Bear sightings, pepperoni pizza, and alpine hikes are all part of a day’s work for Robert Lewis, a park ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We asked him to share his best tips for your next visit.
Best easy hike for visitors?
Head for Moro Rock before 9 a.m., climb to the top, and look down into the Central Valley and enjoy the views. Visibility can be hazy depending on the air quality, which can lead to a good discussion about what we can do to reduce ozone pollution.
What’s your favorite park animal?
The mountain chickadee, which I call the “cheeseburger bird” because of the way its call sounds. After several days in the backcountry, the chickadee’s call reminds me of what I crave—a cheeseburger, fries, and an ice-cold Diet Coke.
Where should visitors go to see bears?
Go to a place like Crescent Meadow or Halstead Meadow at sunset or sunrise. Walk silently and listen for the sound of bears rooting around. (And don’t forget to protect our bears by storing food and scented items in bear boxes.)
What’s your favorite park holiday?
Labor Day. The crowds disperse, there are less mosquitoes, it’s cooler during the day, and evenings are perfect for sleeping outdoors. Soon the fall colors will begin.
Favorite food stop in the parks?
I get a pepperoni pizza at Stony Creek Lodge whenever I’m driving between the two parks.
Favorite sunset spot?
In winter, it’s Triple Divide Pass, where three crests come together.
Favorite spot to begin the day?
In summer, I love seeing sunrise in the aptly named Evolution Basin as the new day dawns.
How can visitors help protect Sequoia and Kings Canyon?
Leave the areas you visit cleaner than you found them and leave no trace of your visit. Become stewards of the park.
What’s the best part of your job?
Sometimes when the visitor center is closed, a motivated parent will track me down to administer the Junior Ranger oath to their child. It’s a great feeling to pin the new recruit into the order.