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THE 10th YEAR!



   STAYCATION — It’s the buzzword of Summer 2008. With record-high gas prices, many are choosing to spend their summer vacation close to home. In addition, the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar against the euro has lured a record number of international travelers to American shores where national parks are a priority destination.
   Whether the visitors are coming from near or far, the BEST OF KAWEAH COUNTRY compiles the results of the spring readers’ poll in one informative and entertaining issue that serves as a guide when choosing where to eat, shop, play, spend the night, socialize, and sightsee.
   Thank you to those who took the time to complete and submit a poll, a record number of which were received again this year. And the winners are…


There’s nothing more unnerving for a family eating out than a restaurant that isn’t kid-friendly. So when it comes to family dining it takes one to know one, and the Sequoia Cider Mill Restaurant and its extended family is at your service, and according to TKC readers, doing the best job of ensuring a memorable family dining experience.
Martha creates the same home-cooked cuisine that her family has prepared at home for generations.

  “When you visit our restaurant, we treat you just like family,” said Efrain Ponce, the host and co-owner. “Come check out our new deck. The view really captures why we are all here in beautiful Three Rivers.”
   The Gateway Restaurant and the Pizza Factory are also among the best when it comes to great family dining. When the kids are happy, mom and dad are happy, too!

How many romances in the history of mankind have been kindled over a first date at dinner? Add into the equation an unsurpassed riverfront table where the Middle and East forks of the Kaweah River meet in scenic splendor.
   Is it any wonder why the Gateway Restaurant, with its unmatched setting, is the perennial favorite in this category? And Glenn McIntyre and his vibrant staff will cater to the whim of even the most hopeless romantic.

  “All we overlook at the Gateway is the river,” Glenn likes to say.
Other favorites with the lovebird set include a park getaway to the elegant Wuksachi Lodge restaurant and the casual but comfortable deck at the Silver City Mountain Resort where many a love connection has been made.

Location, location, location. The Gateway is simply the best location in the Kaweah Country nation. Year after year, that riverfront setting just can’t be beat.
   The best of all the rest include the Sequoia Cider Mill and the River View restaurants. In Three Rivers, eating out on the deck or patio is a breath of fresh air!

A dozen eateries and even Three Rivers Market and Jerky This received votes in this all-important category. Every vendor who sells food knows in these uncertain economic times most customers nowadays are on a budget.
   Be creative, be fair, and have something on the menu that’s good bang for the buck. The best there is in Three Rivers serving up tasty food with big portions is Sequoia Cider Mill.
   Other menu values that are worthy of a mention may be found at Super Taco (Woodlake), Sierra Subs & Salads, Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, The Buckaroo, We Three Bakery & Restaurant, Pizza Factory, and Anne Lang’s Emporium.

A wise man once said: “Never refuse an act of kindness because the one who gives gets far more than the one who receives.”
   When someone says, “It’s my treat,” it’s practically un-American not to go for broke or at least order the highest priced entrée on the menu.
   In Kaweah Country, for good eats when someone else pays it’s a two-horse race. Perennial favorites Gateway and Wuksachi are clearly the class of the lot and the hands-down choice when someone else pays.
   Some readers suggested a round at the Three Rivers Golf Course, and we always appreciate the outside-the-box responses. The $13 weekday green fees used to seem pricey to play nine holes, but that was before milk and gas both eclipsed $4 a gallon. Now 13 bucks is a bargain to play one of the most scenic courses this side of Pebble Beach.

When it comes to the morning meal, We Three Bakery & Restaurant has no peer and is the perennial numero uno in Three Rivers. Cider Mill, on the strength of its breakfast burritos, and Gateway, with its killer brunch, finished in a dead heat for second best among all the rest.

We Three took another first in this category thanks to old favorites like their famous tofu scramble. Both Serrano’s and Sierra Subs received plenty of votes and kudos from the veggie set.
   A couple of wishful thinkers could only pine for a bona fide vegetarian restaurant when pondering this specific category that is more often than not left blank. “I have a dream,” wrote one voter.

