Rivers at a Glance
/ Contact DFW
Things to Do
||1,000 to 2,000 feet
||Hot, dry summers; mild, wet
warm days, cool nights in fall;
spring days become gradually warmer.
||Tulare County (unincorporated
Three Rivers Community Services District.
County sheriff and fire protection.
||Three Rivers: on Sierra Drive
Kaweah: on North Fork Drive
|| 93271 (Three Rivers)
Eggers Dr.; open Tuesdays, Thursdays,
Wednesdays, and Fridays
playground at Three Rivers Library.
|| Three Rivers Union
41932 Sierra Dr. (kindergarten-eighth grade, 140 students);
Woodlake High School District (18 miles);
College of the Sequoias (community college)
in Visalia (35 miles), CSU Fresno (70 miles)
chiropractor, dentists, volunteer
firefighters. Ambulance/paramedics in Lemon Cove (12 miles). County of Tulare Fire
Station (year-round); Cal Fire Station (summer).
Kaweah Delta Hospital - Visalia (32 miles
west).Children's Hospital Central California (75 miles)
|| The Kaweah Commonwealth
41841 Sierra Dr.
||Village Shopping Center,
behind Village Market and Three Rivers Drug (non-flush);
Foothills Visitor Center, Sequoia National Park entrance (flush);
Lake Kaweah (flush and non-flush, depending on location).
||Slick Rock Recreation Area (Sierra Drive at Lake
Cobbleknoll Trail (east of Slick Rock);
and Sequoia National Park. (See The
Kaweah River: Enjoy it at a distance
for precautions when in the vicinity of
this wild river.)
above phone number is where to lodge a complaint
Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
|| 37° F.
Three Rivers —
the gateway community to Sequoia National Park — is one of the most scenic
locales in all of California. The four distinct seasons create a desirable
climate for year-round living. Located at the entrance to California’s
first and oldest national park, Three Rivers is conveniently located in
the Sierra Nevada foothills halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The full-time population is 3,000 at the most, including outlying ranches
Three Rivers was
settled in the 1860s as a ranching community with convenient access to
summer pastures in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The town’s
namesake is the three forks of the Kaweah River — Middle, North and South
— which converge in Three Rivers. There are actually five waterways —
including the East and Marble forks — which create the diverse and dramatic
Three Rivers has two
banks, five churches, a family-practice physician, two dentists, library,
hardware store, veterinary services, an elementary school and funeral services. There are
two well-stocked grocery stores and several convenience stores to serve
the daily needs of residents and visitors. There are restaurants specializing
in fine dining or casual dining; several along the riverfront and with
live music, much of which is local talent. Auto services and 24-hour
gasoline are available to keep things running smoothly.
Tourism is the
main industry of Three Rivers, which is located in an unincorporated area
of Tulare County. The National Park Service is the largest employer. Lodging
includes riverside inns, poolside motels, a range of bed-and-breakfast
experiences, and campgrounds and RV parks. Residents include artists
and craftspeople, shopkeepers, innkeepers, small-business professionals,
retirees, commuters, ranchers and farmers.
THINGS TO DO
Three Rivers features
crafts and artists’ galleries, theater and musical groups, and a weekly
newspaper. There’s a world-famous candy store and many specialty gift
stores that make shopping a pleasure.
Don’t miss a
drive up North Fork Drive to the Kaweah Post Office for a glimpse into
the past. The Kaweah Cooperative Colony was a utopian socialist experiment
started in 1886. For several years it attracted international attention,
and many settlers came to the area to further their ideals. Unable to
secure title to the land, the organization ceased to exist after 1892,
leaving as one of its tangible reminders the Kaweah Post Office, located
three miles up North Fork Drive. The small wood-frame building was relocated
to its present site in 1910. It has been designated a California State
For the physically
active, there’s hiking and biking; rock-climbing, boating, swimming and
fishing; and guided whitewater rafting.
There are dozens
of service clubs and civic organizations, which sponsor many annual activities;
a plant nursery; and organized hikes and walks.
