Sequoia National Park
Guide

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Introduction

There’s just something to be said for being about to start out your day nestled in the towering groves of Sequoia National Park. Here, you get to rest, relax, and explore among giants. Many RVers flock to California to see the famed trees yet stay and return to uncover the multitude of other splendors the park has to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts of all levels and abilities can find a haven here.

Sequoia National Park finds its home directly next to Kings Canyon National Park within the southern section of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. The region is well-renowned for its abundant sequoia tree growth, the most notable being the General Sherman Tree, which is the largest tree on Earth. Crystal Cave, an underground attraction, is a breathtakingly beautiful geographical landscape which prominently displays glistening streams and interesting rock structures. Moro Rock, a formation comprised of granite, is a haven for families looking to enjoy panoramic views of the region.

From cozy mountain lodges to tenting under the stars or RVing in style, Sequoia National Park provides visitors with the perfect setting to begin and end their days. The park stretches over a whopping 630 square miles of jagged, rocky peaks, and meadows that burst with wildflowers. Canyons plunge and caverns glisten. It’s a place that feels like it could be without time, as many of its residents have stood in their very spots for eons to oversee any small changes. From rock climbing and backpacking to scenic driving and cross-country skiing, there are many chances to explore the great outdoors at Sequoia National Park.

It’s a place that is worth traveling through in its entirety, so visiting with an RV or camper is highly recommended. While some campgrounds can accommodate large rigs, keep in mind that many roads have a vehicle length restriction of 22 feet. Campgrounds usually fill quickly, but that’s how you know it’s going to be good. Make reservations early and get geared to go. It’s time to take a drive and dive deep into these groves.

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RV Rentals in Sequoia National Park

Transportation in Sequoia National Park

Driving

Be prepared for mountainous roadways that are narrow and winding. These are not roads that are recommended for the faint of heart or those traveling with a larger haul. Elevation changes can occur without warning.

There are length limits and advisories set in place for trailers, RVs, and any other type of vehicle over 22 feet. During certain times of the year rigs over 22 feet long are prohibited from specific areas such as Crystal Cave Road and Crescent Meadow Road. RVs or trailers of any size should avoid Mineral King Road and Panoramic Point Road.

Rigs over 24 feet are not recommended between the Foothills Visitor Center and Potwisha Campground. RVs over 22 feet should avoid the road between Potwisha Campground and the Giant Forest Museum. If you do plan on visiting Sequoia National Park in a large rig, you do so at your own risk, and it's recommended that you use the north entrance on Highway 180. Make sure to stay up to date on vehicle restrictions in the park before you arrive in your motorhome.

It’s important to note that there is no gasoline sold within the park, though gas stations can be found in nearby National Forests. If arriving at the park in winter, you can expect some slick travel. Tire chains are even required on some roads. These certainly aren’t areas recommended for larger rigs or trailers.

Parking

Depending on how large of a haul you’re bringing with you, you may find that not many spaces accommodate your rig. In many parts of the park, there are restrictions in place that prohibit vehicles longer than 22 feet. However, many of the campgrounds still support smaller RVs, campers, and trailers. The park’s shuttle bus runs near many of the campgrounds, making parking and getting around a breeze.

Public Transport

Shuttles run throughout the summer, typically from mid-May until September. The buses are wheelchair accessible and completely free to ride. The Sequoia Shuttle runs throughout the Giant Forest, as well as the Lodgepole area and Wuksachi. A round-trip touring ride is also available through Sequoia Shuttle. On this ride, you will visit neighboring towns, Visalia and Three Rivers, then come down to Giant Forest Museum. Reservations are required for this excursion.

Campgrounds and parking in Sequoia National Park

Campsites in Sequoia National Park

Reservations camping

Lodgepole Campground

Lodgepole has 214 sites available for tents, RVs, and trailers. In the fall, RV sites are moved to the spacious, central parking area and outside of campsites. Lodgepole has spacing available for vehicles up to 42 feet. Reservations are recommended from May until September, but the campground is first-come, first-served the rest of the year. Since Lodgepole is in such an ideal location, tucked right between both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon, it fills up quickly.

Lodgepole Campground is just a few miles from the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove and is a shuttle stop for the free Sequoia Shuttle route. This makes getting around a breeze, even when you have to leave your main source of transportation behind. Amenities at the campground include food storage lockers, flush toilets, showers, a laundry facility, market, and more. While no hookups are available, generators are allowed. As part of Lodgepole Village, you’ll have ample commodities.

