Gentle Sunlight, Tall Sequoias, Autumn Hues

Head up to the giants for some good deals and great fall hikes.

AUTUMN STILL AHEAD: The national parks were closed were for over two weeks during the government shutdown of 2013, but now that they've reopened, it will be interesting to see if people return in bigger numbers than are typically expected this time of year. The weeks ahead will tell that tale, but bet on a healthy show of visitors, due, in very large part, to autumn's forward march. The fall foliage lookie-loo-ing is a major slice of a Sierra Nevada fall, but warm weather means there are still leaves turning even as we slide into the second half of October. So if you want to see some golden aspens here and there and admire the largest trees on the planet, you now can. Oh, and you say you want a stay-over deal, too? Sure thing.

THE WUKSACHI LODGE... in Sequoia National Park has a couple of fall-themed specials on. The Fall Foliage Package comes with a night at the hotel, a field guide card (that's where you'll get your tree info on your hikes -- you don't want to be turning to your phone, we'll guess, for info, and that's even if you get reception) and other goodies, like a box lunch for two. The Autumn Getaway also has a night at the Wuksachi, plus a backpack, trail map, trail mix, and other items that make a "let's find fall hues" vacation a wee bit easier.

OF COURSE... many trees in the mountains don't go full gold, giving their fir needles, so part of the fun of the search is finding that aspen grove or a berry-filled shrub that's taken on a bit of red. You will absolutely, though, feel fall temperatures dip at night, especially when you make the night walk between your room and the main Wuksachi lodge (be sure to get that flashlight at the front desk).

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