There are three very good Mexican restaurants in Kaweah Country and their menu selections are as diverse as the states of old Mexico. Serrano’s, with a bigger and better menu, scored an impressive win this year with Cider Mill and Super Taco (Woodlake) dividing the remaining votes.

  “We made a point to get back to the favorites that made our Fresno restaurants so popular,” said Aurelia, Serrano’s co-owner. “We even had Hector’s father, one of the founders of Toledo’s, come in and cook recently just to remind our staff the right way to do things. It has made a very noticeable difference and really spiced up our presentation.”

For more than a decade, and a certainty in every poll of Commonwealth readers, the beat just goes on for Todd Tashiro’s Pizza Factory. They toss ‘em and they are consistently awesome, according to voters.
   Everybody loves pizza, and residents and visitors alike can also get a great pie at this years’ runner-up River View. For the take-and-bake variety, there’s this year’s third-place finisher, Sierra Subs.

Take away all the rest because neck-and-neck for the very best are Sierra Subs and Anne Lang’s Emporium. It’s incredible to believe, but out of the hundreds of votes cast, Sierra Subs won out by just two votes!
   What’s so special about a sandwich? It’s the bread and everything in between. Whether it’s Laura’s place or Annie’s, each creation is a real piece of work with lots of good, fresh taste.
   Pizza Factory gets an honorable mention for their hot subs on fresh-baked bread.

There’s a reason trans fats are going to soon be banned in California eateries. Healthy is in, so what better way to get all the food groups with a reduced calorie count and fresh presentation than a scrumptious salad? Around this town, Sierra Subs does it best with varieties like Chinese chicken and a big fat Greek.
   Wuksachi in Sequoia National Park is the runner-up with Gateway coming in third. Both of these fine restaurants make their salads with a flair and are proof positive that there is so much more to a good salad than iceberg lettuce.

These categories are no brainers but tough to call because there are so many sweet treats and so little time. Reimer’s Candies is the overall winner, making world famous sweet treats for more than 50 years. Their ice cream is as homemade as it gets and has been a local favorite for three generations.
   For baked goods, We Three has no peer, but upstart Buckaroo is mounting a serious alternative with its piping hot cinnamon rolls.
   For pies baked fresh daily, the trip up to Silver City Mountain Resort is well worth the effort. The fresh fruit pies are made from scratch. Silver City serves only Maverick’s finest roasted coffee to wash that pie down.

  “We’re trying to buy local products like Bravo cheese and Village Market beef. We prefer to serve local foods whenever we can,” said Forrest Jones, Silver City’s general manager.

In the past few years, this critical category has alternated between the River View and Gateway restaurants, who finished second and third, respectively, in 2008. There’s a new burger on the block and it resides at The Buckaroo.
   The overwhelming choice for BEST burger is really not much of a surprise because it’s the creation of Dan Bullene, a fixture on the local cuisine scene for three decades. The $6.95 Angus Burger, grilled slow with a slice of onion and served with all the trimmings on a home-baked Kaiser roll is as good as it gets.
   The grill acumen of Forrest Jones at Silver City gets an honorable mention as does the Cider Mill’s burger offering. Efrain Ponce at the Cider Mill cooks his grilled entrees over olive and orange wood and slow cooking imparts some very distinct grilled flavor.

Gateway wins this BEST man food category. Rib eye, New York, top sirloin or filet mignon; it’s beef at its best and it’s what’s for dinner.
Wuksachi in Sequoia and Orange Blossom Junction at Merryman Station finished second and third, respectively. The flat iron sirloin at the Orange Blossom is a real crowd pleaser.

Sierra Subs is the clear winner in this category because they do it BEST by making the feast more movable. What’s the most popular item on the menu?

  “I think it’s a toss up between the Black Bear [roast beef with Ortega chiles] and the Cherry Falls [chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese with a honey mustard vinaigrette],” said Holly Snarr, a Sierra sub maker.
   Pizza Factory and Anne Lang’s finished second and third, respectively.
   Kudos to Gateway for offering green to-go containers for a slight charge. Leave the Styrofoam behind, folks, because it’s better for you and the environment, too!

