Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are adjoining parks in east-central California that are managed as 1 national park. These national parks have been jointly administered since 1943 and have a total combined size of 1,353 square miles.
These parks have massive mountains, rugged foothills, incredibly deep canyons, caverns, and the largest trees in the world. Explore the great outdoors and see the beauty found within these 2 incredible parks. Sequoia and Kings Canyon are the perfect destinations for a trip of a lifetime.
How To Get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Where Are Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located in the southern Sierra Nevada, Fresno, and Tulare Counties in California. Visalia, California, is about 45 miles from the parks and is the closest major city to Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
Airports Nearest to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Traveling to these parks by plane is the fastest option and allows you to spend the bulk your time exploring the parks, not caught up in travel. There are 2 nearby airports to choose from when visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Let’s explore what each airport has to offer travelers.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)
Fresno Yosemite International Airport is about an hour and a half from the park entrance. Fresno Yosemite offers convenient access and gateway air service for tourists who plan to explore Sequoia and Kings Canyon and is the closest commercial airport to the park.
Fresno Yosemite offers nonstop flights to 14 major cities in the U.S. and Mexico and is serviced by many popular airlines, including AeroMexico, Allegiant, Delta, American Airlines, and Southwest.
Visalia Municipal Airport (VIS)
Visalia Municipal Airport is another option if flying is part of your travel itinerary. This airport is roughly an hour from the Sequoia entrance and an hour and a half from the Kings Canyon entrance.
This airport doesn’t have as many flights coming and going as Fresno Yosemite, and it isn’t served by well-known airlines. Some airlines serviced by Visalia include Pegasus Airlines and Aerolineas Mas.
Nothing says road trip like packing up your car or RV and heading out to a national park. A road trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is a trip of a lifetime. Highway 198 will take you right to Sequoia National Park. Kings Canyon National Park can be accessed via Highway 180.
Using a GPS or online map service will be helpful when it comes to avoiding routes with closed or unsuitable roads. RVs are an obvious choice if you’re planning a road trip, but before you hit the road, there are some things to consider when planning your itinerary.
There are certain entrances where RVs can enter and some entrances where they aren’t permitted. There are also some difficult routes and roads to avoid along the way if you’re traveling by RV.
Taking the Train to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Amtrak is an excellent option for traveling to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. While Amtrak won’t take you right to the park entrances, there are nearby stations.
The stations in Hanford and Fresno will get you very close. Once you arrive at the Amtrak station, you can utilize one of the Amtrak buses to get you as far as Visalia. From that point, you are able to utilize the Sequoia Shuttle to get to the park.
Using Amtrak services will provide you with a fun form of traveling and take the stress off your shoulders.
Taking the Bus to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Another great way to get to the park is to travel by bus. Greyhound stops in Visalia and Fresno. If you stop in Visalia, you can use the park shuttle to get you to the entrance.
Getting Around Sequoia and Kings National Parks
With a combined size of 1,353 square miles, it’s critical to have a plan for getting around in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. There are many tools available to help you navigate your trip around the park.
There is an online interactive atlas that is a very helpful tool. This resource isn’t limited to just finding the geography and layout of the parks. It also shares information, including wilderness regulations, visitor facilities, and natural resources found within the park.
The National Park Service also has a printable map that includes a map of each park, the surrounding areas and roads, driving mileage tables, and other useful resources.
The most popular way to travel in the park is by car. If you are visiting during peak season, the roads get busy with traffic and can be a bit frustrating, so planning to visit during less crowded times is an optimum choice.
Hot Tip: There is a free shuttle service that takes guests to many different spots in the park. This gives you a chance to truly take in the sights of the park and not have to worry about parking and other driving stressors.
What To See and Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have extensive attractions. See what these parks have to offer.
General Sherman Tree
Sequoia is known for its giant Sequoia trees, and it is home to the largest tree in the entire world. The General Sherman Tree is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter at the base. This popular attraction can be viewed after a half-mile downhill hike. Reading about this mighty tree is one thing, but standing next to it takes your experience to a whole new level.
The Giant Forest is in the heart of the park. This forest is home to half of the largest and longest-living trees on Earth.
