Nothing in the world prepares you for how massive sequoias are. Even if you swear you’ve seen an enormous tree, these will leave that tree feeling like an ant strolling through Central Park. Visiting Sequoia National Park is remarkable, whether it’s your first or tenth time.
The trees, some weighing over a ton and standing nearly 300 feet tall, will surely leave your neck slightly strained after your trip. However, that’s a small price to pay for being among such giants. Additionally, Sequoia National Park’s best hikes are incredible, and you won’t want to miss them.
Your Guide to Visiting Sequoia National Park
When planning your trip to Sequoia National Park, understand that the driveable part of Sequoia isn’t large. Therefore, you likely won’t need more than three days to see everything.
Inside, I’ll lay out all of the Sequoia National Park things to do on your trip.
What to know before you visit
When is the best time to visit the Sierras?
The best time to visit Sequoia National Park really depends on what you’re looking for and your personal preferences. Let me break it down into a few options for you:
Spring (April to June):
Wildflowers: Spring is a fantastic time if you’re into wildflowers. The meadows burst with colorful blooms, making it a paradise for nature photographers.
Waterfalls: The snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains creates impressive waterfalls during this time, like the roaring Grizzly Falls.
Summer (July to August):
Warm Weather: If you prefer warm weather, summer is the time to go. Daytime temperatures are comfortable, and it’s perfect for hiking and camping.
High Season: Be prepared for more crowds, especially during July and early August. So, book accommodations and plan your activities well in advance.
Fall (September to November):
Mild Weather: Fall offers milder temperatures, making it a great time for hiking without the summer heat.
Fall Foliage: While Sequoias don’t have colorful leaves, the surrounding areas do. You can see beautiful fall foliage in the neighboring Kings Canyon National Park.
Winter (December to March):
Snowy Wonderland: If you’re a fan of snow and a quieter experience, visit in winter. The giant sequoias covered in snow are a sight to behold.
Limited Access: Some park roads and facilities may be closed due to snow, so be sure to check ahead and carry chains for your vehicle.
There are two entrances to Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a stunning destination located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Known for its towering sequoia trees, dramatic granite peaks, and pristine wilderness, it attracts millions of visitors every year. If you’re planning a trip to this natural wonderland, here are two ways you can enter Sequoia National Park.
Entrance via Three Rivers:
One common way to access Sequoia National Park is through the town of Three Rivers. Located at the entrance to the park’s southern portion, Three Rivers offers convenient amenities such as hotels, restaurants, and shops.
To reach this entrance from major cities like Los Angeles or Fresno, you would typically take Highway 99 or Interstate 5 followed by Highway 198 eastward.
As you drive up into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range along Highway 198, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of rolling hills covered in oak woodlands and golden grasses.
As you approach Three Rivers, keep an eye out for signs guiding you towards “Sequoia National Park – Ash Mountain Entrance.”
This entrance leads directly into Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest area, where iconic attractions like General Sherman (the world’s largest tree) and Moro Rock await your exploration.
Entrance via Grant Grove:
Another popular way to enter Sequoia National Park is through Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. While these two parks are technically separate entities managed jointly by the National Park Service, they are often considered one continuous region due to their close proximity and similar landscapes.
Where to stay when visiting Sequoia National Park
If you’re looking for a hotel, the Wuksachi Lodge is your best bet in the park. The 102-room lodge has all the amenities you could wish for while visiting a national park. In addition, the lodge is about 100 minutes from Visalia, with two-thirds inside the park, driving up the switchbacks out of the valley and into the mountains.
Stony Creek Lodge is also available if you want to be close but not directly in the park. This is about a 20-minute drive from the Lodgepole area when you’re visiting Sequoia National Park.
Lastly, the Montecito Sequoia Lodge is even farther north, closer to Kings Canyon National Park. Again, this may be the best option if you’re looking for someplace equidistant between the two parks.
Sequoia National Park Camping:
There are many more plentiful and inexpensive options for Sequoia National Park camping and lodging. *UPDATE June 2023: Check local conditions due to the fires of 2023. Some areas may sadly be closed.*
Lodgepole Campground is the only campground in Sequoia National Park. This sits right by the visitor center and has 200 sites. All are reservable.
Dorst Creek Campground: The 200-site campground is in a beautiful part of the mountains and gives you easy access to Sequoia’s hikes and attractions. As of August 2021, this campground was not open.
Upper Stony Creek and Stony Creek Campground: Near Dorst Creek, the Stony Creek site was great! I stayed here for three nights in the summer of 2021 and have nothing but positives to report. The bathrooms were cleaned daily, running water was available, and the campground wasn’t too big, which kept the noise down.
