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Sequoia National Park | Ultimate guide

Updated: Dec 4, 2022


Sequoia National Park is one of my favorite US National Parks in California. I visited it last winter and it was absolutely gorgeous. Seeing one of the oldest and widest trees in the world covered in snow is one of the unforgettable experiences of my life.

 

Table of Contents


  • Flying to the park

  • Driving to the park

  • Ash Mountain Entrance to Sequoia National Park

  • Big Stump Entrance to Kings Canyon National Park

  • Lodgepole Campground

  • Buckeye Flat Campground

  • Atwell Mill Campground

  • Wuksachi Lodge

  • Three Rivers

  • General Sherman Tree

  • Congress Trail

  • Moro Rock

  • Hanging Rock

  • Crystal Cave

  • Tunnel Log

  • Crescent Meadow Loop

  • Mineral King

  • Little Baldy Trail

  • High Sierra Trail

  • Little bit about Mt. Whitney

  • Visiting In Winter

  • Visiting In Summer

 


Getting to Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is nestled high in the southern Sierra Nevada, west of Visalia, California.


Flying to the park

The nearest international airport is in Fresno (Fresno Yosemite International Airport), about 1 hour and 45 minutes from the park entrance on California Highway 198. From the airport, you can rent a car to reach the park.


Driving to the park

Sequoia National Park is approximately:

o 3 ½ hours from Los Angeles

o 4 ½ hours from San Francisco

o 5 ½ hours from Los Vegas

 

Entrances to Sequoia National Park

Ash Mountain Entrance to Sequoia National Park

The main entrance, Ash Mountain, is accessed by following Highway 198 to the town Three Rivers.



Big Stump Entrance to Kings Canyon National Park

You can also enter Sequoia National Park on Highway 180, west of Fresno, through the Big Stump entrance to the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park. From there, follow the General’s Highway south to Sequoia National Park.


*Keep in mind that the section of the General’s Highway that connects Sequoia National Park to Kings Canyon National Park is not plowed between January and March, so it is often closed. So, you will have to enter the park through the Ash Mountain entrance in the winter.

 

Places to Stay at Sequoia National Park

Lodgepole Campground

This is the mail campground in the park offering 214 sites for both tents and RVs. It is conveniently located close to the main attractions; Giant Forest / Moro Rock / Crystal Cave and there is a shuttle available to take you to those destinations. Plus, you will be camping amongst the lodgepole pine trees that can be found throughout the campsite.

Buckeye Flat Campground

Located at a much lower elevation in the Foothill section of the park, this small 28 site campground is a good place to stay in the spring or fall as it is not as cold at night. Situated near the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River you can be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the river.

Atwell Mill Campground

Located in the less populated Mineral King section of the park about 2 hours from the main entrance, this campground sits on the spot of a former lumber mill. There are still many amazing sequoia trees to view as you set up camp. Due to the distance from the main entrance and the 21 campsites this is the perfect choice for a less crowded camping spot.

Wuksachi Lodge

For those looking to splurge on more luxurious accommodations in the park, the Wuksachi Lodge offers 102 rooms and a restaurant. The lodge is open year-round and is located close to all the major sights.

Three Rivers

If you’d like to find more affordable accommodations, Three Rivers is the closest town that offers several hotel options.



 



Top 10 Things to do at Sequoia National Park

General Sherman Tree

Giant sequoia tree located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park is a must-see spot on any trip to the park. The trail is a little over a mile long from the parking area, mostly flat with a few steps along the way. During the summer, when park shuttles are in operation, you can take a free shuttle to the parking area.


Congress Trail

It’s an easy 3-mile paved loop that lets you get up close to these magnificent Sequoias. This is a very popular area for hiking, snowshoeing, and walking, so you'll likely encounter a lot of people while exploring

Moro Rock

Located near the Giant Forest, Moro Rock is a granite dome that offers spectacular views across the park. Moro Rock is accessible by ascending 350 concrete and stone stairs. Be aware that it is closed in winter.


Hanging Rock

This trail gets its name from a huge, oval shaped boulder balanced on the edge of a granite cliff. You get to take a picture in front of and also enjoy the amazing view of Moro Rock.


Crystal Cave

Yes, although Sequoia National Park is most famous for its trees, it also has many caves. Crystal Cave is a marble cave with many great examples of stalactites and stalagmites. Be aware that the cave is only accessible through guided tours and tickets should be purchased online from the Sequoia Park Conservancy well in advance to guarantee a spot. Due to the KNP Complex Fire the cave was closed for the 2022 season, but it should reopen in May 2023.

Tunnel Log

Tunnel log offers the only opportunity in the park to drive through or walk through the trunk of a fallen sequoia. It is a great place for pictures.

Crescent Meadow Loop

This is a flat 1.5-mile loop that takes you through a meadow, which offers a stunning contrast to the giant sequoias. You also have the option to continue on to many other trails including Trail of the Sequoias and Tharp’s Log.

Mineral King

This is the only backcountry section of the park accessible via car. Monarch Lake, Crystal Lake, and Mosquito Lake are three great options to visit. Sawtooth Pass Trail offers a more challenging hike up to Columbine Lake.


Little Baldy Trail

This is a moderately challenging 3.3-mile out-and-back route, but the panoramic views from the summit are so worth it. The best times to visit this trail are May through October, during summer months you will pass a beautiful wildflowers on your way.

High Sierra Trail

Looking for a multi-day adventure? This trail is 49 miles from Crescent Meadow to the junction of the John Muir Trail and an additional 13 miles from the junction to Mt. Whitney. The trail offers everything from mountain lakes to rivers to meadows and you get to hike up the Great Western Divide also known as the Kaweah Gap. Plan for at least a week on the trail. Permits are required.


Little bit about Mt. Whitney

The west slope of Mt. Whitney is in Sequoia National Park. As it is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States it is a popular destination. Also, it can be summited with limited mountaineering skills although ascending nearly 7,000 feet is no picnic. There are options to hike the 21.5-mile Mt. Whitney Trail in one day or overnight. Permits are required and can be obtained from the Forest Service as the Mt. Whitney Trail starts in Inyo National Forest. The lottery opens from February 1 – March 1 for the busy summer season. Unlimited permits are available in the winter season.




 

Best times to visit Sequoia National Park


Honestly, this park is gorgeous in any season. It all depends on what you’re looking for. There’s so much to do hiking, camping, backpacking, snowshoeing, swimming in lakes, fishing and more.


Visiting In Winter


Weather conditions change constantly in Sequoia National Park during the winter, so it is important to check with the National Park Service at (559) 565-3341 for the most up to date information about road closures and tire chain requirements. Also, several roads in the park are closed in winter, including Crystal Cave Road, Mineral King Road, and Crescent Meadow Road. Winter is a great time to visit Sequoia National Park. The park is less crowded and the chance to experience a hike through the giant trees in the falling snow is unforgettable…speaking from personal experience.






Visiting In Summer

Summer is the most popular time to visit Sequoia National Park, so it will be busy during the summer months. But if you want to swim in lakes, fish, camp then summer is going to be the time to go.



 

Reminder

Remember to practice Leave No Trace Principles when hiking, backpacking and driving through these protected areas. Pack out your trash, pick up trash left by others if you can and always stay on the trail.


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