Take a drive along
the North or South Fork roads and enjoy pastoral scenes of contented cattle
and horses munching grass, orchards and farms, oak trees and wildflowers,
rivers and ponds, and beautiful rolling hillsides.
features an array of annual events. There are also impromptu barbecues,
music festivals, and art exhibits year-round. Annual traditions include
Jazzaffair, a jazz festival that draws thousands of visitors each April;
the Redbud Arts and Crafts Festival each May; and Team Roping, a four-day
event during the last full weekend in April, which keeps alive the local
Rivers wildlife includes bear, deer, mountain
lions, opossum, raccoons, skunks, fox, bobcats,
coyotes, rabbits, and more. Bird life consists
of, but is not limited to, eagles, hawks, ravens,
quail, great blue herons, owls, blue jays, hummingbirds,
woodpeckers, mourning doves, western bluebirds,
and mallard ducks. The fish population
includes bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, catfish
and rainbow trout. Reptiles include lizards,
frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles and several
species of snakes including rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnakes are poisonous and deserve respect.
They are defensive creatures that only bite
if they feel threatened. Please appreciate
the local wildlife, but don't touch or disturb
If an animal-vs.-human attack
has occurred, call 911. If having a problem
with nuisance wildlife or if there is an injured
or orphaned animal call the California Department
of Fish and Wildlife's regional office, 559-243-4005.
For poaching or polluter complaints, call the
24-hour Cal-Tip line: 1-888-334-2258. For more
information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov.
stay in Three Rivers, click Hotels)
National Park was established in 1890.
It is the nation’s second oldest park
(after Yellowstone, 1872) and California’s
first. Kings Canyon National Park was
established in 1940.
the boundaries of these two parks are the world’s largest trees (Sequoiadendron
giganteum), the deepest canyon in America (Kings), and the highest mountain
in the contiguous United States (Mt. Whitney, elevation 14,495 feet above
your stay— More than 1,200
campsites and a variety of lodging accommodations
are available. For camping information,
call 559/565-3341. For in-park lodging
information in Sequoia, call toll-free 888/252-5757;
Kings Canyon, 559/335-5500.
and shopping— Delaware North Parks Services-Sequoia operates
the dining concessions in Sequoia National Park. Full-service dining is
available daily at Wuksachi Village; a deli and snack bar are at the Lodgepole
Canyon Park Services Company operates the food-service facilities in Kings
Canyon National Park at Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. They also operate
a restaurant at Stony Creek in Sequoia National Forest.
are three markets and several souvenir and gift shops located in the parks.
to see— Six miles above the Ash Mountain entrance station is Hospital Rock. Pictographs and 50 grinding holes are evidence
of the occupation of Native Americans that lived in the area until the
Cave is a spectacular specimen of the more than 100 caves located
in the parks, the largest cave system in California. It is open for tours
May - September). Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Foothills
and Lodgepole visitor centers; tickets are not available at the cave.
Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park
Rock is the large granite dome that can be seen directly up-canyon
from Three Rivers. The quarter-mile trail to the top has nearly 400 steps.
Once on top, the view is unparalleled of the Great Western Divide and
the San Joaquin Valley.
Forest is one of the most spectacular
and accessible of the 30 groves of giant sequoias
within the parks’ boundaries. With its
beautiful meadows, blooming dogwood, and many
miles of easy walking trails, it is Sequoia
Park’s most famous and beautiful attraction.
The General Sherman Tree, at the north end of Giant
Forest, is 2,300 to 2,700 years old and the world’s largest living thing.
Grove, another beautiful grove
of Big Trees, is home to the General Grant Tree,
also known as “The Nation’s Christmas
Canyon was described by John Muir as “a rival to Yosemite.” It
is sculpted by the beautiful Kings River.
and backpacking— An extensive
network of trails transects the parks with options
from handicapped-accessible nature walks, to
easy and moderate day hikes, to extended backcountry
travel. Trail information, maps, and guidebooks
are available at park visitor centers —
Foothills, Lodgepole, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove,
and Mineral King. Park
trail conditions and backcountry information
may also be obtained by calling 559/565-3341.
