Lace up your boots and head to Sequoia National Park: Land of Giants, home to the largest trees in the world. Sitting at number 23 on our list of US national parks, Sequoia is famous for its groves of old growth giant sequoias. And the plunging peaks and steep mountain hikes? Those might come as a surprise to first-time visitors. With elevations ranging from 1,300 feet up to 14,500 feet, this dynamic park features rolling foothills, deep canyons, majestic mountains, marble caves, and, of course, those giant sequoias. Enjoyable through all seasons of the year by bike, drive, climb, shoeshoe, ski, or horseback ride, this off-the-beaten-path California national park is a gem to all who to explore it. From the best things to do in Sequoia National Park to the best campgrounds in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, this guide covers everything you need to know to plan your trip to the land of the giants.
Sequoia National Park Guide
Where is Sequoia National Park?
Sequoia National Park is located in the southern section of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is connected to Kings Canyon National Park by the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway – a beautiful 50 mile stretch connecting the two parks. In fact, visitors often combine Sequoia and Kings Canyon into one magnificent visit.
Sequoia National Park is an hour and 20 minutes southeast of Fresno, the largest nearby city and takes you through the small towns of Visalia and Three Rivers. Drive a quick 120 miles north to visit California’s most famous national park: Yosemite National Park. And, if you dare, head roughly 360 miles west to visit Death Valley National Park: one the hottest and driest places in the western hemisphere.
Sequoia National Park Facts
- Sequoia National Park sits adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park, and the parks are administered jointly by the NPS.
- Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States, stands at 14,505 feet tall and is located in Sequoia National Park.
- The Monache Native Americans were the first known inhabitants of Sequoia.
- Sequoia was the second national park established in the US. It was protected in 1890 to preserve the giant sequoia trees from logging.
- General Sherman, the largest tree in the world in terms of cubic volume, lives in Sequoia National Park.
- Sequoia trees actually benefit from wildfires. Their thick bark keeps them fire resistant and the fires help release good nutrients back into the soil. In addition, the fires are necessary for Sequoia reproduction.
- With a wide elevation range from 1,300 feet to 14,500 feet, the wildlife and ecosystems are very diverse with over 1,200 species of plants and over 300 species of animals.
Getting to Sequoia National Park
Fresno is the closest major city and is located about an hour and twenty minutes from Sequoia when entering through the Ash Mountain Entrance near the town of Three Rivers. Head South on CA-99 and take exit 97 to CA-198 E. Continue on CA-198 E into the park.
Sequoia National Park Weather
All four seasons offer spectacular experiences in Sequoia National Park. Most people visit in the summer, making it more crowded than other times of year. Temperatures in the summer vary depending on elevation. Although the lower foothills of the park are very hot, the sequoia groves located at higher elevations are often more comfortable.
If intense hikes are your thing, you’ll probably opt for the spring or fall weather when days are generally warm and nights are cooler. The moderate temperatures make for a more comfortable time spent outside. In the fall, the whole park is usually open and accessible. In the spring, some of the park roads may remain closed because of snow. Rivers and creeks can be high and remaining snow can make areas inaccessible, but this is when wildflowers start to bloom.
Winter is the least popular time to visit. Many roads close and tire chains are required. While lower elevations of the park remain accessible, access to higher locations can vary, but if you’re prepared, visiting in the winter is uniquely special and beautiful.
Sequoia National Park Hours
Sequoia National Park is open year round: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The park varies drastically in elevation and weather heavily affects road conditions. Some roads close during the winter until they are plowed. Generally, year-round services are open at Grant Grove, the Foothills, and Giant Forest & Lodgepole. Cedar Grove and Mineral King areas are open after roads are clear, generally from late spring through fall. Check the park’s current conditions for daily updates.
Sequoia National Park Entrance Fee
Entrance fees last for 7 days upon arrival; they are $35 per car, $30 per motorcycle, and $20 per person on foot or bicycle. An annual pass is $70 and an “America the Beautiful” Pass, which permits access to all US national parks, is $80 a year.
Sequoia National Park Lodging
Whether you are planning an RV trip, tent camping at a campground, glamping in rustic cabins or relaxing in a lodge with all the amenities, there are many options for places to stay within Sequoia National Park and the surrounding areas.
Cabins are a fantastic option if you are wanting to connect with nature without sacrificing the amenities of a hotel. Sequoia National Park offers a wide range of cabin options, from rustic glamping tents or cozy lodges.
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There are plenty of resorts, hotels, hostels, inns and B&Bs within a quick drive of Sequoia National Park. Here are some of our favorites.
Planning a night under the stars? Here are some of the best campgrounds and campsites inside and outside of Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park has some of the most spectacular sights to behold – from the largest tree in the world to the highest mountain top in the contiguous United States.
Hiking in Sequoia National Park
If you’re ready to stretch your legs (but not sure where to start), here’s a list of our favorite hiking trails in Sequoia National Park.
Easy, perfect for families:
- Moro Rock Trail (0.4 mi; 180 ft gain)
- General Sherman Tree Trail (1 mi; 160 ft gain)
- Big Trees Trail (1.2 mi; 60 ft gain)
- North Grove Trail (1.5 mi; 350 ft gain)
- Beetle Rock (0.5 mi; 20 ft gain)
Moderate, fairly strenuous:
- Tokopah Falls Trail (3.4 mi; 500 ft gain)
- Marble Falls Trail (7.5 mi; 1,600 ft gain)
- Giant Forest Loop Trail (6.7 mi; 1,200 ft gain)
- Big Baldy Ridge Trail (5.5 mi; 1,400 ft gain)
- Little Baldy Trail (3.3 mi; 800 ft gain)
Hard, experience recommended:
- Mount Whitney (23 mi; 6,700 ft gain)
- Mount Langley (23 mi; 4,700 ft gain)
- Alta Peak Trail (15 mi; 4,100 ft gain)
- Twin Lakes Trail (13 mi; 3,200 ft gain)
- Heather Lake via Watchtower Trail (8 mi; 2,100 ft gain)
Sequoia National Park Tours
There are a handful of ways to explore the park. Join a Ranger-Led Program for an educational moonlight walk, climb up Moro Rock, or stroll through the sequoia groves. In the winter, tag along on a ranger-guided snowshoe walk.
For a full-day guided experience at the park, sign up for a Sequoia Parks Conservancy tour. They offer private tours that meet in the park and are customizable for your group.
If you want to avoid driving into the park and you’re staying in Three Rivers, join Sequoia Sightseeing Tours to ride with experienced guides around the park. Check out park highlights on either a half- or full-day trip.
Crystal Cave is one of the best things to see in Sequoia National Park, but because of the fragile nature of the cave, only available by tour. Tickets to Crystal Cave can be pre-purchased through the Sequoia Parks Conservancy.
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