Dorst Creek Campground

Located just 20 minutes from Lodgepole Village, Dorst Creek is one of many that lie along the Generals Highway. There are 218 sites available for tents, RVs, and trailers. Reservations are recommended from June until September, while most sites of first-come, first-served for the rest of the year. RVs up to 125 feet can be accommodated, and pull-through sites are available. A dump station, food lockers, and vault toilets are provided, and generators are permitted. Dorst Creek has the added perk of being a stop for the Sequoia Shuttle. Shower and laundry facilities are available at the nearby Wuksachi Lodge.

Visalia / Sequoia National Park KOA

Nicknamed the "Gateway to the Sequoias," Visalia, CA is bordered by Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. Stay at the Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA where big rigs up to 70 feet are welcome. This campground offers grassy or shady gravel pads with water and electricity or full hookups powered up to 50-amps. Get fit at the volleyball court, horseshoe pits, pool, children's playground, and Kamp K-9 dog park. Visit the snack bar, and stay connected with cable TV and Wi-Fi. Firewood and propane are available on-site.

First-come first-served

Potwisha Campground

Potwisha is open all year long, but only becomes fully first-come, first-served once reservation periods are through. It’s a popular location to find visitors during peak seasons, as the grounds tend to keep a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re arriving in the Summer, be prepared for heat. WInter visitors will find a snow-free haven. Potwisha offers sites that are rather spacious and will fit vehicles of decent lengths, with multiple pull-through sites also available.

Potwisha is a rather popular campground that sits just four miles from the Sequoia National Park entrance. It is situated along the middle fork of the Kaweah River and lies under the protection of mighty oaks. The campground tends to get quite hot during the summer and remains snow-free during winter months. There are 42 sites available for RVs, campers, trailers, and tenters to choose from.

Reservations are available from May and throughout September. For some sites here, reservations must be made year-round. There is a fully accessible site featured here in order to help keep Sequoia National Park open for everyone to enjoy. Be advised that road construction may prohibit your travels. If you drive a longer RV or trailer, you may have to consider another campground that will suit your rig’s size. However, many of Potwisha Campground’s sites are plenty spacious enough for vehicles of any length, as there are multiple pull-through sites. Stocking up during your stay is made easy too, with a quick trip to nearby Three Rivers.

Alternate camping

South Fork Campground

South Fork Campground features 10 campsites for tents only. South Fork is located 13 miles from CA-198 on South Fork Drive, and is a primitive area. It rests in the foothills of the south fork for the Kaweah River, where oaks transition and give way to evergreens. Portions of the roadways here are rather rough, and cars without high clearance are not recommended for this trip. Food storage lockers and vault toilets are provided, but drinking water is not.

Buckeye Flat Campground

Twenty-eight sites are featured here, but for tent camping only. It is in an ideal location; just seven miles from the park’s entrance. It is much like a setting comparable to the more popular, Potwisha Campground. Each campsite comes with a food storage locker and flush toilets are within walking distance. Campsites here are first-come, first-served and sites are limited to one vehicle. There is an ADA-accessible site here as well.

Cold Springs Campground

Located just 23 miles from CA-198 on Mineral King Road, Cold Springs Campground is an ideal setting for tent-only camping. The grounds are located near the Mineral King Visitor Center, nestled among evergreen and aspen trees and situated along the eastern fork of the Kaweah River. Open typically from June to October, there are 40 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. No water is available, so, come prepared. There are, however, food storage lockers, pay phones, vault toilets, and multiple trailheads that lead out from the grounds.

Atwell Mill Campground

This campground is only open to tent camping and is first-come, first-served with 21 campsites. The campground is typically open from May to October. There is also an ADA-accessible site. Other amenities and services at Atwell include a pay phone, vault toilets, and multiple trailheads that access the East Fork Grove of giant Sequoias. It’s very remote, so come prepared.

Seasonal activities in Sequoia National Park

Spring

Park Tours

Half-day tours are provided by Sequoia Sightseeing Tours. These tours of Sequoia National Park depart from Wuksachi Lodge. From this start, the tour will take you along to witness such sights as the General Sherman Tree, the Tunnel Log, Moro Rock, and much more. Reservations are highly recommended as this is quite a popular tour.

Horseback Riding

Some of the best horseback riding can be enjoyed at Sequoia, with several locations providing riding services for equestrians of all abilities. Riding services include anything from guided day rides to overnight and multi-day trips. It’s best to contact the area’s stables for more in-depth information before committing to the trip. You can also bring your own horse to ride in the park, but make sure you follow all park rules. A permit is required for overnight rides.

