Sequoia/King’s Canyon National Park and Point Reyes

Here I go asking for help again…. (But I also do a lot of research on my own, and yes, I read all the relevant trip reports)
On a last-minute basis I’m thinking of going to CA for 6 days, starting in LA for literally 1 night to visit some old highschool friends before driving the next morning to Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP for 2 nights and then Point Reyes and the Tennessee Valley / San Francisco area for 2 nights.

So the main species of target here is the bobcat which somehow has eluded me for so many years, but based on trip reports, it’s almost guaranteed in the latter 2 locations.

So my question is really just about Sequoia – where should I stay inside the partk to increase my chances at finding martens, fishers or ringtails? I’m guessing fishers and ringtails are far far from likely, yet I know they do exist in the park. I know wolverines are extinct from the park, so I’m really just after the above 3 species, plus any weasels or the chance for a mountain lion which I saw once, but still haven’t photographed in the wild. Any tips would be extremely appreciated, AND – if anyone wants to join, please let me know! I’m thinking next Friday and Saturday nights at Sequoia then Sunday and Monday around San Francisco. I’d be down to do some night hiking with a nice maglight (I know ‘spotlighting’ from the road is not allowed, but does anyone care if I just hike trails with a flashlight?) or whatever other nocturnal activities that can increase my chances to find the interesting carnivores I’m after. I definitely read about 1 marten + 3 bobcats during 1/2hour drive after dark… That would be a NICE beginning 🙂

Thanks in advance everyone!

  1. Curtis Hart 10 years ago

    The 3 bobcats and 1 Marten was me, so i guess I have nothing else to add. I’ve only been there once, but I doubt that is typical. My guess is that I was extremely lucky.


  2. Author
    tomeslice 10 years ago

    Curtis, was this just along the main road? (Highway 198)
    Also, what month of the year was it?

    My parents are telling me that driving a rental sedan into this park isn’t recommended at this time of year.. so maybe I’ll chuck it up and drive to Yosemite. Does anyone know if mammal sightings of the species I’m after are more likely in either park? I’m guessing Sequoia may have an edge since it’s less crowded…

    • Curtis Hart 10 years ago

      I saw them outside the park, in the national forest. The marten was last, and maybe 3 miles outside the park. I forget what road it was on, which ever one made the most sense for me to get into the park from wherever I was visiting before. This was the night of April 7th, 2007.

      Also, don’t lie to LE by saying you are going to your hotel. They’ll know you’ve been up and down the road a few times, or will notice you on your next pass. Spot lighting is not automatically prohibited in US National Parks. You may be allowed to there, I don’t know. Good luck,


      • Author
        tomeslice 10 years ago

        Good point! I’m really not doing anything illegal, so I shouldn’t have any problems.
        In the end, my parents begged me not to go to Sequoia by myself on the claims that the roads can be dangerous in the winter and there is no cell phone reception… So I settled for Yosemite instead. Hopefully it’s not as crowded in the winter (well, next week) and hopefully some night driving especially in highe elevations can yield some interesting species! I’ll definitely write a trip report, though I don’t expect to have to many interesting species on it, but like I told Charles Wood – maybe I’ll get lucky…

  3. Vladimir Dinets 10 years ago

    You can drive a sedan through Sequoya at any time, just be careful and make sure the tires are in good condition.
    Try driving Mineral King Rd. (one way at night and return at dawn or dusk) for all kinds of carnivores. It’s worth trying even if the terminal portion is already closed.
    For martins and fishers, forests south of Sequoya NP are a bit better, but it’s still very difficult to find them unless snow conditions are ideal and you can snow track well.

  4. Author
    tomeslice 10 years ago

    Thanks Vladimir.

    I doubt there will be snow there by next weekend.. So far it’s been sunny and hotter than average for the season. Is mammal watching in Yosemite definitely inferior to Sequoia and south of it?

    • Vladimir Dinets 10 years ago

      Yosemite is better for high-elevation species, and I’ve had better luck with bats there.

  5. charleswhood 10 years ago

    As a guess, you’ll be more productive driving than walking, and as such, Sequoia (being less visited) is marginally better. Yosemite is more likely to have “police”-type rangers on the roads at night also. On the off chance you’re pulled over by officers anywhere, it’s customary to stay in the car with both your hands clearly in view on the steering wheel. Leave your seat belt on too. When the officer approaches — probably backlit by blinding spotlights — only then roll down the windows and produce whatever documentation she or he requests. Assume that they will be courteous, professional … and well-armed. In Yosemite, I have seen ringtail cat across from the large lodge in El Portal just past the entrance station, and, in the main Valley itself, near the swimming pool / mailbox hutch at Yosemite Falls lodge. I have seen marten from the road in Sequoia between Giant Forest Village and Moro Rock. In the 1970s, washing dishes on the night shift at Giant Forest Village, each night I used to have to throw pots and pans at the black bears in order to drive them off of the dumpsters. My now deceased mother used to tell me how as a girl the tourists sat in cars around the open dump, waiting at night for the bears to show up there. Rangers encouraged this. Of course I am old enough to remember the “fire fall” in Yosemite Valley too. Oh those were wild times indeed.
    — Charles Hood

  6. Author
    tomeslice 10 years ago

    Thank you Charles!
    I’m well acquinted with police encounters in the United States… as I used to get speeding tickets on a monthly basis when I was in my late teens :-/ lol. But I would politely explain that I’m just driving to my hotel – as far as they are concerned the roads are open 24hours and I’m not spot lighting.
    That’s awesome about the ringtail – I’ll look in those areas. What time of day did you see them? That would be an awesome addition to my list! Really, any of wolverine, fisher, american marten or ringtail would be awesome, but I realize my chances are super low. I’ve seen american badgers before but I don’t have any pictures of them either, and the smaller weasels could be nice too – even the long-tailed which I’ve already seen.
    I’m not really after black bears; I’ve seen so many of them, even this year in Canada and in Big Bend in Texas.. But I do realize that dumpsters of hotels inside the parks may be good places to try for nocturnal animals.
    P.S. I was born in the mid-80’s so I can’t relate to those times 😛 lol.
    Thanks again!!

    • charleswhood 10 years ago

      In Yosemite, I had ringtail at 0400 hours (El Portal) and 2300 hours (main Yosemite Lodge). My former climbing partner has had them mid-day in Joshua Tree Park. In the Grand Canyon in summer it was just after dark. I don’t think any pattern is predictable. As Clint Eastwood said in the movie Dirty Harry (before you were born), “The question is, do you feel lucky?”

      • Author
        tomeslice 10 years ago

        I agree!
        Well, one of those trips I gotta get lucky, right? I’ve been searching late night hours through Vancouver island, Big Bend, Columbia River Gorge, etc. for these felids and mustelids and the only ones I’ve encountered so far this year were a brief long-tailed weasel in late afternoon in Oregon and an even briefer puma in Costa Rica.
        Though I certainly can’t complain about my luck in Costa Rica cuz I saw many of the neotropical species I was after.

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