In Your Backyard: Sierra Vista Scenic Byway
In this week's edition of "In Your Backyard," FOX26 Sports Anchor Nick King is driving the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway. The SVSB is about a 100-mile stretch of road, starting near the small Central California town of North Fork, and looping around to an endpoint on Highway 41, just north of Bass Lake. Even though it's only 100 miles in the car, you should plan for a good five to six hours to take it all in.
A byway is, by definition, a side road - a less-traveled, typically slower option. In this case, slow is exactly what you're looking for, because the drive is the destination.
Some of the best stopping points along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway include: Redinger Lake Overlook, Mile High Overlook, Jackass Meadow, Globe Rock, Jones Store, Fresno Dome, and Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias. While all those options are either right along the road or less than a mile hike from a parking area, there are countless more opportunities to go deeper. Chuck Borden, of the North Fork Visitors Center, says he's been on the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway hundreds of times, and he still finds new things to see every time he goes up.
"The scenery is a lot of forest, a lot of different plants, great views of lakes and rivers and mountains," explains Borden. "You can walk to many lakes, you can picnic up there, you can camp up there. I'd rather go up here than Yosemite. Mainly because you've got the views, you've got the environment, and no traffic."
Jack McGowan, of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association, adds, "When I first came up here, I drove out there, and I was thinking, 'ya know, this is like a hike in the Sierra. And I'm in a car. It's amazing. I mean, when you're hiking, you hike and you come out a little bit and you come out high and go, 'oh wow, look at this view.' It's that kind of experience, you know, really."
The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway is almost all paved road, and passable even for a small car. However, there are no gas stations, and only two places to stop for food or water. So consider loading up in North Fork, "The Exact Center of California."
And the final word, from Borden, "Just enjoy yourself immensely. Just get lost in nature. Which is really kind of a nice thing to do. Better than meditation, how's that? Haha."