Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are home to natural giants and some of the most beautiful scenery America has to offer. These two parks are connected to each other, which makes it easy to see two National Parks on one trip! Most people end up doing both. During our visit, we camped one night in Sequoia and one night in Kings Canyon.
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Last Updated: April 28, 2019 // First Published: November 11, 2015
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What You Need to Know Before You Go
- Pick up an America the Beautiful National Park Pass to save money on park visits.
- There are five different areas with visitor services. Grant Grove, Giant Forest, and Foothills areas are open all year. Cedar Grove and Mineral King are open from late spring to early fall.
- Cell service is limited in the park. You can find free public WiFi at two visitor centers: Kings Canyon Visitor Center and Foothills Visitor Center.
- Elevation and weather vary greatly throughout the park. While you may find flowers blooming in the foothills, there might be snow at higher elevations limiting access to certain parts of the park. Check the park’s website before visiting to see what current conditions are.
- You are required to have tire chains in certain parts of the park in the cooler seasons.
- There are black bears in the park and they can break into cars that have food in them. If you’re unsure how to properly store food, check out this page.
- During the summer, free shuttles run through the Giant Forest and Lodgepole areas.
- Bring layers so you can add or take off layers based on what you need.
- Ticks are common in the foothill and Kings Canyon grasses. Be sure to check yourself after exploring these areas.
- Poison Oak is common up to 5000 feet elevation. If you touch any part of it, wash your skin and clothes right away.
- If you see dark clouds or lightning, do not stand under trees, in shallow caves, or on high points like Moro Rock. Stay inside a large building or vehicle.
15 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK + KINGS CANYON
The Giant Forest is exactly like it sounds. When you walk amongst these amazingly huge trees you’ll feel really small (but in a good way). On this trail, you will find the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume weighing 1,385 tons! Also, check out the President Tree (the 3rd largest tree) and the 2-mile Congress Trail that takes you on a nice stroll away from the crowds.
2. Climb the Steps of Moro Rock
Rising above the Giant Forest, you can climb 400 stone steps to the summit of the granite dome to get some of the best views of the park. Be sure to keep your eye out as you’re driving through the park to get views of it from a distance as well.
3. Mineral King
Only open in the summer, this is the only car-accessible backcountry in the park. There are plenty of hikes to choose from, and it’s worth the 28-mile windy road trek.
4. Drive or Walk Through the Tunnel Log
This fallen sequoia is the only tree you can drive through in this national park (as long as your vehicle isn’t over 8 feet tall)! Also, make a quick pit stop at Auto Log. You can’t drive over it anymore, but you can hop out to take a photo.
5. Mount Whitney
This is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States and stands at the impressive height of 14,494 feet. Join the thousands of people who summit this mountain every year through a long one-day hike or a two-day hike. After all, it’s only a 22-mile round trip hike!
6. Crystal Cave
Purchase tickets for a tour of this beautiful marble cave at the Foothills Visitor Center or Lodgepole. The cave is only open in the summer but is worth checking out for anyone into stalactites and stalagmites.
Pro Tip: They recommend that you purchase tickets online at least two days in advance, and earlier for weekend or holiday tours. If you’re already at the park, tickets can be purchased at visitor centers (not at the cave).
7. Buck Rock Lookout
This fire lookout gives you amazing views of the area. Climb the 172 metal steps and chat with the folks up top.
Note: Be sure to hold onto your stuff as it can get quite windy up there.
8. Hume Lake
This beautiful lake between Grant Grove and Kings Canyon was initially built as a water supply for a flume. Now it’s a recreation area where you can swim or paddle boat.
9. Crescent Meadow Loop
This treeless meadow seems out of place amidst all the giant sequoias. Here you can take a walk, have a picnic, or just rest and take in the views.
10. High Sierra Trail
For serious hikers, Sequoia National Park is the start of the High Sierra Trail. If you want to make the trek to Mount Whitney, the park suggests taking 6 days (10 miles a day) to enjoy all the views.
12. General Grant Tree
The General Grant Tree is the second-largest tree in the world, and it makes its home in Grant Grove. It is also the nation’s official Christmas tree! There is an easily accessible trail that takes you to see the settler’s cabin and the Fallen Giant as well.
13. Boyden Cavern
This is a privately-owned cavern but offers tours that leave every hour. If you’re looking for more adventure, they also have canyoneering and rappelling tours.
15. Road's End
This is the starting point if you’re looking to cross the Sierra and also the end point if you’re doing the scenic bypass. You can also enjoy the river, and there’s a spot where you can jump in.