Rock Climbing

Scaling the Sequoia is a popular pastime for many of the park’s visitors. Sequoia offers rocky routes that challenge climbers of all ability levels. Moro Rock is one of the most popular and easily accessible climbs in the park, offering 1,000 feet of climbing adventure. If you're up for a challenge, you can take an 18-mile hike to reach Angel Wings, which is one of the tallest climbs in the park.

Climbing is typically prohibited at Moro Rock and Chimney Rock from April and through August to protect the habitat of nesting peregrine falcons. If you are not a skilled rock climber, you may want to consider hiring a professional guide to accompany you and your family on your adventure. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear and to carry drinking water and snacks with you.

Wildlife Viewing

From black bears to birds of many feathers and from fish to falcons; you’ll never be without an opportunity to witness much of California’s wildlife in its natural splendor. A good portion of Sequoia National Park remains untouched, as its inhabitants are who rule in these parts. An array of birds, mammals, and everything in between await, all held within extreme elevation changes. Some of the most commonly sighted animals include bears, coyotes, opossums, deer, and badgers.

Tokopah Falls Trail

The park’s southern portion is home to the famed Tokopah Falls. The towering falls scale to 1,200 feet and show off a series of small cascades. None of the drops themselves are really all that high, but that doesn’t steer away from the sheer beauty of the falls in their entirety. An almost two-mile hike will land you at the mouth of these incredible natural water features. It’s not a particularly difficult walk to get to this destination, so you won’t have to wait long to see the falls in all their splendor.

Summer

Walk in the Giant Forest

The heart of Sequoia National Park features Giant Forest. This forest houses about half of the Earth’s largest and longest-living trees. John Muir named the forest back in 1875, and many of today’s trees were there to bear witness to his travels. The Giant Forest is alive with wonder. Many come to see these towering tree giants but leave having experienced something so much more grand.

The most famous tree in the Giant Forest is General Sherman Tree. Towering at 275 feet tall, General Sherman is the tallest tree in the world. There are two trails, the Main Trail and the ADA-accessible trail, that make it easy to reach the legendary tree from the parking lot, off of Wolverton Road.

Big Trees Trail

As with many other National Parks, Sequoia has worked to make as much of the grounds as accessible as possible in order to allow everyone, of every ability, to enjoy the park. One of the most accessible trails in the park is found in Big Trees Trail. It is an easy, self-guided loop that circles through Round Meadow and features trail-side exhibits that describe the local ecology. The trail is just over a mile.

Ranger Programs

The park’s Rangers run a whole variety of programs that are designed to keep visitors entertained and educated. There’s just something special about having a park Ranger on hand to ask those questions that have been lingering in the back of your mind. The insights from these experts are the perfect way to learn about the park’s wonders. Whether you get to enjoy a guided hike, a nightly program, or attend a campfire talk, you surely won’t be disappointed. Most Ranger programs are held throughout the summer, so that's the perfect time to get involved. Check the park schedule for more information about Ranger-led activities and programs.

Crystal Cave

Located between the Ash Mountain entrance and Giant Forest, Crystal Cave requires a half-mile scenic, yet steep stroll in order to arrive at its mouth. The park offers guided tours from mid-May through September. Most tours last about 45 minutes through the half-mile loop in the cave. Tickets must be purchased before arriving to the cave and can be bought at the Foothills Visitors Center. Rigs over 22 feet are not allowed on Crystal Cave Road.

Stargazng

High up in the mountains, far from any city lights, Sequoia National Park is one of the darkest places to visit in the Nation. Astronomy programs are offered at the Wuksachi Lodge and on clear nights, the Milky Way clearly shines above the park. The sky is as it was before artificial light polluted its wonders. You can soak in the magic of the stars during the Wonders of the Night Sky program or the Dark Skies Festival.

Fall

Giant Forest Museum

The Giant Forest Museum is the perfect location to get to know all there is to know about the Giant Forest and its famous trees. Visitors come from far and wide to learn all sorts of fun and intriguing facts. Here, you can be taught how to identify trees, learn what makes a Sequoia different from a Redwood, explore the area’s natural ecology, or take an interpretive trail. Admission is free, and the museum is open daily.

Alta Peak Trail

This strenuous hike is one that goes seven miles one way, meaning to and from is going to be a good 14-mile round trip. It is a trail that is considered by many to be one of “the best” day hikes in the park. At a whopping 11,204 feet in elevation, Alta Peak offers its visitors jaw-dropping vistas of the High Sierra and beyond. On a nice, clear day you can even see all the way to Mount Whitney!