A(lta ) to Z(umwalt):
Twenty things to do
Whether a visitor or a resident,
here is some great stuff to do that maybe you
haven’t thought of or taken the time for…
1. Alta Peak
It’s the peak that is seen directly up-canyon
from Three Rivers. The peak, at 11,204 feet
above sea level, is easily accessible via a
7.5-mile trail that begins at the Wolverton
area in Sequoia National Park. The last mile
to the top is the most challenging on the trail,
but worth the effort. Allow an entire day for
the roundtrip hike, take plenty of water, and
pack a jacket because weather changes quickly
on top of the world. Season: Summer
2. Crystal Cave
Even the underground is spectacular in Kaweah
Country. Crystal Cave is located off the Generals
Highway in Sequoia National Park, about 14 miles
from the Ash Mountain entrance. Tickets for
the guided tours must be purchased in advance
at the Foothills or Lodgepole visitor centers.
For the tour schedule, call 565-3759.
3. Field Seminar
Knowledgeable instructors lead courses that
include hiking and backpacking, skiing and snowshoeing,
children’s seminars, cave tours, and lessons
in flora and fauna, and range in length from
an afternoon to several days. Organized by the
Sequoia Field Institute, an offshoot of Sequoia
Natural History Association, a nonprofit park-support
group (565-4251). Season: Year-round
4. General Sherman Tree
If you can only take the time for one, then
you might as well visit the largest tree in
the world. The giant sequoia is located in Sequoia
National Park, about 20 miles and a little over
an hour travel time from the Ash Mountain park
entrance. Season: Year-round
5. High Sierra Trail
From Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park,
this trans-Sierra trail travels 71 miles east
to Mount Whitney, at 14,495 feet, the highest
mountain in the lower 48. Season: Summer
/ Early Fall
6. Horseback riding
Tour the trails of the Sierra via a saddle,
for an hour, a day, or a week. Visit Cedar Grove
Pack Station (565-3464) or Grant Grove Stables
(335-9292) in Kings Canyon National Park or
Horse Corral Pack Station (565-3404) in Giant
Sequoia National Monument. Trail rides available
year-round in Three Rivers at Wood 'N' Horse
Training Stables (561-4268 or www.wdnhorse.com/trail_rides.htm).
7. Hospital Rock
Originally inhabited by Native American tribes,
the name of the rock originates from a time
when the white man was beginning to explore
the region as well. Located on the Generals
Highway, six miles from the Sequoia Park entrance.
8. Kaweah Post Office
Located on North Fork Drive three miles from
Highway 198 in Three Rivers, this structure
is significant because of its association with
the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony, a utopian experiment
that attracted members from throughout the U.S.
and overseas from 1885 to 1892. The post office,
one of the smallest in operation in the nation,
was originally located at the Colony’s
Advance camp, farther up the North Fork, but
was moved several times as need warranted. The
post office was designated a California Historical
Landmark in 1948.
9. Kings Canyon Highway
It’s one way in and one way out on this
mountain highway, but it’s worth the drive
to view the deepest canyon in America. The highway
descends 2,500 feet in just over 10 miles and
the sheer granite canyon walls are dizzying.
Season: April through mid-November
10. Lake Kaweah
Recreational opportunities abound here. Rent
a houseboat, fish, swim, picnic, camp, and visit
the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center.
11. Mineral King Historic District
The road from Three Rivers to Mineral King is
just 25 miles in length, but takes 1.5 hours
or more to negotiate. Built over 125 years ago,
the road is little changed, and time stands
still for the cabins and the landscape in the
Mineral King Valley as well. Listed on the National
Register of Historic Places in 2003, the alpine
valley once was the site of an 1870s mining
May through October
12. Moro Rock
From Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park,
take the scenic Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road
and follow the signs for 1.5 miles to the parking
lot. Then it’s just 400 more steps to
the top of this monolith where, on a clear day,
the 360-degree view includes the Great Western
Divide of the Sierra Nevada range and the San
Joaquin Valley below. Season: Open when
If it’s history you want, it’s history
we’ve got. Three Rivers Historical Museum
(561-2707), located where the 17-foot tall Paul
Bunyan statue meets the highway, houses items
and exhibits from Three Rivers’s past.
Giant Forest Museum in Sequoia tells the story
of the national park and its famous trees. Season:
14. River Road
This three-mile stretch of dirt road in the
Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park
is a scenic side trip along the Kings River,
accessible by car, but better enjoyed by bicycle.