The Giant Forest has over 8,000 massive Sequoia trees and was named by John Muir in 1875. Because of Muir’s heart for conservation, we can see these giant trees that have been standing for thousands of years.
Grizzly Falls is located in the Sequoia National Forest. The falls have a remote picnic area where you can be one with nature while enjoying a picnic with friends or family.
Grizzly Falls is known for its 80-foot waterfall that cascades over piles of rocks and into a stunning creek at the bottom. This waterfall is easy to view, as it is only a 0.1-mile hike to get to its splendor.
Checking out Grizzly Falls rewards visitors with amazing photos, incredible views, and a nice place to stop, rest, and refuel before heading back out to the park.
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is a 50-mile drive that is considered to be one of the best scenic drives in the state of California.
This winding road follows a river and takes visitors past huge canyons and impressive waterfalls. Some of the major attractions along the byway include General Grant Grove, Hume Lake, Grizzly Falls, and Boyden Cavern.
Junction View is a popular stop while visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon. This scenic overview offers remarkable views of the Western Sierra, the junction of 2 forks of the Kings River, and an incredible view of Kings Canyon.
Roaring River Falls
Flowing from Deadman Canyon and Cloud Canyon, Roaring River Falls is a spectacular attraction in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
The trail leading to this waterfall is considered an easy hike, and the ending reward is an incredible view of the waterfall, which drops into a mesmerizing pool of deep turquoise. This site will take your breath away and is a wonderful place for photographs or just taking in the scenery.
Zumwalt Meadow is infamously known as one of the most scenic meadows in the park. This area has a 1.8-mile loop trail around the meadow that takes adventurers along the river and up a rocky hillside that is surrounded by boulders and enormous canyon walls.
Zumwalt Meadow is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, bears, snakes, birds of prey, and yellow-bellied marmots.
The Best Times To Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks are open year-round, but there are times during the year that are better than others. So let’s check out optimal times to visit the park.
The Best Time To Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon in Winter
Winter is a magical time in Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Adventurers enjoy an abundance of winter snow activities and even winter wilderness trips. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular winter activities in the parks.
The best winter month for visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon is January, especially if you want to participate in winter activities. Many trails are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
February and March are the snowiest months for the park. You might experience unplowed or closed roads, but it may also be an even better time for skiing and snowshoeing among the sequoias.
The park shuttle service is open during the winter. It shuttles visitors throughout the Giant Forest area so the sequoia trees can be viewed in all their winter splendor.
The Best Time To Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon To Avoid the Crowds
The best time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon to avoid crowds is from November to April. The colder temperatures and snowy terrain often deter people from visiting. During these months, you can avoid crowds and participate in some snowy activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
If you want to visit during a warmer month, September may be a great option. After Labor Day, the number of visitors to the park decreases substantially. The weather is perfect for camping, and tours run throughout the month of September. This is also a great option because you don’t have to worry about closed roads.
The Best Time To Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon for Wildlife
If you are interested in seeing the diverse wildlife in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, the best time to do it is spring or early summer.
This time of year is perfect for viewing wildlife that are coming out of hibernation, including black bears and marmots. Visiting at sunrise or sunset is a great idea during this time as the animals are most active during these points of the day.
The Cheapest Time To Visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon
The cheapest time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon is between January and March. During this off-season, you may find discounted flights and save hundreds of dollars visiting the park.
While some parts of the park may be closed during these months due to snowy conditions, there is plenty to explore and discover during this time. Plus, you get to enjoy the park with fewer crowds and less traffic while saving money.
Annual Events in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia and Kings Canyon host several events throughout the year for adventurers to enjoy. From free entry days to special festivals, there is always something to do in these parks.
Throughout the year, the park offers free entry days for several special days. Some of these free entry days include Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day. Visiting on one of these days can offer incredible savings and a special day together.
From December to March, the park hosts ranger-guided snowshoe walks for visitors who want to hike the snow-covered trails. These one-of-a-kind walks are sure to create lasting memories.
Dark Sky Festival
An exciting festival offered in the park is the Dark Sky Festival. This event takes place throughout the day and night. There are events and presentations by astronauts and astronomers, and at night there’s time to discover the stars.
