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 come here to see the famed trees yet stay and return, year after year, to uncover the multitude of other splendors the park has to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts of all levels and abilities can find a haven here.

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.

It’s a place that is worth traveling throughout, so visiting with an RV or camper is highly recommended. 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 of those travelling with a larger haul. There are length limits and advisories set in place for trailers, RVs, and any other type of vehicle over 22 feet. 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 to 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 still 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, and 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

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' 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.

Potwisha Campground

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.

Lodgepole Campground

Lodgepole is an often highly populated campground with 214 sites that are available for RVs, trailers, and regular tent camping. If arriving in fall, it’s best to check in with the grounds, as certain loops tend to be closed off during the season. RV camping is usually limited to the central overflow parking area at this time. It’s strongly recommended that you make reservations for camping to ensure space is left available for you to stay. Since Lodgepole is in such an ideal location, tucked right between both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon, it’s a spot that will fill up quickly. The grounds rests just a few miles from the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove and has the added perk of the free Sequoia Shuttle making a stop here. This makes getting around a breeze, even when you have to leave your main source of transportation behind. Reservations should be made during summer and fall seasons. Amenities included at the campground are flush toilets, showers, a laundry facility, market, and more. As part of Lodgepole Village, you’ll have ample commodities.

Dorst Creek Campground

This campground is located only 20 minutes from Lodgepole Village and is one of many that lie along the Generals Highway. It’s a stretch of roadway that connects the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, meaning the grounds along it can be enjoyed by those staying in either park. There are 219 sites available for tent camping, RVing, and places that will accommodate travel trailers. Usually, the campground will open in mid-June and remain active until early September. It all depends on how the weather is holding out and what drought conditions are like. Visitors of the campground will find flush toilets and enjoy the added bonus of the Sequoia Shuttle that makes a stop at the grounds.

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.

Dorst Creek Campground

Located just 20 minutes from Lodgepole Village, Dorst Creek is one of many that lie along the Generals Highway. There are 219 sites available for tent camping, RVing, and places that will accommodate travel trailers. Sites are all first-come, first-served, but, reservations can be made (and are advised during peak seasons). Dorst Creek provides its visitors with flush toilets and has the added perk of being a stop for the Sequoia Shuttle.

Lodgepole Campground

The grounds return to first-come, first-served status once reservation seasons are over. All dates outside May through September are fair game for your stay. Lodgepole has 214 sites available for tent campers, 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. You won’t find hookups here, but the grounds provide flush toilets, pay phones, and other amenities at the Lodgepole Village. The Sequoia Shuttle also runs near the grounds, so it makes getting around a breeze, even after you’ve parked.

Alternate camping

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. There are 40 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. No water is available, so, come prepared. There are, however, pay phones, vault toilets, and multiple trailheads that lead out from the grounds.

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. Campsites here are first-come, first-served and sites are limited to one vehicle. There is a fully wheelchair accessible site here, as well.

South Fork Campground

RVers won’t find refuge at South Fork. This is a campground 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.

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 a site that is accessible for individuals in wheelchairs. 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

Rock Climbing

Scaling the Sequoia is a popular pastime by many of the park’s visitors. Sequoia offers rocky routes that challenge climbers of all range in ability. Some popular routes climbers share with Kings Canyon National Park include the Grand Sentinel, Chimney Rock, and Obelisk. The Sequoia favorite, Moro Rock, is always worth a visit, too. The park brings special attention to its residents, the peregrine falcons, that typically will be found nesting in Moro Rock. This event closes off the area from April and through August in order to protect the birds and respect their space. Climbing is free to continue at all other sites.

Horseback Riding

Some of the best horseback riding can be enjoyed at Sequoia, with several locations providing riding services for riders 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.

Park Tours

Half-day tours are provided by Sequoia Sightseeing Tours. These tours of Sequoia National Park depart, conveniently, 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 so much more. Reservations are highly recommended, as this is quite a popular tour.

Wildlife Viewing

From black bear to birds of many feathers and from fish to falcons; you’ll never be without 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. Be sure to bring your binoculars. They are the greatest tool to keep you safely watching wildlife from a distance.

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 falls. It’s not a particularly difficult walk to get to this destination, so you won’t have to wait long to see the falls’ splendor.

Summer

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’s length is a bit 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 about having a park Ranger on hand to ask any questions. The insights from these experts is the perfect way to learn about the park’s wonders. Whether you get to enjoy a guided hike, a nightly program, or any other assortment of activities, you surely won’t be disappointed. Most Ranger programs are held throughout the summer, so it’s the perfect time to get involved.

Crystal Cave

Located between the Ash Mountain entrance and Giant Forest, Crystal Cave requires a half-mile scenic stroll in order to arrive at its mouth. All summer long, the Sequoia Parks Conservancy offers guided tours from mid-May through September. Tours include a whole range of exploration, and some allow you to really get in depth. Tickets must be purchased before arriving to the cave and can be bought at the Foothills Visitors Center.

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. The Parks Conservancy often hold a Wonders of the Night Sky program, and the Dark Skies Festival is another popular evening event where the stars are rightly celebrated.

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.

Fall

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-long 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!

Walk Among Giants

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.

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 suggested.

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. So much is worth capturing in this photographer’s paradise.

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.

Winter

Cross-Country Skiing

It’s a cross-country skier’s paradise here at Sequoia National Park. In the very heart of the park, 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.

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 snow plow.

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 sport fun. Sledding is extremely popular here, among other snow-tastic recreation. 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.

Guided Snowshoe Walks

Easy, fun, and a totally unique way to wander among the giant Sequoias of the park. 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, Rangers in Giant Forest provide guided snowshoe walks that are free of charge. They are perfect for beginners who also want to learn more about the park.

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.

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