Readers' Poll Results
OF KAWEAH COUNTRY (2007)
IT’S A UNIQUE
PLACE, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.
The name has become synonymous with the areas where the Kaweah
River flows. From the high reaches of the Sierra Nevada where mere flakes
of snow create five rivers. To the foothills where the rivers provide
sustenance to flora, fauna and, yes, humans. To the Valley floor beyond
Lake Kaweah where measured amounts of water still trickle along the historic
Central to Kaweah Country is Three Rivers, where three of
the five Kaweah River forks converge. Other Kaweah Country communities
include, from highest elevation on down, Wuksachi Village, Ash Mountain,
Kaweah, Lemon Cove, and Woodlake.
For the past nine years, The Kaweah Commonwealth has published
“BEST of Kaweah Country,” based on a readers’ poll distributed
each spring and submitted by residents, business owners, and visitors.
It’s the annual opportunity to celebrate the people and places that
make this region great.
The result is a multiplicity of voices and personalities
that capture the essence of what’s BEST in Three Rivers and all
of Kaweah Country. The input of so many locals is indispensable because,
after all, who knows this area any better?
So read on to receive inspiration on where BEST to feast,
partake in retail therapy, play outside, make new friends, and tour the
This is an all-important category and it varies annually, based on the
whims of the poll respondents. This year, the accolades go to the newest
restaurant owners in town, Efrain and Martha Ponce, at the Sequoia Cider
Mill. Martha just does what comes naturally: creating home-cooked meals
for family, which now includes all of Three Rivers and its visitors.
The Pizza Factory took second place; We Three Bakery came
in a close third.
As much as the Family Dining category varies, the Romantic Dining stays
the same. Gateway Restaurant retains its grip on the romance side of things.
The restaurant sweeps this category each year, so it’s
a given that this place oozes romance year-round. Show up on Valentine’s
Day, Mother’s Day or any other Hallmark-card holiday and reap the
flowers and bubbly that are growing and flowing for the most perfect of
Wuksachi Lodge came in second and Orange Blossom (Highway
198 near Exeter) garnered third place.
Location, location, location. Gateway just can’t be beat in this
category either. It’s prime real estate where the East Fork roars
into the Middle Fork and the restaurant’s decks capitalize on these
rapids. For a more temperate climate, stay inside as every table in the
dining room, also boasts a river view.
Under the oaks at We Three is another favorite, as is the
ever-expanding patio at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant.
It seems as though everyone has discovered Sierra Subs and Salads. So
this is the place to go to get a meal deal, but it’s not the last
category they’ve won or placed in this year.
Voters also like the prices at Sequoia Cider Mill and say
they get good bang for their buck at Super Taco (Woodlake), too.
PLACE TO GO WHEN
SOMEONE ELSE PAYS
Folks think that when it’s someone else’s treat, the Gateway
is the place to go to hand over the tab.
When someone says “My treat!” voters will also
venture up the hill to Wuksachi Lodge or down to the flatlands to Orange
To start the day off on the right foot, stop by We Three Bakery. In the
2005 Best of Kaweah Country, readers were lamenting that the bakery stood
closed. By poll season last year, We Three was newly renovated, open,
and winning in its categories once again.
Sequoia Cider Mill came in second; Hummingbird Cafe took
Hand it to Sierra Subs and Salads for providing meatless choices. Selections
include the Potwisha Portabella or Mountain Mozzarella sandwiches, Greek
or Veggie D’Lite salads, Vegetarian Quesadilla, Eagle View Vegetarian
or Clover Creek pizzas, and veggie burgers. When the weather cools, look
forward to a variety of soups, too.
Also, go meatless at Anne Lang’s Emporium and, tying
for third, We Three (one voter specified the Tofu Scramble) and Hummingbird
Café (another voter recommended both the Pear and Greek salads).
Maybe it’s the salsa. Perhaps the whole beans. Or is it the sauce,
the tortillas, or the original recipes that combine all of the above?
Whatever it may be, Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant is a favorite for
those craving the hot and spicy South-of-the-Border flavor.
Newcomer Sequoia Cider Mill came in second; Super Taco placed
The definition of “factory” is “A building with facilities
for the manufacture of goods.” And the one “Factory”
in Three Rivers is Pizza Factory, where the manufacture of pizza occurs
seven days a week.
The take-n-bake pizza at Sierra Subs placed second; River
View was a close third.