Trek to the Tree
Another exciting event held in the park is called Trek to the Tree. This Christmas event takes place at the General Grant Tree and is a tribute to the Americans who have given their lives for our country. It’s a beautiful time for guests to stand in awe of the magnificent tree and remember those who have served our nation.
Where To Stay in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Inside the Park
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have a wide variety of lodging options right inside the park. Whether you are looking for a stay in a rustic cabin, a fancy lodge, or out in the wilderness, you can rest assured that you will find the perfect accommodation for your vacation in the park.
Cedar Grove Lodge
Located in the heart of Kings Canyon, Cedar Grove Lodge is an ideal place to set up your base camp while visiting the park. The lodge is 35 miles from Grant Grove, and along your journey to the lodge, you will see stunning views.
Cedar Grove Lodge is open from May to mid-October and allows visitors to discover the park’s beauty. It’s surrounded by popular attractions, including Zumwalt Meadow, Grand Sentinel, and Roaring Falls. With this incredible location, guests can explore or relax by the river.
Grant Grove Cabins
Grant Grove Cabins are found in the Grant Grove Village and provide visitors with a rustic, secluded experience. This accommodation features tent cabins and timber cabins. Guests who stay at Grant Grove Cabins enjoy the simplicity of the accommodations as well as the location since these cabins are near many popular sights and activities in the park.
John Muir Lodge
John Muir Lodge is found in Grant Grove Village, near Grant Grove and the giant sequoia forest. This lodge was built in 1998 as a tribute to John Muir and is perfect for travelers who seek a cozy, quiet, and comfortable stay during their park vacation.
This gorgeous facility looks like a rustic cabin and has beautiful beamed ceilings, stone fireplaces, and reclaimed redwood mantelpieces from a historic cabin in the park. Guests are able to enjoy games, puzzles, and books in the lobby as well as the nearby restaurants while staying in this amazing lodge.
There are several options for staying in the wilderness while exploring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but the most well-known option is Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, though it is closed for the 2023 season due to fire recovery and the water infrastructure.
Bearpaw High Sierra Camp is found nearly 12 miles into the wilderness and on top of a 7,800-foot granite saddle looking over the Great Western Divide. You’ll need a permit to camp here. These permits are free but require advance reservations.
Bottom Line: Wilderness lodging provides an authentic camping and park experience that will forever be remembered.
Wuksachi Lodge is a signature hotel-style lodge set centrally in the park. Built from stone and cedar, this mountain lodge is surrounded by the sequoia forest and Sierra mountains, providing visitors with a breathtakingly beautiful atmosphere for lodging.
This accommodation is open year-round and has access to top attractions in the park, including the Giant Forest Museum, Crescent Meadow, Wolverton Recreation Area, and the Lodgepole Visitor and Market Center.
The lodge has 102 guest rooms to choose from, including standard, deluxe, and superior rooms with extensive amenities. Wuksachi Lodge also has an on-site restaurant that serves signature Sierra Alpine cuisine and a gift shop.
Accommodations Near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
There are many gateway towns near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Whether you’re seeking a quiet, quaint town or a lively town with lots of entertainment, you will find exactly what you need in one of these amazing gateway towns.
Dinuba is a town in California near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This gateway town is a rural community known for its historic downtown and beautiful scenery that includes mountains, vineyards, and orchards.
Those who choose to stay in Dinuba have several lodging choices, including chain hotels and small bed and breakfast locations.
Visitors to Dinuba have a host of entertainment options available during their stay. There are museums that display pioneer life and agriculture, a championship golf course and club, festivals, and a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Dinuba makes a great base camp for visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon, as it has something for everyone.
Exeter is located in the San Joaquin Valley and is another option for those who want to stay near the parks. This art and agricultural community is known today for its impressive supply of citrus, deciduous fruit, and table grapes.
This town has a population of about 10,000 people and is located at the base of the San Joaquin Mountain Range. Exeter is an ideal location for those who want to spend their days in the great outdoors, as it has some of the finest fishing, camping, hiking, and sightseeing in all of California.
If you want a small-town feel while visiting the parks, Exeter is the place you’re looking for — and it’s never short on entertainment. This sweet town has festivals, parades, garden walks, car shows, craft fairs, and marathons throughout the year.