More Things to Do in Sequoia NP + Kings Canyon NP
- Lakes Trail Hike (12.2 mi round trip, 2792 ft elevation, moderate to difficult)
- Big Trees Trail (1.4 mi, 50 ft elevation, easy)
- Grant Grove
- Generals Highway
- Junction View
- Roaring River Falls (0.3 mi walk)
- Mist Falls (8 mi loop)
- Tokopah Falls (3.4 mi round trip, easy)
- Muir Grove
- Zumwalt Meadow
Sequoia National Park Hikes (From Easy to Difficult)
- Big Tree Trail (1.3 mi loop, 121 ft △, easy)
- Congress Trail (3.2 mi RT, 498 ft △, easy)
- Crescent and Log Meadows (1.8 mi RT, 206 ft △, easy)
- General Sherman Tree (.8 mi RT, 154 ft △, easy)
- Giant Forest Loop Trail (7 mi loop, 1,282 ft △, easy)
- Big Baldy Ridge (5.5 mi loop, 1,391 ft △, moderate)
- Crystal Cave Trail (0.8 mi RT, 291 ft △, moderate)
- Crystal Lake (3.1 mi RT, 833 ft △, moderate)
- Lady Bug Trail (7.2 mi RT, 1,952 ft △, moderate)
- Moro Rock (0.4 mi RT, 187 ft △, moderate)
- Marble Falls Trail (7.4 mi RT, 1,627 ft △, moderate)
- Tokopah Falls (4 mi RT, 639 ft △, moderate)
- Alta Peak Trail (14.9 mi RT, 4,064 ft △, strenuous)
- Eagle and Mosquito Lakes (10.8 mi RT, 3,097 ft △, strenuous)
- Franklin Lakes (11.2 mi RT, 3,458 △, strenuous)
- Garfield Grove Trail (13.6 mi RT, 5,019 ft △, strenuous)
- Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pearl Lake (11.8 mi RT, 2913 ft △, strenuous)
- Middle Fork Kaweah Falls (9.1 RT, 1,627 ft △, strenuous)
- Monarch Lakes (8.4 mi RT, 2,650 ft △, strenuous)
- Timber Gap (9.8 mi RT, 4,110 ft △, strenuous)
- Twin Lakes Trail (13.1 mi RT, 3,238 ft △, strenuous)
- White Chief Trail (7.1 mi RT, 2,230 ft △, strenuous)
Kings Canyon National Park Hikes (From Easy to Difficult)
- Big Stump Trail (1.8 mi loop, 236 ft △, easy)
- Buena Vista Peak (2 mi RT, 413 ft △, easy)
- General Grant Tree Trail (0.5 mi loop, 29 ft △, easy)
- Grizzly Falls (0.1 mi loop, 19 ft △, easy)
- North Grove Loop (2.8 mi RT, 449 ft △, easy)
- Road’s End to Bailey Bridge (4.4 mi loop, 209 ft △, easy)
- Roaring River Falls (0.3 mi RT, 26 ft △, easy)
- Zumwalt Meadow (1.5 mi loop, 134 ft △, easy)
- Hart Tree, Fallen Goliath, Redwood Creek (7.1 mi loop, 1,354 ft △, moderate)
- Hotel Creek Trail (3.8 mi RT, 1,614 ft △, moderate)
- Mist Falls (8.1 mi loop, 889 ft △, moderate)
- Paradise Valley (17.1 mi RT, 2,972 ft △, moderate)
- Redwood Canyon (10.9 mi loop, 2,185 ft △, moderate)
- Don Cecil Trail (9.3 mi RT, 3,339 ft △, strenuous)
- Lookout Peak (13 mi RT, 4000 ft △, strenuous)
What to Pack for Your Trip
Sequoia National Park Camping
There are fourteen campgrounds in the two parks and three of them are open year-round. Most of them are first-come, first-served sites, with reservable sites at Potwisha, Buckeye Flat, Lodgepole, Dorst Creek, Sunset, and Sentinel campgrounds.
Campgrounds are usually full on weekends during the summer (Jun – Aug) so it’s good to arrive early or make reservations where you can. Here is a quick overview of the campsites:
Sequoia National Park
- Lodgepole Campground – 214 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Dorst Creek Campground – 218 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Potwisha Campground (open year-round) – 42 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Buckeye Flat Campground – 28 sites for tents
- South Fork Campground (open year-round) – 10 sites for tents
- Atwell Mill Campground – 21 sites for tents
- Cold Springs Campground – 40 sites for tents
Kings Canyon National Park
- Azalea Campground (open year-round) – 110 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Crystal Springs Campground – 36 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Sunset Campground – 157 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Sentinel Campground – 82 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Sheep Creek Campground – 111 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Moraine Campground – 121 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers
- Canyon View Campground – group sites only
To find more details on campgrounds, visit this page.
Best Places to Stay in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon
- Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia NP (mid – luxury) – located just around the bend from the General Sherman Tree. Compare prices on expedia and hotels.com. See all reviews on tripadvisor.
- Silver City Mountain Resort, Sequoia NP (mid-range) – great place to stay if you want to hike around Mineral King. Compare prices on booking and hotels.com. See all reviews on tripadvisor.
- Dow Villa Motel, Lone Pine (budget) – 31.5 mi away. Compare prices on booking and agoda. See all reviews on tripadvisor.
- Yosemite National Park (138 mi NW, 3 h 5 min drive, map)
- Alabama Hills Recreation Area, Lone Pine (251 mi, 4 h 35 min drive, map)
- Manzanar National Historical Site (259 mi, 4 h 40 min drive, map)
- Death Valley National Park (268 mi, 4 h 45 min drive, map)
- Mojave National Preserve (287 mi, 4 h 50 min drive, map)
How many of these things in Sequoia National Park have you done? What is the next National Park that you want to visit?