Sequoia National Park, established in 1890, is the second oldest national park in the United States and is renowned for its giant sequoia trees. These ancient trees, among the oldest living organisms on Earth, symbolize resilience and longevity. The park holds cultural significance due to its association with Native American tribes who have inhabited the region for thousands of years. The Yokuts and Western Mono people consider the park’s landscapes, wildlife, and plants integral to their spiritual and cultural practices.
Sequoia National Park is known for its unique features, particularly its giant sequoia trees. These trees thrive in the park’s environment due to factors such as high altitude, abundant rainfall, deep winter snowpack, and a fire regime that facilitates their growth. The park’s towering granite cliffs, deep canyons, and roaring waterfalls also contribute to its extraordinary features, shaped over millions of years by geological processes and natural forces.
The park experiences a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Summers are generally pleasant, but visitors should be prepared for sudden changes in weather, including afternoon thunderstorms. Winters bring colder temperatures and heavy snowfall at higher elevations. Precautions such as staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen, dressing in layers, and being aware of wildlife, including black bears, should be taken by visitors.
The peak season for visiting Sequoia National Park typically spans from late spring to early fall, with June to September being the busiest months. During this time, the weather is generally favorable, and all park facilities are open. However, it’s important to plan ahead, make reservations, and arrive early to secure parking, as the park can become crowded.
Sequoia National Park has three main entrances for visitors to access the park. The Ash Mountain Entrance, located in Three Rivers, California, is the southernmost entrance accessed via State Route 198. This entrance provides access to the Foothills Visitor Center and is convenient for visitors coming from Southern California. The Big Stump Entrance is located in Kings Canyon National Park, adjacent to Sequoia National Park, and can be accessed via State Route 180 from the north. It grants access to Grant Grove, home to the General Grant Tree, one of the world’s largest sequoias. The Wuksachi Village Entrance, situated along State Route 198, is in the central part of the park and provides access to the Giant Forest and Lodgepole Visitor Center.
For RV travelers, it’s important to note the restrictions on rig sizes within the park. Due to the park’s narrow and winding roads, vehicles over 22 feet in length and trailers over 24 feet in length are not recommended on the Generals Highway between Hospital Rock and Giant Forest. These restrictions aim to ensure safe navigation and minimize traffic congestion. Moreover, campgrounds within Sequoia National Park have size limitations for RVs. While many campsites can accommodate RVs up to a maximum length of 30 feet, a few sites can accommodate larger RVs up to 40 feet. However, availability may be limited, especially during peak seasons, so it’s advisable to make reservations in advance.
RV travelers should also be prepared for the park’s road conditions, which can be steep and winding. It is recommended to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for up-to-date information on road conditions and any temporary restrictions. Additionally, services within the park, such as fuel stations and the general store, may not be suitable for larger RVs, so it’s important to ensure you have sufficient supplies and fuel before entering the park.
It’s essential to anticipate mountainous roads that are characterized by their narrowness and winding nature. These roads are not suitable for those who are easily intimidated or traveling with a larger load. Unexpected changes in elevation can also take place along these routes.
The availability of RV parking space at Sequoia National Park varies at different locations, including visitor centers, trailheads, and points of interest. Size restrictions often prevent vehicles longer than 22 feet from accessing many areas of the park. However, there are still campgrounds that can accommodate smaller RVs, campers, and trailers. It is important to note that parking conditions for RVs inside the park can be limited due to size restrictions and high demand, especially during peak seasons.
The park operates a shuttle bus service that allows visitors to conveniently access various areas of interest within the park. The shuttle service operates during the summer season, typically from mid-May to September, providing free rides for visitors. The shuttles are wheelchair accessible and cover various areas such as the Giant Forest, Lodgepole, and Wuksachi within Sequoia National Park. Additionally, a round-trip touring ride is offered, taking visitors to neighboring towns like Visalia and Three Rivers before heading to the Giant Forest Museum. Additionally, there are walking paths and trails that provide opportunities for exploring the park on foot.
