The Sequoia National Forest protects 1.2 million acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, ranging from 1,000 feet in elevation to over 12,000 feet. Its Giant Sequoia groves cover nearly 200,000 acres. After visiting the Giant Sequoia National Monument, we planned to drive a few hundred miles to the next park. We only made it 8 miles. As we were driving through the Sequoia National Forest, we were awed by the amazing canyons around us. So we just pulled off the road in the beautiful dispersed camping spot shown in the photos above.
This land was originally preserved in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Sierra Forest Reserve. It became the Sierra National Forest in 1915. We climbed a mountain high above our camping site and watched dirt bikers riding through the mountains.
In this photo I am holding Darby at our dispersed campsite just after sunset.
Lake Isabella was formed in 1953 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Kern River. At over 11,000 acres, the lake is one of the largest reservoirs in California. In 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers determined the Isabella Dam is too unstable to hold the entire reservoir, so 40% of the water was drained. Reservoir capacity will be held at 60% until studies are finished and the dam can be repaired, expected to take up to 15 years. Adding to the worry, an active fault line has emerged under the dam. An earthquake along the fault line could collapse the dam with catastrophic results downstream.
The pine cones were huge!
Johnsondale Bridge marks the southern edge of the second-largest roadless area in the continental United States. The bridge spans the Kern River. The old bridge now serves as a pedestrian walkway, while the new bridge carries vehicle traffic.
We hiked down to the Kern River, hopped over some rocks to enjoy lunch in the middle of the river.
There were numerous sandy beaches along the Kern River. We saw fishermen all along the river.
The Kern River Canyon funneled air to produce a strong wind.