For the very best ribs, chicken, links, and tri-tip voters, recommend heading to Village Market. These BBQ chefs grill over mountain oak and finish first annually in this category because nobody makes it tastier or easier to add a scrumptious meat to your next dinner or picnic in the park.
   The Buckaroo finished second because in addition to their BEST burgers they barbecue a veggie burger and buffalo burger, too! Rack ‘Em Out in Lemon Cove finished third on the strength of their great tri-tip and chicken sandwiches.

Locally-brewed java is BEST when sipping The Buckaroo’s “Uncommon Grounds.” They brew it fresh and keep the latte and espresso crowd buzzing. They also have gourmet teas, chai, and decaf with homemade breakfast treats, too!
   Silver City finished number two with its brew supplied by Maverick’s Roasting Company in Visalia; customers can buy whole beans and ground coffee for their mountain experience, too. Cider Mill finished third with a Douwe Egberts brew.

When you have that special day, event, or affair, who are you going to call? The best in Kaweah Country of the commercial caterers is Sierra Subs. Their freshly-prepared feasts can satisfy any occasion from fancy to casual.
   Maria Avila Reimer of Three Rivers, whose vegetarian and Mexican specialties are always in demand, finished with an astounding number of votes as runner-up.
   Gateway and the White Horse Inn, who can also set a classy table for any affair finished in a dead heat for third place.


Souvenirs are the all-important possession that grace every home and serve as a reminder of and talking point for every vacation. When a store contains “Souvenir” in its name, it’s safe to say that just the right memory will be found there.
   Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs is definitely the BEST bet, as folks overwhelmingly voted for this three-year-old Three Rivers shop. Three Rivers Drug came in second; Silver City was third (they’ve got stuffed marmot toys, for goodness sake). Other places to pick up a keepsake are Lodgepole Market and other Sequoia National Park outlets, Heart’s Desire, and Reimer’s Candies.

By an overwhelming margin of votes, Three Rivers Mercantile corners the market on where to stock up to play outside. A smattering of votes was also received for Lodgepole Market, Three Rivers Market, Kaweah General Store, and Rack ‘Em Out (Lemon Cove).

Three Rivers Mercantile also won this category, but had some competition. Rack ‘Em Out and Kaweah General Store came in second and third, respectively, as good stops for anglers heading for the river or lake. Voters recommend also bait-buying at the Kaweah Marina at Lake Kaweah.

Everybody loves a good deal. Here’s where to find them in Three Rivers.
   The Thingerie, the thrift shop that earns funds for the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, takes first place in this category every year and 2008 is no exception. Tied for second place, find some bang for your buck at Three Rivers Mercantile and My Sister’s Closet. And we love it when voters come up with something new like these suggestions: Local yard sales, local fruit stands, and Jerky This.

Heart’s Desire won this category and is obviously becoming the favorite shopping destination of many. Sequoia Gifts and the once-a-year Redbud Festival took second and third, respectively.
   Voters say that other places to find handcrafted quality include: Rio Canyon Rugs, Senior League Bazaar, and Kaweah Artisans Boutiques.

Whether for someone right next door or on the other side of the world, the BEST place to buy them a gift is at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs. And since they are an authorized UPS shipping outlet; they can get it where it needs to go right away.
   Second place goes to Heart’s Desire. Votes were also received for: St. Anthony Retreat gift shop, Three Rivers Drug, Three Rivers Mercantile, Rosemary’s Remembrances, Redbud Festival, Rio Canyon Rugs, Chump’s Videos & DVDs, My Sister’s Closet, Anne Lang’s Emporium.

Poll respondents like to check what’s new with the old at Rosemary’s Remembrances. Barby’s and the Lemon Cove Antique Shops tied for second place as the places to find an heirloom treasure.

Nobody goes home from vacation without at least one new T-shirt proclaiming where they’ve been or what they’ve done. The place to buy shirts that BEST describe the trip is Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs. Coming in a very close second is Three Rivers Drug, followed by Three Rivers Market, Heart’s Desire, Lodgepole Market, and Silver City.


