One of the best parts of California is how easily accessible its National Parks are. Starting in Los Angeles, you can reach four beautiful destinations within 7 hours. We’ll focus on the Yosemite and Sequoia road trip sections. This guide is a perfect getaway for anyone wanting to see two of the most magical parks in the nation. So let’s dive into this Yosemite and Sequoia itinerary and get your all ready for a fantastic trip.
Below, you’ll find a handful of activities to plan your trip. I’ve designed this to include moderate difficulty levels for families who enjoy hiking, camping, and time outside!
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Yosemite and Sequoia Roadtrip
Can you do Yosemite and Sequoia in one day?
Yes, you can, but it will be a long day. As you can see below, it is about a 4.5-hour drive between the two parks. In my guide, you’ll be able to do activities in both parks. Just be prepared to move fast for both!
How many days to see Yosemite and Sequoia National Park?
I think a six-day trip is pretty darn good to see both parks. Obviously, the longer, the better as you can spend weeks in each and hardly crack the surface. But overall, a six-day itinerary will let you see a ton of things.
Is Sequoia or Kings Canyon better?
Great question. Sequoia National Park is better on the surface and has more accessible things (Congress Trail, Moro Rock, More tree groves, etc.). Kings Canyon, though, has incredible backpacking (Rae Lakes basin), and a lot of it is harder to reach than what’s connected to the road.
Yosemite and Sequoia Road Trip Drive Time
- LA to Sequoia: 4.5 hours
- LA to Yosemite: 6 hours
- Sequoia to Kings Canyon: 45 minutes
- Sequoia to Yosemite: 4.5 hours
What you’ll need:
- National Parks Pass
- Outdoor hiking gear
- Camping equipment (if necessary)
- Appropriate seasonal clothes
- Download your maps to offline mode
- AllTrails to plan your hikes
Hiking gear to have on your trip:
- Wool base layer to keep you dry: Men’s and Women’s
- Nice comfy fleece as a mid-layer: Men’s and Women’s
- Down Jacket for extra warmth: Men’s and Women’s
- Comfy yet durable pants: Men’s and Women’s
- Rain jacket: Men’s and Women’s
- Wool Socks: Men’s and Women’s
- Sturdy Hiking Shoes: Men’s and Women’s
- Midsized hiking backpack: 20L, 25L, 30L
Where to Stay on your Yosemite and Sequoia National Park Road Trip
Near Yosemite National Park
There are a handful of options for lodging while doing your Yosemite to Sequoia National Park trip
- Inside the park (The Awahnee, Yosemite Valley Lodge)
- Just outside the west entrance (Yosemite View Lodge)
- South of the Park (Wawona Hotel, Tenaya Lodge, or Bass Lake)
Near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
- Fresno – I’ve stayed here, and it’s about an hour’s drive out of the park if you’re already in South Sequoia National Park.
- Visalia – I would only stay here in the summer as the switchbacks can get closed during the winter months.
- A few spots near the parks (will be more expensive)
Your 6 day Yosemite to Sequoia national park Itinerary
Day 1: LA to Sequoia
Unless you’re hampered by flight times, I’d suggest leaving by 8 am to allow for a half-day of adventuring in Sequoia National Park. The drive-up will be straightforward until you head toward Fresno. Once you enter the park’s entrance, you’ll begin a 40-minute drive of slow switchbacks into the mountains and the heart of the Giant Forest. This is where the good stuff lies. If you do this during winter, check road conditions, as you may need 4×4 or chains.
General Sherman Tree and the Congress Trail: This is one of the best parts of Sequoia and allows you to get up close to the largest trees on Earth. The Congress Trail is three miles long, with a significant elevation gain/loss near the parking lot. I love this area, and you could spend hours hanging out there.
Moro Rock: If you have time left in the day, watching the sunset from Moro Rock is a moment you won’t forget. The hike up is about half a mile and over 350 steps. Those with fears of heights may not like it, but there’s no fall or injury risk. Remember to bring a headlight with you.
Related: All you need to know about visiting Sequoia NP
Day 2: Sequoia/Kings Canyon
You could split it between both parks on your first full day or head into Kings Canyon National Park. If you saw the Congress Trail and Moro Rock, I’d drive into KCNP and check out those views.
Must See Yosemite and Sequoia itinerary
Redwood Canyon: Down a narrow dirt road, you’ll head into a stunning sequoia grove that doesn’t get a lot of traction. I’d say it’s more densely populated than the Congress Trail and has 80% fewer people.
