Sequoia National Forest in east-central California has more than 30 groves of giant Sequoias, after which the forest is named. The forest is on the southern end of the Sierra Nevada and has close to two million acres of space to enjoy. Established in 1908, the forest also has pine, fir, and other smaller types of trees and is part of six different wilderness areas. With elevations that range from 1,370 to 14,494 feet above sea level, there is a great diversity of ecosystems here.
If you want to enjoy some water sports, there are many acres of rivers, lakes, and streams in the forest. The Kern River was named a National Wild and Scenic River System in 1968 because of its free-flowing waters and amazing scenery. Hume Lake and Lake Isabella are two of the larger lakes in the forest where you can go boating, swimming, or fishing. In the winter, you can also enjoy the forest with miles of trails for snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.
Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are also popular here with over 200 trails to choose from providing miles of fun. And you are never far from a campground because there are 21 of them here that can accommodate RVs. We have highlighted our top three favorites below.
Just a short drive from Bakersfield and several other cities, you can reach the Sequoia National Forest with ease. Coming from the north or west, you will need to take Interstate 5, and from the south or east, you should take Interstate 15. No matter which way you go, you will be able to enjoy a plethora of beautiful views as you head to your destination.
Highway 180, or the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, is the only way to get to Kings Canyon, which is one of the deepest canyons in the United States. You will enjoy spectacular geology, views of the Sierra Nevada, and gorgeous waterfalls along this road. The Generals Highway, which starts at Highway 180 in Kings Canyon Park, takes you through the Giant Sequoia National Monument to the City of Three Rivers.
The Western Divide Highway meanders along the ridge line that divides the Kern River from the Tule River. This short scenic route can take you into the sequoia groves, streams, lookouts, and trails. Sherman Pass takes you to the Kern Plateau from the North Fork to the high desert where it connects to Highway 395. Once you get to your campground, you can walk or ride a bike wherever you want to go because the inner roads of the forest are not easy to maneuver with a big rig.
Paradise Cove Campground near Mount Mesa has 80 RV campsites and 58 family campsites on Lake Isabella, open from April through November. Each space is equipped with its own picnic table that seats eight, a fire ring with a grill, and a bear proof box for food and other scented items. Bears frequent the area so be bear aware. There are also modern toilets with running water, pay showers, drinking water spigots, vault toilets, and an RV waste station.
The 11,000-acre Lake Isabella has plenty of room for all kinds of recreation including boating, skiing, swimming, and sunbathing. The lake holds a plethora of fish such as largemouth bass, trout, catfish, and crappie. They even have a fish cleaning station for your convenience. The 80 RV campsites can accommodate up to 50-foot trailers and RVs, but you should reserve one in advance because they fill up fast, especially on weekends and holidays. Pets are welcome as long as they are kept restrained and supervised at all times during your visit.
Princess Campground in Dunlap has 84 RV campsites and six family campsites. Each space has a picnic table, a campfire ring with a grill, and a bear proof box for food and other scented items. Bears have been known to frequent the area so be alert at all times. Parking pads range from 28 to 47 feet in length. Open from May to September, the campground also provides drinking water spigots, vault toilets, and an RV waste station. You should reserve a spot in advance because they fill up fast, especially on weekends and holidays.
The campground is in the middle of Indian Basin Grove with 448 acres of wilderness and the Indian Basin Creek. You can try fishing in the creek for crappie, trout, and other species or just splash around and get cooled off. The park provides campfire talks and guided hikes from the end of May until September. The nearby half-mile Interpretive Trail is ADA-accessible and open all year long. Pets are welcome if you keep them restrained and supervised at all times during your visit.
Tillie Creek Campground in Wofford Heights has 148 RV campsites and seven family sites open from April through November. Each space is equipped with a large picnic table, a fire ring with a grill, and a bear proof box for food and other scented items. Bears frequent the area so be bear aware. There are also modern toilets with running water, drinking water spigots, vault toilets, and an RV waste station. Parking pads vary in size from 25 to 45 feet long.
There is also a fantastic playground for the kids nearby, as well as plenty of open space to play games like badminton, frisbee, and volleyball. The campground is within walking distance of Lake Isabella where you can swim, fish, and go boating. Although there are lots of campsites, you should reserve one in advance because they fill up fast, especially on weekends and holidays. Pets are welcome if they are kept restrained and supervised at all times during your visit.
There are plenty of places for a picnic or BBQ in the Sequoia National Forest so gather everyone in the campervan before heading out. The Powder Can Picnic Area near Hume has tables, grills, and a vault toilet. If you want to fish during your visit, the Upper Richbar Picnic Site by Bakersfield and Riverkern Beach Picnic Site by Kernville are right on the Kern River. In fact, you can even do some whitewater rafting or floating on the river if you like.
If you are into spelunking, make sure you do not forget to pack your caving gear. The Boyden Cavern in Kings Canyon is a 2,000-foot high marble cave that sits at the base of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The 50-minute cave tour is great for everyone from toddlers to elderly folks and no reservations are needed. The entrance to the cave is in Kings Canyon National Park on Highway 198 near Grant Grove.
Whether you want to take a nice short walk in the woods or a long backpacking trip through the mountains, Sequoia National Forest has something for everyone. The Hobo Fishing Trail begins at Hobo Campground and ends at Sandy Flat Campground, a half a mile away. For a bit more of a walk, try the 4.2-mile Wet Meadow Trail that ends at the Forest Boundary. For a challenge, the 15.6-mile Woodpecker Trail.
Winter is fun in the Sequoia National Forest, especially if you like playing in the snow. Hook the trailer to the RV and bring your snowmobiles because there are miles of trails to explore and enjoy here. The Greenhorn Summit by Lake Isabella has about 90 miles of trails you can check out. The Quail Flat Winter Trailhead off General’s Highway has a staging area that gives you access to Big Meadows Road and Burton Pass Road. And Big Meadow Winter Trailhead nearby has a plethora of trails for snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.
If you need some target practice or want to sight in your weapon, go ahead and pack your gun or bow in the camper. The Cyrus Canyon Shooting Range provides target shooting for bows, pistols, and rifles. There is also a trap shooting area to the left of the main shooting range. The targets are placed at 25 and 50 yards for pistols and small caliber rifles.
Hunting is popular in the Sequoia National Forest on a seasonal basis, but you must follow all California State Hunting laws and guidelines. The big game available here include wild pigs, bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn antelope, bear, and deer. Small game includes squirrels, rabbits, and hares. The main preferred hunting area in the forest is the Cyrus Canyon Shooting Range Area, which has a wide variety of hunting space. There are specific seasons for each type of hunting, and you must wear hunter orange and carry your hunting license and tags at all times.