Spring through Fall
15. Shopping, shopping...
Forget the big box stuff, Kaweah Country shopping
is about smaller retail outlets that range from
discount to upscale. Find everything from postcards
to clothing, the whimsical to the eclectic,
locally-made candy to Three Rivers-created natural
body products, and souvenirs to yarn, clothing,
antiques, plants, and creations by the many
artists who call Three Rivers home. Season:
16. The Kaweah Commonwealth
Pick up a copy of The Kaweah Commonwealth or,
better yet, subscribe. Every week, it’s
loaded with news, commentary, photos, and visitor
information that fulfills our mission of: “We’ll
tell you things you won’t read, hear,
or see anywhere else.”
17. Three Rivers highways and byways
There is so much more to Three Rivers than Highway
198. Take the 10-mile scenic drive (or bike-ride)
to the end of South Fork or North Fork drives
to view foothills, wildflowers, rivers, and
more, depending on the season. Season:
18. Tunnel Rock
It’s a curiosity under which millions
of Sequoia National Park visitors passed for
70 years. Located on the Generals Highway about
2.5 miles from the park entrance, the highway
has since been rerouted around the rock, but
a turnout and sidewalk allows visitors to recall
a time when cars were lower and slower. Season:
19. Whitewater rafting
It’s a seasonal thrill on the Kaweah River
to take a professionally-guided whitewater rafting
tour. Several companies offer trips, including
Three Rivers-based Kaweah White Water Adventures
(561-1000). Season: Spring
20. Zumwalt Meadow
A one-mile, self-guided nature trail and boardwalk
around this grand specimen of a Sierra meadow,
located in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon
National Park. Season: Spring through
it at a distance
Middle Fork of the Kaweah River and
blooming yucca, also known as the Lord's
The National Park
Service and the residents of Three Rivers strongly recommend that
visitors coming into town and to the nearby national parks stay
well away from the river and off the slippery rocks that border
The Kaweah River's
first victim in May 2003 was an 11-year-old boy who fell into the
raging water and, despite search-and-rescue efforts, his body was
not recovered until several months later and several miles downstream.
In 2004, there were no drownings because the snowpack was minimal
and spring runoff not as dramatic.
In May 2005, the
Kaweah took the life of a young man who was at the river with friends
to celebrate his 21st birthday. His body was discovered a day later
about five miles downstream from where he was last seen.
Spring snowmelt creates
extremely strong currents and very cold water, making the river
a deadly place to be. Every year, an unsuspecting visitor gives
into the temptation to enter the water and accidentally slips in
by walking too close to the water. Every year, there are those who
dont make it out alive.
- Stay off rocks near the rivers edge.
- Never go to the river alone.
- Never mix alcohol with swimming.
- Never enter the water head first; a feet-first
entry is safer, but never jump into
water that is less than nine feet deep.
- Always expect strong currents, undertows, underwater objects,
and sharp drop-offs.
- If you fall into rapids, try to turn your body so you are in
a sitting position with feet first.
- Maintain constant supervision of all children.
- Adults should know how to swim; teach children water safety
as soon as possible and teach them to swim beginning at age three.
- Take a CPR course; a significant number of drownings have been
prevented because parents have had these skills.
- Never swim if you are too tired, cold, or
far from safety.
- Never swim if you have had too much sun, alcohol,
or strenuous activity.
Kaweah River's Middle Fork is a succession
of descending rapids and steep falls.
The Middle Fork of the Kaweah
- Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to a river emergency:
- Children in trouble in the water might not yell out or flail.
- To pull someone from the water, lie on your stomach on the shore,
dock, or boat, and reach an object to the struggling person, such
as a long stick, T-shirt, or anything else at hand.
- If in the water with a potential drowning victim, they may try
to hold on to you, which could pull you under too, so instead
grab them from behind with your arm under their chin and across
their chest so they are on their back and you can do a modified
sidestroke to safety.
Middle Fork of the Kaweah River is treacherous
when brimming with spring snowmelt.
warnings (because it cant be said enough)
TEMPTED by the deceivingly inviting water. Its a trick.
The river is dangerous,
cold, and unpredictable. The shoreline can be steep and is bordered with
water-polished rocks that are slippery when wet or dry.
realize this is not a city park. The river contains underwater hazards,
drop-offs, swift currents, and undertows, none of which are pointed out,
posted, or obvious to see.