Known as the “Gateway to the Sequoias,” Visalia, California, is located near Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. For a stay in the area, the Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA provides accommodation. This campground welcomes large rigs up to 70 feet in length. Guests can choose from grassy or shaded gravel pads equipped with water and electricity, or opt for full hookups with power up to 50-amps. The campground offers various recreational amenities, including a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, a pool, a children’s playground, and a dedicated Kamp K-9 dog park. For convenience, there is a snack bar on-site, and guests can stay connected with cable TV and Wi-Fi services. Firewood and propane are also available for purchase within the campground.
Located in the heart of Sequoia National Park, Lodgepole Campground is highly popular due to its convenient location and ample amenities. Situated near the Giant Forest and the Lodgepole Visitor Center, this campground offers over 200 campsites, some of which can accommodate RVs. Amenities include flush toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, food storage lockers, and access to potable water. It also provides easy access to hiking trails, the Tokopah Falls, and the scenic Marble Fork of the Kaweah River.
Situated in a peaceful forest setting, Dorst Creek Campground is known for its serene atmosphere and proximity to various trailheads. Located near the Giant Forest, this campground offers over 200 campsites suitable for tents and RVs. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, food storage lockers, and potable water. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, including the nearby Big Baldy Trail, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Positioned alongside the Kaweah River, Potwisha Campground provides a picturesque setting and a tranquil camping experience. This campground offers around 40 campsites suitable for tents and RVs. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, and potable water. It offers easy access to the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River for fishing and swimming, as well as proximity to the Hospital Rock and Ash Mountain Entrance.
Nestled among oak trees and located near the Ash Mountain Entrance, Buckeye Flat Campground is favored for its peaceful ambiance and scenic surroundings. This small campground offers approximately 28 campsites suitable for tents and smaller RVs. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, pit toilets, and potable water. It provides access to the Hospital Rock and easy access to hiking trails in the Foothills area.
Potwisha Campground remains open year-round, but it transitions to a fully first-come, first-served basis after the reservation periods end. It is a popular destination for visitors, particularly during peak seasons, thanks to its pleasant atmosphere. Summer visitors should be prepared for hot weather, while those visiting in winter will find a snow-free haven. The campground offers spacious sites that can accommodate vehicles of decent lengths, including multiple pull-through sites.
Situated just four miles from the entrance of Sequoia National Park, Potwisha Campground is a highly sought-after location. It is nestled along the middle fork of the Kaweah River and is surrounded by majestic oak trees. During summer, the campground can get quite warm, while it remains free from snow during the winter months. With a total of 42 sites available, RVs, campers, trailers, and tenters have plenty of options to choose from.
Reservations for Potwisha Campground are available from May through September, and for some sites, reservations must be made year-round. The campground includes a fully accessible site, ensuring that Sequoia National Park remains accessible for all visitors. While weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends at the campgrounds, it’s important to note that popular campgrounds can still fill up quickly, even on weekdays. It’s advisable to arrive early in the day to increase your chances of securing a campsite, especially during peak periods.
Located in Three Rivers, Three Rivers Hideaway offers a variety of camping options, including RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. They provide amenities such as full hookups, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, a camp store, and river access for fishing and swimming.
These lodging options, located in Three Rivers, offer comfortable accommodations close to Sequoia National Park. They provide a range of room types, including cabins, suites, and rooms with modern amenities like Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and private bathrooms.
South Fork Campground offers 10 tent-only campsites and is situated in a primitive area. It can be found 13 miles from CA-198 on South Fork Drive. Nestled in the foothills of the south fork of the Kaweah River, the campground showcases a transition from oaks to evergreen trees. It’s important to note that some parts of the road leading to the campground can be rough, so it is not advisable to drive cars without high clearance. While food storage lockers and vault toilets are available, there is no access to drinking water at this campground.
Situated within Sequoia National Park, Wuksachi Lodge offers a higher level of comfort and amenities. The lodge features well-appointed rooms, a full-service restaurant, a cocktail lounge, a gift shop, and guided interpretive programs. It’s an ideal option for those seeking a more luxurious stay.
Guided snowshoe walks in Sequoia National Park are easy, fun, and a unique way to explore the majestic giant Sequoias. The walks provide a perfect setting for snowshoeing, with the orange trunks of the trees standing out against the white snow, creating a stunning backdrop. These popular walks are offered by the park’s rangers, weather permitting, in the Giant Forest area, and they are free of charge. They cater to beginners and provide an opportunity to learn about the park’s history and unique geographical features.