If they dare put “Subs” in their name, then they better make
fantastic sandwiches. And apparently voters think they do. Unseating Anne
Lang’s Emporium for the first time in the history of the poll is
Sierra Subs and Salads. With names that reflect Kaweah Country, the sandwiches
include the Alta Peak Club, Black Bear Grill, Manzanita Melt, Tokopah
Turkey, Cherry Falls Chicken, and River Rock Rye.
Anne Lang’s, the community’s mainstay for sandwiches,
came in second; Pizza Factory placed third.
Oh, and they put “Salads” in their name, too. Sierra Subs
and Salads has the largest selection of this healthy, refreshing dining
choice that’s offered anywhere in Kaweah Country. There’s
everything from the traditional Chef and Caesar salads to the creative
Chinese Chicken and Chicken Bacon Ranch salads.
The new deli salads are all homemade: Redbud Potato Salad, Buckeye Broccoli
Salad, Slicky Slaw, Bobcat Bean Salad, and Paradise Creek Pasta Salad.
And Sierra Subs helps diners break the habit of potato chips with their
sandwich by substituting upon request a deli salad with the purchase of
a Meal Deal.
Anne Lang’s deli delights came in second; We Three
was third (one voter recommended the Grilled Chicken Salad.)
Voters like to the end to their meals BEST at We Three Bakery.
Those with a sweet tooth may also head to Anne Lang’s
Emporium and Gateway.
If it’s fresh from the oven and sinfully delectable, then it must
be from We Three Bakery.
Voters also mentioned the fresh-from-the-oven selections at Nectar
Java and Juice and Sierra Subs.
For the all-American meal, head to River View Restaurant.
Voters also recommend biting into beef on a bun at We Three
and Cider Mill.
Whether really rare or well done, try the cuts at Gateway, voters say.
Orange Blossom is another place to go for a steak-out, as
Pack it up and take it with you at Sierra Subs and Salads. It’s
all made to be taken out to your kitchen table or on a picnic in the park.
Also, bring dinner home from Pizza Factory and Serrano’s.
The familiar aroma can be detected from a mile away, which makes it irresistible.
In fact, someone stopping in at the post office nearby might get a whiff,
then end up taking home the entire meal from the Village Market’s
Voters also like it off the barby by Lions Club members and
at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp (11.5 miles in on the High Sierra Trail in
Sequoia National Park). Said one voter of the Lions Club’s skill
at the barbecue, “Their pork loin is the BEST!”
The name has changed, but the coffee stayed the same at Nectar Java and
Juice (formerly The Cabin). Three Rivers’s only independently-owned
coffeehouse remains the favorite place to grab a jolt of java.
Voters also like to sip a cup at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs
and Anne Lang’s.
Homemade is just better, even if it’s someone else making it. For
the most refreshing treat in town, head to Reimer’s Candies, Gifts
and Ice Cream to take a lick.
Anne Lang’s also is a favorite for the frozen creation.
Orange Blossom came in third.
When people throw a party but want someone else to take on the food prep,
it’s Sierra Subs and Salads that takes the order.
Other favorites for hire to feed the party guests are Anne
Lang’s and Dan and Sharon Bullene.
PLACE TO BUY SOUVENIRS
To be forever reminded of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, stop
by Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs for the perfect memento.
Voters say also stop in at Three Rivers Drug and the Foothills
Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park.
One voter also mentioned that a souvenir may also be found
at any “Kaweah Commonwealth newsstand.” We concur.
PLACE TO BUY GROCERIES
Take the grocery list to Village Market voters say.
Three Rivers Market took second place. The new WinCo supermarket
(Visalia) came in third.
PLACE TO BUY
Anglers should stop in at Three Rivers Mercantile to find the hooks, lines,
and sinkers necessary to catch the big one.
Rack ‘Em Out (Lemon Cove), owned and operated by a
couple of fishing fanatics, is also a favorite stop, as is Kaweah General
Year after year, the BEST buy can be found at The Thingerie, the nonprofit
thrift store owned and operated by the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.
Shoppers looking for a bargain can also find it at My Sister’s
Closet. Voters also like the great deals on thousands of items at Three
PLACE TO BUY
Original works that are homegrown can be found at Sequoia Gifts &
Another venue for artwork by local talent is the annual Redbud
Festival, held each May. Heart’s Desire came in third.
PLACE TO BUY GIFTS
Find the perfect gift at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs.
Presents may also be purchased at Reimer’s Candies,
Gifts & Ice Cream and Heart’s Desire.
