From the rolling, grassy foothills dotted with mighty oak trees to the fertile valley floor, there is plenty to see and do for every nature lover.
Located in downtown Visalia, Kaweah Delta Medical Center is a teaching hospital with five medical residencies and is the only trauma center between Fresno and Bakersfield. It offers a comprehensive scope of services including everything from a well-respected Level III NICU to nationally-recognized programs in orthopedics, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, and cancer care. Kaweah Delta is consistently recognized for overall hospital quality, as well as patient care by national organizations such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and The Leapfrog Group. For those in the Central Valley seeking care for conditions and illnesses that are not life threatening when their physician is unavailable, Kaweah Delta provides access to care through its rural health clinics, an urgent care, and Sequoia Prompt Care, a walk-in clinic that allows patients to skip the waiting room.
Bravo Lake Botanical Gardens
This 10-acre facility in Woodlake features an “agricultural theme” characteristic of the Central Valley’s farming region and heritage; the first garden of its kind in California. With more than one mile of gardens to explore, visitors can stroll, bike, or wheelchair through the lavish gardens. Be sure to give yourself enough time, because you won’t want to miss the citrus, exotic fruits orchard, a nut orchard, several annual and perennial crops, an aquatic garden, a rock garden, and roses, roses, and more roses.
Kaweah Oaks Preserve
This 322-acre preserve protects one of the last remaining Valley Oak riparian forests in California. Visitors can enter a timeless oasis that showcases what this region looked like more than 200 years ago when Valley Oaks carpeted the length of the Central Valley. Take a trail hike past Himalayan blackberries and rare native plant species, while being serenaded by dozens of local bird species and other wildlife. Feel adventurous? Perhaps you’ll spot a gray fox, a great horned owl, or even a Nuttall’s woodpecker. Four self-guided nature paths allow sightseers to explore a simpler time, and experience the sights and sounds that greeted Native Americans and early settlers when they came to this area.
Mooney Grove Park
Donned with enormous oak trees that Visalia has worked hard to preserve and protect, Mooney Grove Park is the perfect place for a family picnic or a game of disc golf. Surround yourself with nature and enjoy walking around the park grounds. Visit the lagoon, take a look at the historical statue, “End of the Trail,” or wander around the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture.
Dry Creek Preserve
The first example of an ecologically-based aggregate mine reclamation in Tulare County, this fully restored 152-acre nature preserve, provides critical habitat for an increasing amount of resident and migratory birds, and supports native species such as the great blue heron, the bald eagle, and mule deer. When spring arrives, the preserve welcomes visitors with a stunning display of wildflowers. Located just outside of Lemon Cove a short distance off Hwy. 198, don’t miss a great opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. Open daily from fall and into spring, and weekends-only during the summer due to fire danger.
Pixley Wildlife Refuge
As home to more than a dozen species of mammals and reptiles, and habitat for waterfowl and grassland bird species, this refuge is the perfect place to watch nature come alive. Take a relaxing walk along the 1.5 mile trail, lined with interpretive stations, or observe the sandhill cranes roosting in the wetlands from September to January, where more than 6,000 have been spotted at one time.
Lake Kaweah is located on the Kaweah River near Lemon Cove and the town of Three Rivers. At normal levels, it has a surface area of three square miles. It is in the foothills below Sequoia National Park and the Sierra Nevada range. High mountains provide a beautiful background for fishing and boating at this popular recreation area, located on the main southern route into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. For more information, and camping reservations, visit Recreation.gov.