To ensure comfort during colder weather, it’s advisable to dress in layers and stay warm. It’s also a great idea to bring drinking water and a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate to enjoy with your family and friends during your snowshoeing adventure. The combination of snowshoeing amidst the giant Sequoias and the opportunity to learn and appreciate the park’s natural beauty makes guided snowshoe walks a must-do activity in Sequoia National Park.
The Generals Highway, a scenic road spanning 33 miles through Sequoia National Park, is a designated National Scenic Byway that connects the two parks, Kings Canyon and Sequoia. This remarkable roadway showcases diverse landscapes, including mountains, canyons, and forests, with celebrated Sequoia groves lining both sides. Along the way, popular trailheads can be found, leading to well-visited overlooks and rocky ridges. Traveling the Generals Highway offers stunning views and access to key attractions such as the Giant Forest, home to the massive General Sherman Tree, as well as Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow.
While the road provides a captivating drive, caution is necessary due to its narrow and winding nature. Travelers should stay informed about any road closures or restrictions that may be in effect. Winter weather conditions can make travel challenging, so it is essential to come well-prepared. The weather in the area can be unpredictable, so having enough creature comforts to sustain you during potential waiting times for snowplows is advised. Don’t forget to bring along a camera to capture the beautiful sights encountered along your highway journey, as there will be plenty of breathtaking vistas to record in Sequoia National Park.
Cross-country skiing in Sequoia National Park is a popular winter activity. The park offers a variety of trails suitable for all skill levels. Visitors can enjoy gliding through snowy meadows and among towering sequoia trees. Safety precautions, such as dressing in layers and carrying essential supplies, should be followed. Cross-country skiing provides a serene and exhilarating way to explore the park’s winter landscapes and connect with nature.
The Pear Lake Winter Hut offers a unique winter experience in the park’s backcountry. Located at an elevation of 9,200 feet, the hut provides overnight accommodations and beautiful views. Accessible via an 11-mile snow-covered trail, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing or cross-country skiing to reach the hut. The area offers opportunities for outdoor activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and winter hiking. After your trek, you can find comfort in a warm and inviting cabin equipped with a pellet stove that comes with pellets for heating. It serves as a well-deserved retreat. Reservations are required, and visitors need to bring their own sleeping bags and food.
Sledding in Sequoia National Park is popular in the designated area near Wolverton Meadow. Located in the Giant Forest region, Wolverton Meadow provides a spacious and gentle slope that is well-suited for sledding. This area is accessible and offers ample space for families and visitors to enjoy the winter activity. It’s important to note that sledding is only permitted in designated areas for safety reasons and to protect the park’s natural resources. Enjoy the snowy fun of sledding in the designated area of Wolverton Meadow while appreciating the beautiful surroundings of Sequoia National Park.
Fall is a great time to explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, such as the Congress Trail or the Lakes Trail. Enjoy the vibrant autumn colors of the changing foliage while taking in the beauty of the Giant Forest and the surrounding landscapes.
Moro Rock is a prominent granite dome in Sequoia National Park. A short but steep hike leads to the summit, where visitors are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Great Western Divide and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Safety precautions should be taken while climbing the stairs, and accessibility may be limited for some individuals. Moro Rock offers a memorable experience and a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the park.
Crescent Meadow, known as the “Gem of the Sierra,” is a picturesque meadow in Sequoia National Park. Surrounded by towering sequoia trees, it offers a serene setting for relaxation and exploration. Hiking trails, including Tharp’s Log Trail, start from the meadow, providing opportunities to discover history and enjoy the diverse wildlife. Crescent Meadow is a family-friendly destination and a peaceful escape in the beautiful Giant Forest.
The Giant Forest Museum in Sequoia National Park offers informative exhibits on the giant sequoia trees, park history, and cultural significance. It serves as a visitor center, providing essential information, ranger programs, and guided walks. The museum also features a gift shop and facilities such as restrooms and picnic areas. It’s a must-visit destination for an immersive experience and understanding of the park’s natural and cultural heritage.