PLACE TO BUY ANTIQUES
Rosemary’s Remembrances is where to go to find something new that’s
The Lemon Cove Antique Shops is another “old”
favorite. Also, treasures may be found at Barby’s in Three Rivers.
PLACE TO BUY T-SHIRTS
Take your pick between Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs and Three Rivers
Drug. Voters say these are the places to go for Three Rivers and Sequoia
Three Rivers Market also offers a unique selection of T-shirts
that advertise the town we like BEST.
The Tokopah Falls trail (Lodgepole, Sequoia National Park) and Mineral
King are the best places to take a walk in the woods.
The Ladybug Trail at the end of South Fork received second
place; Congress Trail was third.
Another tie. North Fork Drive and the Mineral King Road took top honors
for the perfect place to pedal. One voter commented that North Fork Drive
is their favorite bike ride “when bull dog owners control their
The BLM’s Salt Creek Trail and Kaweah River Drive received
To enjoy le pique-nique extraordinaire, pack the brie and truffles and
head to Mineral King to find the perfect spot.
Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park received the second-most
votes; Lake Kaweah is another favorite place to spread the blanket and
open the basket.
One voter said, “Anywhere that the altitude makes the
Cold Spring in Mineral King is where folks say they want to pitch their
tent most often.
Buckeye Flat, near Hospital Rock in Sequoia, took second
place. Kaweah Park Resort, a private campground in Three Rivers, came
PLACE TO TAKE THE KIDS
There’s a new playground in town called Our Place, and it’s
the BEST place to let the kids be kids. There are swings and slides and
weekly programs for kids provided by community members.
Sequoia National Park came in second place, with votes being
received for Crystal Cave, Lodgepole, Giant Forest Museum, Crescent Meadow,
and Mineral King. In other words, the BEST place for kids is outside!
St. Anthony Retreat’s Gift Shop received the most votes by a margin
of one. Since newspapers aren’t very good at keeping secrets, here
are all the BEST-kept secrets in Kaweah Country:
Slicky, Creekside Yarns, Lake Kaweah, We Three has WiFi!,
a great massage, Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast, backpacking opportunities,
Jerky This!, River Inn, Three Rivers, Community Presbyterian Church choir,
river swimming, Wadaba the local West African drummer, Cort Cottage, the
independent film section at Chump’s, backyard at the Buckeye Tree
Lodge, Ice Cream Social, Annie’s Mountain Dogs, and free magazine
exchange at the Three Rivers Library.
And there are many voters who can be trusted to keep a secret,
because they write: “I won’t tell!”
Here’s another category where every business that received votes
deserves a mention for offering stellar service and giving Kaweah Country
its friendly reputation.
Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs received first place in this
category; Chump’s Videos and DVDs came in a close second. Here are
the rest of the friendliest places on Earth:
Three Rivers Mercantile, Heart’s Desire, Three Rivers
Market, Village Market, Sierra Subs and Salads, Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce visitor center, Pat O’Connell’s Service, Gateway,
Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Plantation Bed and Breakfast, Three
Rivers Drug, Century 21 Three Rivers, and Three Rivers Chevron.
The Sequoia Gifts / Sierra Subs / Creekside Yarns triplex won this category
once again this year. Reimer’s Candies and Chump’s Videos
and DVDs tied for second.
But, again, everyone who received votes deserves special
mention for their efforts to beautify Kaweah Country:
Three Rivers Mercantile, Heart’s Desire, Nectar Java
and Juice, Three Rivers Market, Anne Lang’s, Wuksachi, Sierra Garden
Center, Century 21 Three Rivers complex, Nadi’s Studio, and Silver
HOTEL / MOTEL
The BEST place to lay your head besides home sweet home is Lazy J Ranch
Coming in second and third, respectively, are Comfort Inn
and Suites and River Inn and Cabins. Also receiving votes are: Sierra
Lodge, Lake Elowin Resort, Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia Motel, and Buckeye
BED AND BREAKFAST
Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast on the eastern outskirts of Woodlake
consists of a historic house on an organic citrus ranch. And Monica Pizura,
who owns the ranch and B&B with her husband, Jack, is a direct descendant
of the original developer of the property and, obviously, a wonderful
Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast and Plantation Bed and Breakfast
received honorable mentions.
The BEST place to stay when traveling with the kids is Lazy J Ranch Motel.
Other kid-friendly locations are Comfort Inn and Suites and
The number-one choice year after year for the most rustic lodging is Silver
City Resort. This is most likely the case because it’s a cabin that’s
clean and comfortable.