At this time of
year, swimming in the river can be as dangerous as falling in, and whichever
way you enter, getting out may not be an option. If you do get out, hypothermia
becomes the danger, so get out of the wet clothing and into dry clothing,
a blanket, and/or sleeping bag.
out of the river, see above for additional river safety tips.
When you take
a walk in this park, its not always a walk in the park.
If walking in a city, we all understand the importance of crosswalks and
traffic lights, as well as the risk we take if we cross a street without
looking its dangerous, but by understanding the hazards,
we arent fearful.
same when visiting Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, but you cant
rely on signs and lights to protect you. Only YOU are solely responsible
for YOU. You must embark on your recreational adventures completely
informed of the risks in order to keep you and your loved ones and friends
There are basic
rules of safety to follow:
rattlesnake coiled in the defensive striking
scared, because they dont come looking for you. But, yes, they are
poisonous, so when in rattlesnake country, be alert. Dont step over
rocks or logs without checking the other side. Dont climb rocks
without seeing first where your hands will be placed.
Never try to handle
a snake and dont provoke them. This is how many bites occur.
If bitten, stay
calm and seek medical help immediately. Bites are rarely fatal, but it
is imperative that the wound be treated immediately to avoid severe tissue
Poison Oak: This shiny green shrub is at its most beautiful during spring, but if
it has leaves of three, let it be. (The leaves turn red in
the autumn, then fall off in winter, making the plant hard to identify,
yet it is still potent.)
Prevalent in the
foothills, if any part of the body or clothing has come into contact with
poison oak, change and wash as soon as possible. Even if you dont
think you touched poison oak, if hiking or exploring outdoors in the foothills,
make it a habit to shower or bathe as soon as possible.
Ticks: During and after any walk or hike in the foothills, check yourself and
others in your party for ticks. When walking, wear light-colored clothing,
which will make the insects easier to spot, and tuck pant-legs into your
socks, so they cant be exposed to your skin.
A tick, which
is about the size of freckle, will attempt to burrow its head into your
skin, then take up residence, using your blood as sustenance. To remove
a tick, tweezers work best, but it is necessary to make sure that the
entire tick is removed, including the head.
Ticks may carry
Lyme disease, which is a chronic, recurrent inflammatory condition characterized
first by a bulls-eye reddening of the skin, then joint pains, fatigue,
and sometimes neurological disturbances.
Wildlife: Dont feed them! This immediately minimizes any risk of disease,
injury, or damage to property caused by animals who call Three Rivers
and Sequoia home.
cute when hanging around at a picnic, but the
various types of squirrels and other rodents
have fleas that can carry plague. Mice droppings
can have hantavirus, which can be contracted
not just by touching, but by inhaling as well.
and skunks, opossum, raccoons, coyotes, and others can also carry rabies.
Marmots, most infamously in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, enjoy
chewing on the hoses accessed from the underside of cars. This can cause
significant damage, and it is important to check under the hood for fluid
leaks or brake-line damage prior to driving the vehicle, if parked in
rare sighting of a mountain lion in Three
Mountain lions are a rare sight, but they are here. Its best to never hike alone
and keep children within view.
Never run away
from or turn your back on a mountain lion. Instead stand your ground,
raise arms to appear larger, pick up children, and fight back if attacked.
Just like Yogi,
the black bears that inhabit Kaweah Country would like to steal
or your ice chest or any other smelly, tasty item that
is left within easy grasp. It is important to never let a bear have human
food because thats when it could become aggressive and dangerous.
them from a distance, never come between a mother bear and her cubs, and
dont ever feed a bear. Once they taste human food, they are smart
enough to know its easy to get again, but cant possibly realize
that it causes destructive behavior (such as breaking into cars, slashing
tents, or boldly approaching humans) that can only lead to its execution.
Weather: In the Sierra mountains, the weather can change quickly. Always keep an
eye on the sky.
Watch the weather
forecast and plan accordingly, whether driving or hiking, if snow is predicted.
If you hear thunder
or see lightning, take appropriate action. Do not climb Moro Rock, and
stay out of meadows and water.
Now, grab a pack,
a water bottle, snack, and the sunscreen and get outside, off the road,
and enjoy your stay in Kaweah Country. Its wild!