15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon

15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon

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.

15 Incredible Things to Do in Sequoia National Park

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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.
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15 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK + KINGS CANYON

Coordinates: 36.581705, -118.751431, map

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.

The President Tree (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

2. Climb the Steps of Moro Rock

Trailhead Coordinates: 36.546869, -118.765593, map

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.

Climb Moro Rock (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

3. Mineral King

Coordinates: 36.450084, -118.593040, map

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.

Mineral King CA (15 Awe-Inspiring Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

4. Drive or Walk Through the Tunnel Log

Coordinates: 36.5525706,-118.7635707, map

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.

Drive Through the Tunnel Log (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

5. Mount Whitney

Coordinates: 36.5695136,-118.2965179, map

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!

Mount Whitney + 15 Awe-Inspiring Things to Do in Sequoia National Park // Local Adventurer #visitcalifornia #sequoia #mtwhitney #hiking

6. Crystal Cave

Coordinates: 36.5874504,-118.8325747, map

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).

Crystal Cave Sequoia National Park (+15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks).

7. Buck Rock Lookout

Coordinates: 36.7372813,-118.8628677, map

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.

Buck Rock Lookout (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).
Buck Rock Lookout (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).
View of Sequoia National Park from Buck Rock Lookout.

8. Hume Lake

Coordinates: 36.7907137,-118.9112774, map

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.

Hume Lake Sequoia (15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

9. Crescent Meadow Loop

Coordinates: 36.5541654,-118.7705703, map

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.

Crescent Meadow (15 Amazing Things to See in Sequoia National Park).

10. High Sierra Trail

Coordinates: 36.5548094,-118.7511753, map

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.

High Sierra Trail (15 Awe-Inspiring Things to Do in Sequoia National Park).

11. Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

Coordinates: 36.7663785,-118.957835, map

This is a scenic 50-mile drive where you get gorgeous views of the river and mountain ranges. There are plenty of pit stops.

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (15 Awe-Inspiring Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks).
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, Kings Canyon National Park, California.

12. General Grant Tree

Coordinates: 36.7482726,-118.9733441, map

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.

General Grant Tree (15 Amazing Things to Do in Kings Canyon National Park + Sequoia).

13. Boyden Cavern

Coordinates: 36.8157115,-118.8203523, map

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.

Boyden Cavern (15 Awe-Inspiring Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks).

14. Grizzly Falls

Coordinates: 36.8031164,-118.7459739, map

This 75-foot waterfall is a short hike off the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. The best time to visit is spring when it’s at its full force.

Grizzly Falls Kings Canyon National Park California.

15. Road's End

Coordinates: 36.8013543,-118.5951105, map

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.

Roads End (15 Amazing Things to Do in Kings Canyon National Park & Sequoia).
Roads End Kings Canyon National Park.

Photos courtesy of (creative commons): 3. Dark Sevier (cropped) 4. Jurriaan Persyn (cropped) 5. Howard Ignatius 6. qJake (cropped) 8. Brian Gautrey 10.Miguel Vieira (cropped) 13. David Prasad (cropped)

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

What's Nearby

  • 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?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

What to Do in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park
15 Incredible Things to Do in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia National Park Things to Do
15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon National Park.
15 Incredible Things to Do in Sequoia National Park

See More National Park Guides

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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Hi Esther & Jacob, Both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park look amazingly beautiful. Though I haven’t been there yet. I am just curious what kind of wildlife did you see there?

    1. All kinds! Here are just a few of them: gray fox, bobcat, black bear, mule deer, mountain lion, marmot, and pika.

  2. When did you visit and where did you camp? Looking to do a camping trip out there in the middle of May and want to make sure these places are open!
    Also, your list looks awesome and has motivated me to do this trip even more!

  3. How long would you recommend for a camping/driving trip to see Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemeti?

    1. Depends on how much you want to see in each place! We could spend a week in Yosemite alone, but you could see the highlights of all of them in a week as well. Hope that helps!

  4. This weekend, we are headed to Mammoth and Sequoia. Your blog was very helpful. Thanks

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stu. Hope you have a great trip! I still need to visit Mammoth.

  5. Yosemite is definitely a gorgeous place to visit and this list is off the hook. A lot of these places are amazing during the winter as well if you’re willing to put in the effort via a pair of ski. Typically, we visit the National Park right when the gates open from the east side to access some of the best spring skiing on the planet. Great name for your website by the way! :-)

  6. 2 Amazing Destinations! Always on the hunt for new exciting camping destinations, these look stunning! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and travel inspiration!

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