Sequoia National ParkCalifornia 

Visit the General Sherman Tree.

Sequoia National Park is the Land of Giants and the home of the General Sherman Tree. It is also home to Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Sequoia was established in 1890, making it the second oldest national park in the United States. It was actually the third national park designated by Congress, since it was preceded by Yellowstone and Mackinac National Park (Mackinac reverted to Michigan in 1895 and was reorganized as Mackinac Island State Park).

Sequoia National Park had nearly 1.3 million visitors in 2017. It ranked as the 20th most visited national park in the country with that level of attendance.

Sequoia has been jointly administered with Kings Canyon National Park since 1943 due to geographical proximity. Kings Canyon was designated a national park in 1940 and is located on the northern boundary of Sequoia.

How much does it cost to go to Sequoia National Park?

The park entrance fee in a private vehicle for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is $35 for seven days or $80 for the annual National Parks pass.

For a road trip, you are also looking at gas for your car and lodging. For those like us who are farther away, you are looking at a flight into Fresno, a rental car and lodging for the length of your vacation. Either way, you will also need to plan to bring money to pay for food and souvenirs. There is a per person cost to join the Crystal Cave tour in Sequoia National Park or the Boyden Cavern tour in Sequoia National Forest in Kings Canyon.

What is the best time of year to visit Sequoia National Park?

The most popular months to visit Sequoia are July and August. May, June and September also see a fair number of visitors to the park. There are fewer visitors in the winter. Only three campgrounds in the parks are open year-round. Winter brings closures to Crescent Meadow Road and a section of the road to Mineral King. Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is also closed for the winter after the turnoff for Hume Lake.

How long do you need in Sequoia National Park?

Most people spend less than a day between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. We visited the parks in June 2019 after Yosemite and we completed Grant Grove, Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, Zumwalt Meadow, General Sherman Tree, Auto Log, Tunnel Log and Moro Rock. We started the day in Fresno, California and finished by camping at Hume Lake in Sequoia National Forest. The areas that we missed out on in the parks were Mineral City, Crystal Cave and Tunnel Rock. The other experience in the park that we missed out on was a good long hike.

If you want to see the highlights of the park, one day is more than enough to race between the popular attractions. If you want to go beyond the tourist experience and enjoy the park, you really should have at least three days between Sequoia and Kings Canyon. One full day for Kings Canyon and two days for Sequoia (with one reserved for a longer hike) would be a better pace to cover them (even though it would still only scratch the surface).

Can you drive through Sequoia National Park?

You can drive through the park but you can not drive across it east-west due to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Generals Highway runs through Sequoia National Park from Foothills Visitor Center to Kings Canyon National Park and E Kings Canyon Rd / Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. There is also a road that runs from east of Three Rivers to Mineral King. However, the roads cover only a small portion of the park – more than 800,000 acres of Sequoia and Kings Canyon are designated as wilderness.

How long does it take to drive through Sequoia and Kings Canyon?

Driving the speed limit with no stops, it takes about two hours to drive from the Foothills Visitor Center of Sequoia National Park along Generals Highway to exit Kings Canyon National Park near Wilsonia and Grant Grove. This of course leaves much of the park unexplored. Adding the entire Kings Canyon Scenic Byway in Kings Canyon National Park will add two hours and 15 minutes to the trip. To drive to Mineral King and back out of the park at the beginning or end of the journey through Sequoia National Park, it adds about three hours to the road trip.

If you are looking to make a leisurely driving trip through the park with stops in Mineral City, Zumwalt Meadow as well as take a Crystal Cave tour, then you need at least two days.

Are there bears in Sequoia National Park?

Several hundred black bears live in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Note: It is illegal to carry bear spray in Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Is there cell service in Sequoia National Park?

Sequoia National Park has historically had spotty to no cell phone coverage. It approved a plan in 2019 for Verizon Wireless to erect a 138 foot cell tower disguised as a pine tree. The cell tower will be located west of Wuksachi Village and is expected to provide coverage in the surrounding areas including Wuksachi Way and portions of the Generals Highway. Construction will occur in 2020.

How far is Sequoia from Yosemite?

The fastest way between Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon and Yosemite Valley is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. The route takes visitors traveling between Yosemite and Sequoia through Fresno. The distance is approximately 150 miles.

Visitors can take a more direct route between the two by avoiding Fresno. This route is only 144 miles (with more twists and turns) but takes approximately 4 hours.

When we traveled between Hetch Hetchy and Grant Grove in June 2019, we chose the Fresno route and stopped at In-N-Out Burger. We also found a pretty cheap hotel for the night with a free hotel breakfast near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Sequoia is home to the world’s largest living tree by volume, the General Sherman Tree. Some trees are taller and some are wider, but this 2500 year old sequoia rules the park where five of the world’s ten largest trees sit.

Busiest Months (Percentage of Annual Visits)

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Current Astronomy Chart

current night sky over Sequoia

Courtesy of the AstroViewer night sky map.

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Campgrounds:

Lodgepole Campground
191 Sites

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Dorst Creek Campground
202 Sites

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Potwisha Campground
36 Sites

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Buckeye Flat Campground
27 Sites

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Some Hotels and Other Lodging Options:

Roundtrip Flights to Fresno:

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