last of its nearly 700 turns then dead-ends at Mineral King Valley.
At this point, it’s fine to gasp, but you’re not done. The glacier-carved valley is the jumping-off point for hikes in meadows of wildflowers, along creeks that tumble through stands of aspen, up to alpine lakes with views of cascades down mountain faces. Those 700 turns? Worth it, every one of them. Mineral King Valley: $20/vehicle (open May 22); nps.gov/seki. Silver City resort: From $100 (open May 24);