Locals won out on this competitive category in which everyone has an opinion. The Ladybug Trail, this year’s BEST hike, begins at the end of South Fork Drive, 13 miles from Highway 198.
The foothills zone of Sequoia National Park offers hiking opportunities in winter and spring, before the oppressive heat of summer arrives. Although clear, sunny days lift the spirits and offer incomparable vistas, anytime in these seasons is a good time to hit the low-elevation trails.
   The hike from South Fork Campground to Ladybug Camp is less than two miles and is rewarding for so little effort. The elevation gain is less than 1,000 feet.
   Here are some other hikes that pollsters recommend: BLM-Skyline Drive, Middle Fork Trail, Marble Falls, Eagle Lake, Congress Trail, Farewell Gap, Moro Rock, Crystal Cave, Franklin Lakes, White Chief, Tokopah Falls, Crescent Meadow, Sawtooth Peak, Pear Lake, Azalea, Alta Peak.

Two challenging bike rides tied for the most votes, showing the mettle of the pedal pushers around here. Take your two wheels and head for the Bureau of Land Management’s property at the end of Skyline Drive and head out toward Salt Creek and Case Mountain for some dirt road and single-track.
   For an on-road challenge, voters picked the Mineral King Road. One intelligent voter added “down” to this preference, which definitely has its perks, such as faster and much less effort than the 25 miles and 6,700 feet vertical elevation gain on the up-route.
Other favorite bike rides are: Kaweah River Drive, North Fork Drive, Yokohl Valley, South Fork Drive, Generals Highway, and Three Rivers bike lane.
   And every year, a renegade or two votes for the Colony Mill Road. Since that route is within the boundaries of Sequoia National Park and the “road” is now technically a trail, it’s closed to bikes (which is a travesty for local riders who definitely need more off-road routes).

It’s another tie, this time between Sequoia National Park (which we assume means the main part of the park) and Mineral King (part of Sequoia, but off the beaten path).
   Pack the picnic basket and head out to these specific locations as selected by this year’s voters: Hospital Rock, Lake Kaweah, Crescent Meadow, Potwisha, Pinewood Picnic Area, Slick Rock, Giant Forest, Zumwalt Meadow.

Pitch the tent at Cold Spring Campground in Mineral King, voters say. If the area’s bruins tend to make you wary, rangers report that bear activity in the campground for the past two years has been almost nonexistent. Campers seem to be finally getting the message that it’s just not acceptable to feed wildlife.
   Other favorite spots to sleep under the stars and make s’mores by firelight are: Buckeye Flat, Atwell Mill, Kaweah Park Resort, Cedar Grove, Grant Grove/Azalea, Potwisha, Dorst, Three Rivers Hideaway, Lodgepole, Hume Lake.

The National Park Service has been concerned recently that not enough children are visiting national parks. Obviously, that’s not a problem in Three Rivers.
   The BEST place to take the kids is Sequoia National Park, so voted by an overwhelming landslide. Other places that are recommended by voters for a kids’ outing are: Mineral King/Silver City, Edison swimming hole, Slicky, Chump’s Videos & DVDs, houseboating, My Place playground, Ladybug meadow, Lake Kaweah, Three Rivers Library, Wildcat Haven (Squaw Valley), Crystal Cave, Slick Rock, Pizza Factory, Vacation Bible School.


   This is a new category this year and we originally intended to not declare a winner, but instead to just list everyone, since being of service to the community is not a contest. But the winner of this category is so deserving, has been serving Three Rivers for decades longer than anyone else listed, and received more than two times the votes of anyone else that he just has to be singled out.
   Pat O’Connell, Three Rivers’s one-man emergency road crew, who just recently retired from his 44-year career as a local tow-truck operator, is this year’s BEST local hero.
   Here are the other selfless citizens who work daily to make Three Rivers a better place: Volunteer Ambulance Crew and Firefighters, Sue Sherwood, Tom Sparks, Estelle Christensen, Pastor Warren L. Campbell (1926-2008; he passed away after the votes were tallied), Alexandra Picavet, Gary Cort, Louise Jackson, Margie Ewen, Scott Mullikin, Bill Haxton/Ken Elias (“for Concert on the Grass”), TCCRG (Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth), Johanna Kamansky, Dennis Villavicencio, Jim Fansett, Glenn McIntyre, Sandy Owen, Jack and Joyce Nielsen, “Our Place” moms, and Melanie Keeley.