Since this hike is considered a challenging one, you will want to be sure to bring along food and water to keep hunger and thirst at bay. Wear appropriate footwear to prevent injury. The weather can get chilly during the fall months, so dress in layers to remain warm.

Fishing

There are several lakes, rivers, and creeks inside Sequoia National Park. Many of these waterways hosts areas that are quite popular among fishing enthusiasts. Most come here to catch Rainbow Trout, wild Brown Trout, Brook Trout, and even sometimes Golden Trout. In this park, Wolverton Creek and places near Wuksachi Lodge and Mineral King are popular fishing havens.

You can fish directly from the shore or paddle out in your canoe or kayak to try your hand at catching the "big one." Once your fishing adventure is over, you can fillet your fish along the banks of the water then grill up a feast back at your campground.

Photography

The enormous Sequoias and famed Redwood forests make up some of the most inspiring scenes worth capturing forever. The photo opportunities are endless, even for the most novice of photographers. There are many overlooks where you can capture settings worth placing on a postcard, but don’t stop there. There is much that is worth capturing in this photographer’s paradise.

Fly Fishing

At this park, fly fishing is renowned as so much more than a sport. It’s a science, a skill, an art--and it is a recreation that is celebrated at Sequoia. It’s not for everyone, and many succumb to fly fishing’s tediousness, but for those who stick with the mystique of the craft, hours of wonderful reward await. Be sure you have the correct bait for your fishing adventure and bring all of the creature comforts you will need to enjoy a great day on the water including refreshing beverages and snacks.

Winter

Pear Lake Winter Hut

This destination is more of a challenge, but very much worth the reward. All the way up at 9,200 feet, Pear Lake Winter Hut offers access to some of the most pristine winter wilderness settings in the park. There is a steep six mile-long trail that begins at Wolverton and gains a good 2,000 feet of elevation by the time Pear Lake is reached. It’s a hike that’s best suited for those who are quite fit and are more experienced with backcountry travelling. Those who do dare to venture out to the hut will get to experience a quiet that only the High Sierra in winter can provide. A cozy cabin with a provided pellet stove (and pellets) will keep you warm after your trek. It’s a well deserved ending. Before making your way to the hut, be sure you’ve made reservations, as they are required for access.

Guided Snowshoe Walks

Easy, fun, and a totally unique way to wander among the giant Sequoias of the park, guided snowshoe walks are an extremely popular activity at this recreational area. This setting for snowshoeing is, simply put, perfect. The orange trunks contrast so nicely against the white snow, creating an ideal backdrop for such a leisurely recreation. With weather permitting, the Rangers provide guided snowshoe walks in the Giant Forest that are free of charge. They are perfect for beginners who also want to learn more about the history and unique geographical features of the park.

Be sure to dress in layers to stay warm during colder weather. Bring along drinking water and a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate to enjoy with your family and friends on your snowshoeing adventure.

Cross-Country Skiing

It’s a cross-country skier’s paradise here at Sequoia National Park. In the very heart of this recreational area, Wuksachi Lodge makes a supreme choice as a base for those who are just starting out with the sport. The lodge also offers more challenging trails where more seasoned skiers can show off their skills. Skiers should be sure to add this stop on their list of travel destinations.

Since temperatures can drop to the chill zone during the winter months, be sure to dress in layers to ward off the cold. You'll need to bring along drinking water to keep your hydration levels optimal during your cross-country skiing trip.

Generals Highway

The Generals Highway is a roadway that connects the two parks, Kings Canyon and Sequoia. Along both sides runs the celebrated Sequoia groves and a number of popular trailheads pepper the way. The roadway offers a scenic drive to well-visited overlooks and rocky ridges. Winter weather conditions can make travel a bit tricky, so be sure to come well prepared. Weather can be unpredictable at times, so it is advised to be ready with enough creature comforts to get you through some time that could be spent waiting for a snowplow. Bring along a camera to record the beautiful sights you will encounter along your highway journey.

Wolverton Meadow

The meadow is a go-to playground when snow blankets the park. Wolverton Meadow features a huge snow play area that is perfect for all sorts of winter sports fun.

Sledding is extremely popular here, among other snow-tastic recreational activities. There’s no charge for your fun, and all playtime is free. When looking for equipment rentals, visitors can make their way to Wuksachi Lodge. The lodge is packed with all sorts of equipment to help make your time in the snow much more fun. Fees may be associated with all rental equipment.

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