Do you love our National Park System?
I absolutely love National Parks and Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park were no exception. They were awe inspiring and an absolute must see. Read more about my experiences in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park too.
We visited the park in July. Here is my guide to visiting Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park.
Things to Know Before You Go Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park
Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons, and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks has plenty to see .
Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are national parks in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California.
Park Entrance Fee
The National Park Service charges $30 for a vehicle pass. This fee includes both Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park and is valid for up to 7 days. To save time at the entrance, you can purchase your ticket online in advance.
However, if you are visiting multiple parks, purchase the National Park Pass here for $80 per year. The pass is good for National Parks and valid for one year from purchase date.
Hours of Operation
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are open 24 hours a day 365 days per year. However, road closures due to snow will limit access to several areas of the park from October through May. If you are driving into the park through Three Rivers be aware of the size limit on the road. We were with friends whose RV was larger than 22 feet and had to change which entrance we entered through. Be prepared for winding roads. If you get car sick, roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh air!
Be Prepared for Crowds
The most crowded spots was the General Sherman Tree, the General Grant Tree, and Moro Rock during our visit on a Saturday in July, parking in Sequoia National Park was extremely limited. We found parking spots but most required 1/4-1/2 mile hike to the main parking lots. It was worth every step. We were very lucky at General Sherman Tree. Signs were out everywhere telling us the parking lot was full but we took a chance and ended up finding many spots.
The National Park Service operates a shuttle in Sequoia National Park. This shuttle connects Moro Rock, the Giant Forest Museum, and the General Sherman tree for free. Learn more about the shuttle service here. The shuttle is a huge plus in the park. We were in the park on a Saturday and some of the roads to the main sites were closed and the shuttle was the only way to get without a hike. Be prepared for long lines though.
Where to stay in Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park
We opted to camp and choose Dorst Creek Campground. It was a very nice campground. You can reserve spots on recreation.gov. The campground was very quiet with great spots. The kids really enjoyed exploring and found some very large amazing pinecones. The also loved the river that runs through the campground. The campground has flush toilets but no electricity. The park shuttle will also pick you up to take you to see the sites too. The closest showers at are Lodgepole, a 15/20 minute drive down the road. Lodgepole is a visitor center. It has a store and restaurant too.
We ran into some friends during our visit (crazy right!?!). They opted to stay in an AirBnB in Three Rivers. Others we spoke to stayed in hotels in Three Rivers or Visalia (both outside the park).
Top Things to do in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park:
General Grant Grove
- Grant Grove is located in Kings Canyon National Park, accessible by a short spur road from Highway 180 and located just 1.5 miles from the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. Close to the parks entrance you can also see many of the Sequoia forests largest stumps.
- The fallen Tunnel Log of Sequoia National Park came into being after an unnamed giant sequoia fell across the Crescent Meadow Road in late 1937. The opening is 17 feet wide and 8 feet high. If you want to drive through you must visit during the week as the road is closed to cars on the weekends.
A mile hike to Moro Rock can get your heart pumping
- A concrete and stone stairway leads over 350 steps to the top of Moro Rock. It is a short distance from the parking area and above the forests’s canopy, the surrounding mountain peaks become visible. As you climb, views open up from the foothills and San Joaquin Valley to the west, to deep into wilderness to the east.
- Handrails along the way make the climb relatively safe, though you should keep a close eye on small children because of steep dropoffs along the entire route. The hike can be strenuous; taking your time as you climb can help you adjust to the thinner air at higher elevations.
- Moro Rock was one of our favorite stops in Sequoia National Park!
It is worth a stop to see the Giant Forest Museum also before your visit Moro Rock and the Tree Tunnel.
General Sherman’s Tree
- The General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest tree, measured by volume. It stands 275 feet (83 m) tall, and is over 36 feet (11 m) in diameter at the base. Sequoia trunks remain wide high up. Sixty feet above the base, the Sherman Tree is 17.5 feet (5.3 m) in diameter.
- Two trails lead to the Tree. One from the disability parking lot from the main road and the other from the main parking lot. From the main lot, hike down approximately one mile.
- A fence protects the tree. Expect a lot of visitors and a line to get your photo taken in front of the tree.
- It was incredible to see in person!
- An easy trail offers splendid views of high granite walls, a lush meadow, impressive talus, and the meandering Kings River. Walk a short way along an accessible boardwalk to the meadow’s edge, or continue on a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) loop trail around the entire meadow.
- Crystal Cave is an example of a marble cavern. A half-mile loop trail leads through the cave, and there’s also a steep half-mile walk to and from the cave parking area to the entrance. Because of fragile formations, the only way to visit the cave is on a guided tour. Tours are suitable for all ages
We only spent one day exploring the park (wish it was more!). We started with the Giant Forest Museum, bused to Moro Rock and it was certainly worth all the steps it took to get there. I was recovering from altitude sickness and took the shuttle to the tree tunnel. My friends conquered the mile hike instead. We also visited General Sherman’s Tree and the Stumps as we left the park. One day of exploring was not enough and plan to visit again very soon!
Look out soon from my upcoming post of our Yosemite National Park Adventure.
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