Grant Grove: Take a short walk to see the second-largest tree in the world. The estimated age is over 1,600 years old and is known as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.”
Kings Canyon Panoramic Point: This short hike shows off the vastness of Kings Canyon and the Sierra Nevada mountain range above it. This is a perfect place for sunrise or sunset.
Drive to Roads End: If you’re looking to drive to the bottom of Kings Canyon or do some hiking into the mountains, this is for you. The drive will take a couple of hours round trip, but you’ll get to experience an entirely different part of Kings Cayon National Park. I would recommend this as part of your Yosemite and Sequoia road trip.
Day 3: Sequoia to Yosemite
Before driving out, head up to Crescent Meadow and take a 2.5-mile stroll among the Sequoias! This route is mostly flat and has some significant Giant Sequoia clusters. This should be less crowded than Congress Trail. If you want to leave early and get to Yosemite (I can’t blame you there), there will be plenty to do for a half-day plus of fun! I definitely recommend this on your Yosemite and Sequoia itinerary.
Tunnel View: As you’re coming in, stop at Tunnel View. It’s arguably the most extraordinary entrance into a national park. It will be crowded but take your time finding a place to park. As we continue our Yosemite and Sequoia itinerary, I suggest coming back at sunrise or sunset.
Vernal Falls (and Nevada Falls?): The mist trail is one of the park’s most popular and must-see destinations. While the first mile is paved, it is still a reasonable incline and will get your heart beating. After the bridge, you’ll head up to Vernal Falls, where you will get misted – hence the trail name. Make sure to go slowly as the steps are slippery. Once up, you’ll be able to look down on the falls and hear the rush of the waterfalls. For speedier hikers or those with more time, keep going to Nevada Falls. Overall, this will be a 7-mile day. It’s worth it, though.
Day 4: Yosemite – Explore the Valley
This is the day to explore Yosemite Valley and soak it all in.
Float the Merced River: Rent tubes and float down the Merced River if the weather’s warm. This offers visitors a perfect chance to see the massive canyon walls at a slow speed while cooling off.
Hike Yosemite Falls: This one’s a bit harder of a hike – 7 miles, 2,900 feet of elevation gain – but so well worth it. As one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, it has its’ best flow rate in spring and early summer. I’d recommend doing this hike earlier in the day as the switchbacks towards the top offer no shade and can be brutal on a hot day.
Mirror Lake: Best hiked in the spring when the lake has water; this 2.5-mile hike is excellent for all families. You should see a stunning reflection of the canyon walls and Half Dome above it.
Glacier Point: about 2 hours before sunset, head up to Glacier Point and watch the sunset from Glacier Point or Taft Point. Both offer some of the best views in the park. You’ll be blown away, I promise!
Related: Yosemite Valley Hikes
Day 5: Yosemite – Tuolumne Meadows
This area has become my favorite part of the park because it sees fewer people. (It’s not empty but just less chaotic.)
Must-See on your Yosemite and Sequoia road trip
Cathedral Lakes: One of my favorite hikes in the upper elevations. Cathedral Lakes has stunning rock formations along with dark blue waters. If you can hold out for sunset here, it won’t disappoint!
Lembert Dome: A moderate 3.7-mile hike to the top of the granite dome will give you views across Tuolumne Meadows.
Lyell Canyon: This is a long and flat trek into Lyell Canyon. After about 9 miles, you’ll start a serious incline. I’d imagine most won’t hike this far, but if you’re looking to do some time on the PCT, this is a great place to do it. It’s also a wonderful place to backpack.
Olmsted Point: A significant turnoff to grab some food and soak in the backside views of Half Dome. If you bring binoculars, you may be able to see the cables that help hikers reach the top.
Clouds Rest: A challenging 13-mile hike to one of the best views in the park. You’ll find yourself looking down on Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. Highly recommend it for sunrise.
Day 6: Yosemite to LA
Before heading back, take a trip to lower Yosemite Falls and get the full taste of the waterfall. This is a half-mile roundtrip walk at best, and you’ll love it. If you’re also looking to prolong the end of the trip, stopping at Vasquez Rocks would be a great place to watch the sunset and stretch your legs before returning home.
Hopefully, your Yosemite and Sequoia road trip was as unique as you had hoped, and you came away with a lifetime of memories.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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