For a historic, old-town atmosphere, guests can stay in Porterville while visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This gateway town is situated against the Sierra Nevada and is a charming option for those who want to stay near the parks.
This town offers a large variety of well-known chain hotels as well as smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts. In addition, the downtown area has one-of-a-kind boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, and a multicultural art center. Visitors especially enjoy the historic downtown murals throughout the area.
Porterville has an abundance of activities for visitors to enjoy. Available activities include hunting, fishing, rock climbing, camping, golfing, and hiking. Porterville is a perfect choice for visitors who want adventure, entertainment, and charm.
Three Rivers is located at the main entrance to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This small, unique village is found at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
With its close proximity to the parks, Three Rivers makes an excellent choice for a base camp. This town is nicknamed the “Gateway to the Sequoias” as it is only 8 miles from the southern entrance to Sequoia National Park.
Three Rivers has several options for lodging, with motels, rustic cabins, and lodges scattered around the small town. Travelers can find lots of adventure and entertainment in Three Rivers, including white water rafting, hiking, and learning about the history of the area in its local museum.
Tulare is a well-known agricultural community and shopping destination near Sequoia and Kings Canyon. This gateway town makes an ideal option for those who want to avoid crowds and experience an authentic rural California experience.
While Tulare has a small-town feel, there are several activities travelers enjoy here. From fine dining in one of the many restaurants in Tulare to shopping in its amazing outlets and shopping centers, Tulare has something for everyone.
There are also many festivals, expos, and museums. Tulare is an amazing option for those who want to stay near the parks and have fun experiences in addition to exploring the great outdoors.
Visalia is one of the most popular gateway towns to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This town is found in the foothills below the Sierra Nevada and is a great place to stay during your park vacation.
Visalia is known for its lively entertainment, art and history, and world-class restaurants. Those who choose outdoor forms of entertainment enjoy hiking, rafting, and biking throughout the area.
Visalia has numerous lodging options, including 5-star chain hotels and local inns. No matter if you’re looking for adventure or entertainment, making Visalia your base camp while vacationing at Sequoia and Kings Canyon will be a great choice.
Where To Eat in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Exploring a national park can work up an appetite, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks do not disappoint when it comes to providing incredible dining opportunities for their guests. From simple snack bars to gourmet dining, Sequoia and Kings Canyon have options to please every adventurer’s tastebuds.
Cedar Grove Snack Bar
If you are looking for a light meal or snack while exploring the park, look no further than Cedar Grove Snack Bar. This snack bar has indoor and outdoor seating, and food is ordered at a counter. Visitors can take advantage of Cedar Grove Grill for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The snack bar overlooks Kings River, so guests can enjoy their meal with a view.
Grant Grove Restaurant
Grant Grove Restaurant serves a locally sourced, sustainable, organic menu in a stunning, newly renovated lodge-style restaurant.
Grant Grove offers both indoor and outdoor dining. When dining in the restaurant, guests can choose from a plethora of delightful dishes from their new menu, which includes seafood, organic, local produce, and local organic meats.
The outdoor dining features a more casual menu and atmosphere. Guests are able to order pizza, sandwiches, ice cream, and coffee and enjoy them while taking in the spectacular views of the sequoia trees and Bradly Meadow.
Lodgepole Café is located just a few minutes from Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park. This cafe is a great option for those wanting to choose healthy options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Some of the most popular items on the menu include breakfast burritos, burgers, and sandwiches. Lodgepole Café covers common dietary restrictions, as it offers gluten-free and vegan options.
The Peaks Restaurant
The Peaks Restaurant is an elegant dining option centrally located in Sequoia National Park. This restaurant features local, fresh cuisine year-round during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Not only does The Peaks have an expansive menu, but it also lovingly accommodates guests with restricted dietary needs, including vegan and gluten-free options and kid-friendly cuisine.
Wuksachi Pizza Deck
Wuksachi Pizza Deck is located on the deck of the Wuksachi Lodge and is the perfect place to get your pizza fix while exploring Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
This dining option is open for lunch and dinner and features an impressive variety of pizzas, organic salads, and beer. Grab your food and head out to your favorite spot nearby and enjoy your pizza with a view of the stunning landscapes surrounding you.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Facts
1. 1 Park or 2?