Getting to the Sequoia side is about 25 minutes to the General Sherman Tree and about 45 minutes to Moro Rock.
Things to do in Sequoia National Park – Best Hikes
By visiting Sequoia National Park, you are in for a treat. These trees, each one similar yet strangely unique, will continuously have you shaking your head, bewildered that such a thing can exist. So let’s dive into the things to do in Sequoia National Park.
The Giant Forest, home to the General Sherman Tree, the largest by volume tree in the world, is the area’s main attraction. The hike down to the General Sherman Tree is a mile-round trip. After that, however, the Congress Trail is a great way to ditch the crowds and wander through a sea of Giant Sequoias.
I highly recommend making the entire loop, which is an additional two miles.
This canyon is slightly off the beaten path and a mini secret. Take a narrow, steep dirt road for 10 minutes to the Redwood Mountain Grove and Redwood Canyon. According to the NPS website, this area is exceptional and is the “largest grove in total area, has the largest area of old-growth giant sequoias, and contains more mature sequoias than any other grove.”
For the things to do in Sequoia National Park, this is a must!
I’ve gotta be honest, outside of the Congress Trail, this houses the Sequoia National Park’s best hikes.
More sequoias! Crescent Meadow is a multi-use destination. It’s home to hundreds and hundreds of sequoias, a beautiful meadow, and the start of the High Sierra Trail. The primarily flat loop will wind you through the trees and meadows, offering you tons of views, photo opportunities, and some much-needed fresh air. Here is one of my favorite things to do in Sequoia National Park.
If you want a longer hike, take the High Sierra Trail as far as you feel comfortable. Just know it’s a 72-mile trail stretching horizontally across Sequoia National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The route finishes with a summit of Mount Whitney before depositing you in Whitney Portal.
Are you ready for a leg burner? Moro Rock’s 350 steps will make your legs quiver going up, but the views at the top will provide some of the best unobstructed views in the park. Look to the west, and you’ll see the Great Western Divide.
To the east, you’ll see the valley and many switchbacks you likely drove up. The parking here is limited, so either come early or late or take the shuttle bus.
I’m confident you’ll love every second of it regardless of where you go while visiting Sequoia National Park. Remember, even in the summer, the temperatures can still get into the 40’s and 50’s.
There are also not a lot of streams, so make sure to have extra water on hand when hiking to ensure everyone stays hydrated.
One Day Itinerary for Visiting Sequoia National Park
If you only have one day to visit Sequoia National Park, you might be rushed, but you can still see some of the best places and hikes. Below are some things to do in Sequoia National Park.
- Start your day by entering the park from either Fresno or Visalia.
- Visit the Congress Trail, where you’ll see some of the largest trees on Earth.
- Grab a lunch or snack and check out the Visitor Center
- Head up to Crescent Meadow and do the various loops there. (Some are short, and some can be a couple of miles.)
- Make some food
- Head to Moro Rock to watch the sunset and soak in the best mountain views in the park!
Hiking Gear While Visiting Sequoia National Park
- Wool base layer to keep you warm: 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
FAQ: Your Trip to Sequoia National Park
How many days do I need to visit Sequoia National Park?
I would give at least two, maybe three days to see Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon! This means you won’t be rushing through the park and get to really enjoy the views and magical trees. When it comes to the things to do in Sequoia National Park, you could be here for weeks and not cover it all!
How did the fires impact this area?
Sadly, the fires during the summer of 2022 did a number on this area, and many of the locations have been severely impacted. I would check with local park officials before visiting to ensure what you want to see is allowed.
What is the best month for visiting Sequoia National Park?
June through September are historically the best months in the park. However, with the propensity for fires in the area increasing, coming earlier in the year will shield you from any effects wildfires may have on the region. Still, weather-wise, summer is magical!
Do I need reservations?
You do not need prior reservations to enter Sequoia, but you will if you plan on camping in the campgrounds.
What Pass do I need to visit Sequoia National Park?
The America the Beautiful Pass will cover all National Parks for one year. Or you can buy a weeklong pass for just your trip. I recommend buying the $80 annual pass.
Wrapping Up – Visiting Sequoia National Park
In conclusion, a visit to Sequoia National Park offers an awe-inspiring experience that is unlike any other. The sheer magnitude and beauty of the giant sequoias leave visitors in awe of nature’s grandeur. From exploring underground caves to hiking through scenic trails, there are endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.
Whether you are seeking solitude or looking to reconnect with nature, this national park offers a sanctuary where you can immerse yourself in tranquility and marvel at the wonders of the natural world.
A trip to Sequoia National Park is not just a vacation; it is an unforgettable journey that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. So pack your bags and embark on an adventure like no other – Sequoia National Park awaits!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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