In second place are the tent cabins at Bearpaw High Sierra
Camp. In third place is Lake Elowin Resort.
SWIMMING POOL/HOT TUB
Voters say the pool at Comfort Inn and Suites is the most refreshing place
to take a dip.
In second place is Lazy J. And in third place, and certainly
deserving of mention, is Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast. This local lodging
facility is owned by the community-minded husband-and-wife team of Catherine
Launey and Peter Sodhy. The philanthropic couple noticed that Three Rivers
doesn’t have a community pool for children to splash and play in
during the hot summer months, something that is a traditional summer gathering
place in so many small towns across America. So they took action. Each
Tuesday morning this summer, the Three Rivers B&B pool is open to
the public... for FREE!
PLACE TO MEET PEOPLE
To make a new friend or two, head to River View Restaurant and Lounge.
It’s the social-gathering hot spot.
Also socialize at Nectar Java and Juice, the second-place
vote-getter. And proving how many locals have a hand in this poll, third
place goes to the Three Rivers Post Office. Show up weekdays around noon
to meet the essence of Three Rivers community members as they make their
daily mail run.
They have been playing world-class jazz for 30 years and are a name synonymous
with Three Rivers. High Sierra Jazz Band transcends all genres of music
as folks of all ages and from all walks of life voted them the BEST local
band again this year.
In second place is Buckeye Flatts. Tied for third place is
Wadaba and the Traditional West African Drum Ensemble and Faena Brava.
People like watching the bands at River View BEST. The facility actually
has two venues from which to choose, indoors and outside on the riverside
The second favorite is Lions Arena. In third place is the
Three Rivers Memorial Building.
It’s a tie, which makes perfect sense because these are two of the
BEST springtime events anywhere: Jazzaffair and Redbud Festival.
Three Rivers Roping rides into second place. In third place
is a Three Rivers tradition for more than a half-century, the school’s
River View is the BEST place to be at 5 p.m. To quote one voter, “Duh!”
Wuksachi Lodge is another place to hang out for a very enjoyable
60 minutes. Tied for third place are Sister’s Mountain House (Badger)
and Orange Blossom.
Adding new perspective to a happy “hour,” a vote
was received for “Church” and another for “when the
kids are being good.”
Paul Bischoff of Sequoia Sightseeing Tours was voted the best person to
hang out with to learn the lay of the land. (For more on Paul, see this
week’s “Neighbor Profile” on page 4.)
Frank Root, who owns Kaweah White Water Adventures, came
in second. In third place is Sequoia Natural History Association, which
offers various expert instructors for its annual field seminar program
and also includes this year’s winner, Paul Bischoff.
There’s no place like it in the world. Take a drive from Three Rivers
to the General Sherman and General Grant trees and you’ll realize
why the Generals Highway was named, as well as voted BEST scenic drive.
The Mineral King Road drove away with second place. South
Fork Drive garnered third place.
PLACE TO TAKE AN
Of the 23 different listings received, 11 of them were park-related:
Sequoia National Park, Giant Forest, Moro Rock, General Sherman Tree,
Crystal Cave, Mineral King, Congress Trail, Wuksachi Village, Tharp’s
Log, Hospital Rock, and Giant Forest Museum.
NATIONAL PARK ATTRACTION
The General Sherman Tree is this year’s must-see attraction in Sequoia
After viewing the largest tree on the planet, take a jog
to the summit of Moro Rock before heading down to Crystal Cave.
Other votes received include: Big Trees, Grant Grove, Tharp’s
Log, Giant Forest, Mineral King, Crescent Meadow, Congress Trail, and
The little, teeny, itsy, bitsy Kaweah Post Office is most voters’
favorite piece of history. This local State Historical Landmark was built
in 1910 and is a lasting vestige of the Kaweah Colony, a 19th-century
utopian experiment. The post office is still in operation today.
Tharp’s Log, located near Crescent Meadow in Sequoia
National Park, came in second place. The Three Rivers Historical Museum
took third place.
PLACE TO BE AT
SUNSET / MOONRISE
Once again, we bid farewell as the sun sets on the BEST of Kaweah Country
2007. Moro Rock ran away with this category… again. Lake Kaweah
came in second, which as most commuters know, contributes much to a sunset
and a moonrise. Little Baldy, an easy 1.75-mile hike off the Generals
Highway in Sequoia National Park, came in third place.
And then there’s the early-to-hit-the-sack voter who
wrote: “In bed!”