We had all intentions that this new category be for local businesses who return a portion of their profits to the community. But a few nonprofits slipped in and they, too, are deserving of mention for the dollars they contribute to advance the quality of life here. The Thingerie, the Three Rivers Woman’s Club’s thrift shop received the most votes. Also garnering votes are these fine businesses: Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs, Pat O’Connell’s Towing, Flora Bella Farm, Cort Gallery, Rio Canyon Rug, Chump’s Videos and DVDs, 3 Rivers Cyber Café, Gateway Restaurant and Lodge, and The Kaweah Commonwealth.
   Other nonprofits that received consideration are: Three Rivers Ambulance, Three Rivers Lions Club, Three Rivers Historical Society, Tulare County Fire Department / Cal Fire, St. Anthony Retreat, and Three Rivers Bread Basket.

This is a category that is destined to grow in size as the years go by. More and more local businesses will be discovering that an important ingredient in the recipe for success is conservation.
One Earth Solar came out on top, which makes sense, as owner John Sturdevant is taking Three Rivers off the electrical grid one customer at a time.
   Silver City received second place. Think about it: the resort consists of cabins, chalets, a store, restaurant, hot showers, fresh-from-the-oven pies and ice-cold drinks, all without the benefit of electricity. Ingenuity abounds here.
   Voters also gave credit to these others who are doing their part for the planet: Sierra Home Performance, Sierra Garden Center, Bank of the Sierra, National Park Service-Sequoia, Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs, Cort Gallery, California Native Plant Society-Alta Peak Chapter, Kaweah White Water Adventures, Heart’s Desire, Ramon’s Recycling, Three Rivers Construction, Three Rivers Mercantile.


This category proves more challenging for the locals to vote upon as they don’t tend to stay in the hotels. But there is a lot of input from out-of-town participants.
   This year, Buckeye Tree Lodge won this honor as they did in 2006. It’s easy to imagine why: it’s a riverfront property with swimming pool, within easy walking distance to a restaurant, is the motel nearest to the Sequoia Park entrance, and the meticulous owners have upgraded the property and care about their lodgers.
   Comfort Inn & Suites came in second and Lazy J, last year’s winner took a close third. Others worthy of mention that received votes are: River Inn & Cabins, Western Holiday Lodge, Sequoia Motel, Sequoia Village Inn, Wuksachi Lodge, and Gateway.

Every year, this category is competitive as local B&B owners distribute polls to their clientele who, in such an intimate setting, become friends by the end of their stay.
   Almost too close to call, Three Rivers Bed & Breakfast eked out the lead in what was a neck-in-neck-in-neck race between Sequoia River Dance Bed & Breakfast (second place) and Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Lemon Cove (third place).
   Others receiving votes are Rio Sierra Riverhouse*, Younger Mountain House Lodge*, Wicky-Up Ranch (Woodlake), Log House Lodge*, Cort Cottage, Organic Gardens, River Oak Haven*. (*Newcomers in 2008 to the local B&B scene.)

This is such an important consideration when trying to plan a vacation with kids in tow. The right accommodations can make all the difference between the perfect getaway and the vacation from hell.
   Buckeye Tree Lodge snuck off with this category this year, dethroning perennial winner Comfort Inn & Suites (previously Holiday Inn Express), which came in second. Wuksachi Lodge pulled off third place, which is well-deserved as there is no better place to take the entire family for a vacation than Sequoia National Park, where all-inclusive means mountains, rivers, meadows, wildlife, and plenty of room to roam.
   Other vote-getters are: River Inn & Cabins, Lazy J Ranch Motel, Silver City Mountain Resort, Sequoia Motel, Kaweah Park Resort, Western Holiday Lodge, Sequoia River Dance B&B, Three Rivers B&B, and River Oak Haven.