The Alta Peak Trail in Sequoia National Park is a challenging 14.5-mile round trip hike with stunning panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail begins at the Wolverton Trailhead and takes hikers through diverse landscapes. It’s important to check trail conditions and be prepared with proper gear and supplies for a safe and rewarding experience. Reaching the summit offers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
Ranger Programs offer educational and interactive experiences led by knowledgeable park rangers. They cover topics such as wildlife, geology, ecology, and cultural history. Visitors can join guided hikes, campfire talks, nature walks, and evening programs to learn about the park’s diverse ecosystems and rich history. These programs cater to all age groups and provide hands-on experiences. Popular programs include stargazing and Junior Ranger activities. Participating in these programs enhances visitors’ understanding of the park, fosters stewardship, and deepens their appreciation for its natural beauty and cultural significance.
Enjoy the warmer weather by camping in one of the park’s scenic campgrounds, such as Lodgepole or Dorst Creek. Experience the beauty of starry nights, enjoy campfire meals, and embark on daytime hikes or nature walks.
Embark on an epic backpacking adventure along the High Sierra Trail. This 72-mile trail traverses some of the park’s most stunning landscapes, including pristine alpine lakes, towering peaks, and expansive meadows. Summer is the prime time for backpacking, allowing you to experience the trail’s challenging yet rewarding terrain.
Cool off in the refreshing waters of the park’s swimming areas, such as the popular Kaweah River or the serene Hume Lake. These locations provide a chance to relax, picnic, and enjoy water activities during the summer heat. Relax on the sandy beach, enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear water, or rent a kayak to explore the serene surroundings.
Enjoy a refreshing hike to Tokopah Falls, a 1,200-foot cascading waterfall that is particularly spectacular during the summer months when the snowmelt swells its flow. The trail is relatively easy, making it suitable for families and individuals of all skill levels.
Located in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, the General Grant Tree is a must-see attraction. Stand before this magnificent sequoia, also known as the Nation’s Christmas Tree, and marvel at its grandeur. Take a guided tour led by knowledgeable rangers who will share insights into the tree’s historical and cultural significance. As you stroll along the interpretive trails, you’ll discover fascinating facts about the General Grant Tree, including its age, size, and the ceremonies that have taken place beneath its branches.
Situated in the remote wilderness of Sequoia National Park, Marble Falls is a captivating 100-foot waterfall that is a hidden gem awaiting discovery. To reach this natural wonder, embark on a scenic hike along the Marble Falls Trail, starting from Potwisha Campground. As you traverse the trail, you’ll be greeted by stunning vistas of wildflowers and the rushing waters of the Kaweah River. Capture breathtaking photos and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this picturesque setting, making it a favorite spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.
Located within the Giant Forest area of Sequoia National Park, the Big Trees Trail offers a leisurely paved loop through the awe-inspiring groves of giant sequoias. Begin your journey at the Giant Forest Museum, where interpretive signs provide valuable information about the park’s unique flora and fauna. As you walk beneath the towering sequoias, spring brings a burst of color to the forest floor with vibrant wildflowers in full bloom. Take your time to admire these ancient giants, some of which are thousands of years old, and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Giant Forest.
Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Crystal Cave is a stunning underground wonderland. After its winter closure, the cave reopens for guided tours in the spring. Located near the Giant Forest, Crystal Cave offers a unique opportunity to explore its mesmerizing formations, including intricate crystals and stalactites. Delve into the cool depths of the cave and learn about its geological history from knowledgeable guides. Remember to secure tickets in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly due to the cave’s popularity among visitors.
Discover the scenic beauty of Sequoia National Park from a different perspective by embarking on a horseback riding adventure. Several guided horseback riding tours are available, providing a unique and serene experience amidst the park’s natural surroundings. Saddle up and traverse picturesque trails, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Spring offers an ideal time for horseback riding, as you can witness the vibrant bloom of wildflowers dotting the landscapes. Feel the gentle rhythm of your horse’s hooves as you explore the park’s serene meadows, forests, and valleys, creating unforgettable memories along the way.