SUMMERTIME AMONG THE GIANTS: It's hard to choose a favorite time of year to visit the sequoias, because every time of year possesses numerous charms. Summer is for shorts and short-sleeves, when long hikes rule and late twilights and the ability to stay out past midnight, star-watching, without having to dash inside in search of a fireplace or heavier jacket. Winter sees fewer visitors up the mountain, and there is that delightful crunch, crunch, crunch that boots against the snow in a silent sequoia grove produce. As for spring and fall? Sweet breezes and crisp winds punctuate the so-called seasonal shoulders of the year. But there are only a few months when you can stay at some of the places around the Big Trees, the warmer months, so in this respect -- the respect of having a wider number of hotel offerings -- summer is king. Cedar Grove Lodge in Kings Canyon is one such spot, and while it typically has a springtime opening, its 2015 debut is truly on the early side: Friday, May 8.
GOOD DEALS: Not only does the early opening invite fans of the 21-room lodge a chance to get near to North Dome, Roaring Falls, and Muir Rock, but there are "special early season rates" to be enjoyed as well. Rates start from $109 per night -- think Sundays into Thursdays -- and move to $135 over the weekends for a standard room. Is the lodge "creekside"? Yes, which is refreshing on a toasty late spring day. Is it open into fall? For sure. Think the middle of October. Can you get to the General Grant, the most famous tree within Kings Canyon? The beloved (and behemoth-big) sequoia is 35 miles from the lodge. Which gives you another clue about where you'll be staying: It is "geographically remote" at Cedar Grove Lodge, so if you've been wanting to go deeper, and beyond the popular sights of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, and to make it more than a daytrip, this could be your overnight. For the other nearby wonders, and the lodge's come-early-and-save special, point your walking staff this way, nature hiker.