Sequoia National Park was established in 1890 and spreads over 631 square miles. Kings Canyon National Park was established in 1940 and stretches over 722 square miles. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are technically 2 separate parks but have been managed as 1 national park since 1943.
2. Sequoia National Park, America’s Second National Park
Yellowstone was America’s first national park, and several years later, on October 1, 1890, Sequoia was named the second national park in America.
3. First Park To Protect a Living Organism
Sequoia National Park was the first park created to protect a living organism — the sequoia tree. These trees are only found in the western Sierra, and Sierra National Park was established to protect the sequoia trees from logging.
4. Home to the Tallest Mountain in the Lower 48
Mount Whitney is found in Sequoia National Park and is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states of America. This massive mountain stands at 14,494 feet tall. Some visitors to the park choose to hike the Mount Whitney Trail, which gives an incredible view of this majestic mountain.
5. Largest and Oldest Trees in the World
Sequoia National Park is home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. These trees can grow to be as tall as a 26-story building, with an average height between 180 and 250 feet tall. Sequoias have a special chemical in their bark that helps them stand tall for thousands of years.
The tallest sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park is the General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is 275 feet tall and has a diameter of more than 36 feet at its base. This tree is Sequoia National Park’s most famous attraction.
6. Diverse Wildlife
From the foothills to the peaks of the majestic mountains, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are home to over 315 different animal species, including black bears, falcons, mountain bluebirds, and bobcats. Other animals found in the park include lizards, newts, gray foxes, skinks, and California quail.
7. Miles and Miles of Trails
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have over 800 miles of trails to be explored. Some of the famous trails include the John Muir Trail, Crescent Meadow Loop Trail, and Big Stump Trail.
Whether you choose an easy, gentle trail or an adventurous, difficult trail, you can rest assured knowing that you will discover the beauty of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks along your journey. Hiking through the giant sequoias, near the rushing rivers, and next to the impressive waterfalls will help create memories that will last a lifetime.
8. Home to 2 Endangered Species
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are home to an abundance of wildlife. Endangered species found in the park include the bighorn sheep and mountain yellow-legged frog.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife relocated 14 bighorn sheep to the parks in 2014 in an effort to protect them from extinction. Today, there are 11 herds of bighorn sheep that can be found in the park.
As for the mountain yellow-legged frogs, these amphibians were moved to lakes at higher levels of elevation in hopes that they would be safe from the trout and be able to grow and expand in numbers.
9. Natural Wonders to Behold
We know that the great sequoias in Sequoia and Kings Canyon are famous natural wonders, but these parks have more to offer.
Crystal Cave is a cavern with fragile formations that can be seen on a guided tour. Moro Rock is another natural wonder where adventurers can discover the famous granite domes of the Sierra.
10. Mountaineering Through the Parks
A popular activity in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is mountaineering. There are amazing routes to scale throughout the park that range from easy to extremely difficult. Popular areas include Charlotte Dome, Angel Wings, Grand Sentinel, and Obelisk.
11. Where Kings Canyon Got Its Name
In 1805, a Spanish explorer named the river Rio de Los Santos Reyes, which means river of the holy kings. Kings Canyon got its name from this translation of the river’s name.
12. General Grant National Park
Before Kings Canyon was established, General Grant National Park was formed to protect the mighty sequoias in the area.
Later on, a new national park called Kings Canyon was established, which incorporated General Grant National Park. Therefore, we no longer call this park General Grant National Park, but Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon National Park shares the title of America’s third national park with Yosemite.
13. Plants Galore
It is very well known that Sequoia has many sequoia trees found in the park, but this park is home to over 1,200 other plant species. This plant life includes shrubs, brush, oaks, sycamores, willows, and other hardwoods.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are the ultimate destinations for an unforgettable national park trip.
Whatever you are seeking for your trip, whether it is an adventurous exploration of the parks, viewing the incredible wildlife, or simply taking in the scenery of these majestic places, you can discover all of this and more at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.