If you live or spend time up North Fork Drive or the Mineral King Road, you have undoubtedly noticed vehicles with occupants who look like they are lost. They look that way because they have been lost, usually bound for Sequoia National Park and following GPS data that’s askew.
It’s true there are entrances to Sequoia National Park at the end of North Fork Drive and 11 miles up the Mineral King Road, but the problem is that most visitors are looking for the main entrance of Sequoia that’s located at the end of Highway 198 at Ash Mountain, not those other off-the-beaten track accesses. These mistaken tourists eventually realize they are going the wrong way often after asking for directions. To date, none have resulted in a search or rescue, although there have been some life-and-death emergencies in Death Valley National Park due to incorrect GPS information as that climate is more extreme.
Locally, on a hot day with no gas or water, a breakdown on one of these routes is at the very least annoying but in other locales have resulted in tragedy. At the urging of one North Fork resident, Supervisor Crocker is working on the problem and hopes to have the situation resolved as soon as Caltrans can install a sign.
The new sign, assuming the tourist who is navigating looks up from their electronic device long enough to see it, will be placed on Sierra Drive, a short distance before the left-hand turn at North Fork Bridge.
Supervisor Crocker said he is hopeful the sign will resolve the navigation problem.
“The order [for the sign] was placed on July 25 and Caltrans said it will take three to six months to install,” Crocker said. “We asked to have it expedited sooner, but we didn’t get a commitment from them to do it.”
Crocker also said he has been in touch with Google to resolve the GPS issue but there has been no resolution to date on the technical side of the issue.