Voters like the rustic elegance, the luxurious wildness, the mountain splendor of Silver City Mountain Resort. Celebrating 80 years next season (2009) of accommodating mountain travelers in the Mineral King area, the resort is under new ownership this year.
   Connie Pillsbury, who has had a hand in running the place since 1981, sold the resort last winter. The new owners — High Sierra Conservation Resorts Inc. — found the most knowledgeable general manager in Connie’s son, Forrest Jones, who was practically raised at the resort and is now a fixture there.
   Coming in second is Lake Elowin Resort on Dinely Drive, and third place goes to Kaweah Park Resort. Other area cabins receiving acknowledgment from voters are: River Inn & Cabins, Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, Hill Haven, Sequoia Village Inn, Grant Grove, Paradise Cabins (Mineral King Road), and Kaweah Park Resort.

Everybody who lives in Three Rivers has this quirky preference of wanting rooms with views. This is because we live in one of the most view-worthy places in the entire Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s important to us that our visitors receive this same amenity.
   So where can you best soak in the sights without leaving the bed?
Newcomer Rio Sierra Riverhouse on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River won out. Their newly-renovated lodging facility, just upriver from the popular Slicky swimming hole, has spectacular views of the river and surrounding foothills from nearly every angle.
   Also receiving votes are: Silver City, with some respondents making a point to mention the Paradise Ridge Chalet and the Shooting Star Chalet, St. Anthony Retreat, Younger Mountain House Lodge, Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, Western Holiday Lodge, Buckeye Tree Lodge, Sequoia River Dance B&B, Three Rivers B&B, Sierra Lodge, and Sequoia Motel.


River View Restaurant & Lounge wins this category hands down for the fifth consecutive year. They’ve got the riverside patio to hang out on and live entertainment almost nonstop in the summertime. They’re known far and wide, so visitors meet locals, patrons meet musicians, males meet females… you get the picture.
   The Gateway Restaurant, always a strong competitor in this category, actually was the reason the River View didn’t win back in ‘03. Gateway came in second in ‘08. Other places to make new friends, according to voters, are: The Buckaroo, Three Rivers Memorial Building/Town Hall Meeting, Jazzaffair, hiking, Silver City Mountain Resort, Three Rivers Mercantile, Sequoia Gifts, Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers Post Office, Kaweah River Drum Circle, Chump’s Videos & DVDs, the river, church, and Dr. Mosley’s office, which is definitely new to this category, but we can understand because people do love to chat it up while in the dentist’s chair with a drill hovering (actually, there is an extremely comfortable waiting room with a river view).

Three Rivers is home base for quite a few bands, but the breakout band that is known ‘round the world, but also remains the hometown favorite is the High Sierra Jazz Band.
   Here are voters’ other favorites that everyone should take the time to hear while they’re still playing the small venues: Mankin Creek, Huddleston Brothers, Wadaba and the West African Drum Ensemble, Still Water, Blue Lightning, Faena Brava, and Buckeye Flatts.

Because of that nonstop live entertainment mentioned in the “place to meet people” category, River View was voted the BEST entertainment venue. There are bands every Friday and Saturday night, Sunday afternoons on the river, and the popular Monday Night Jam, which is improv for musicians.
   Second place is the Orange Blossom Junction in the flatland near the Exeter turnoff. They have some impressive contacts and have been pulling in some well-known guitar-playing talent.
   Other local favorites to keep boredom at bay are: Lions Arena, Chump’s Videos & DVDs, Serrano’s, The Buckaroo, Three Rivers Memorial Building, St. Anthony Retreat, and The Gateway.

The name of this category was changed this year from “Annual Event” to “Local.” That was so it would open up the field to include something that had been held during the past year that was not necessarily a yearly occurrence.
   It didn’t matter because the Big Three still stayed at the fore: Jazzaffair (first place), Redbud Festival (second place), and Roping (third place).
   But because of the new wording of this category, there are also these BEST events that received votes: Monday Night Jam, Artists’ Studio Tour, Three Rivers Environmental Weekend, and Kaweah River Drum Circle.
   Other annual events garnering votes are: Three Rivers Carnival, Concert on the Grass, and the Fourth of July Talent Show at Silver City.

The place to be happiest for an hour or so is Gateway. Battling it out for second place is River View. Rounding out the field are: Wuksachi and Orange Blossom Junction.


I think we all know the answer to this one. Even though your houseguests may tell you they are coming to Three Rivers just to visit you, the real reason they are coming is to see Sequoia National Park (first place).
   People also voted for certain places within Sequoia: Mineral King/Silver City, Kings Canyon Highway, Wuksachi Lodge, Crystal Cave, and Moro Rock.
   Other vote-getters are: Swimming holes/the river, Reimer’s Candies, and Discoveries West Gallery & Archives.

Generals Highway won this category in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007. The Mineral King Road stole it away in 2006. And this year’s winner is…
   Mineral King Road by a nose. The Generals Highway came in second. And because we are blessed with so many scenic drives, here are the other vote-getters: Kings Canyon Highway, Dinely Drive, South Fork Drive, Highway 198 from Lake Kaweah to Sequoia (which has an application pending for an official designation as a “Scenic Highway”), North Fork Drive, and Dry Creek Drive.

So much to see, so little time. Here’s how voters rank what to visit from number one through four: Moro Rock, General Sherman Tree, Crystal Cave, and Mineral King.
If there’s still time, here are some other recommendations: “All the Big Trees,” Mount Whitney, Tokopah Falls, General Grant Tree, wilderness/backcountry, Hospital Rock, Crescent Meadow, Kings Canyon, Giant Forest, snow, hiking trails, and Heather Lake.

Kaweah Country may not be home to a Civil War battlefield, a meeting place of the Founding Fathers, or one of America’s earliest settlements, but we’ve got some fascinating history, too. For instance, the Kaweah Post Office (first place) is a lasting vestige of the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony, studied by historians worldwide.
There’s also the General Sherman Tree (second place), which is not only a natural resource, but a cultural one as well. The Mineral King cabins (third place) have their roots in the mining era of the 19th century and have many stories of close calls that threatened to end the community’s very existence.
Other votes for BEST visible history went to: Tharp’s Log, Hospital Rock, Paul Bunyan statue, Three Rivers Cemetery, Three Rivers Historical Museum, and Discoveries West Gallery.

With rising gasoline prices and the threat posed by climate change, anyone with a driver’s license is trying to adapt to driving less. Locals obviously dominated this category because bicycle came out ahead.
   It’s true, the side roads of Three Rivers are beautiful from the seat of a bike and the bike lane through the center of town assists if making daily errands. But there’s so much more that could be done to make the area more bike-friendly: open the Old Colony Mill Road for use as a day-ride destination and thru-bikers from Three Rivers to the Giant Forest; protect the old Visalia Electric Railroad right-of-way for future conversion into a bike path from Terminus Dam to Visalia; build a trail/bike path around Lake Kaweah; and continue widening Highway 198 through town with bike lanes.
   Second place went to the Sequoia Shuttle, which originates from Visalia; and third place goes to locally-owned and operated Sequoia Sightseeing Tours, which not only provides transportation, but information about the area from professional guides.
   Other ideas for leaving the gas-guzzler behind are: rafting, hiking, walking, and running. One respondent said “helicopter” while another gave us an entire roundtrip itinerary:
train - bus - shuttle - bike - hike - reverse.

As you finish reading this 10th annual BEST of Kaweah Country readers’ poll, our wish to you is simple, yet refreshing: May you soon be in the river, as this is where the large majority of participants advise as the place to be from June to September. Also hang out at Mineral King (second place) or Lake Kaweah (third place). Other voters said: Three Rivers Golf Course, a High Sierra lake, Reimer’s (ice cream), Crystal Cave (guaranteed to be 40 degrees), anywhere in Sequoia, home, backyard, and indoors!



THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
© Copyright 2003-2010 The Kaweah Commonwealth