Imagine a Sequoia National Park camping trip where you sleep near some of the tallest trees in the world. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley, the park was established in 1890 to protect the sequoia trees from logging. Around 50 years later, Kings Canyon National Park was formed and lies right beside Sequoia National Park, so you can easily visit two national parks in one trip. Planning a trip to Sequoia National Park is super simple, so if you are a lover of nature and looking to take advantage of everything these majestic parks have to offer, consider planning a Sequoia National Park camping trip as your next adventure.
Things to Know about Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is one of the most expansive landscapes in the country. It is home not only to sequoia groves, but also to glacial canyons, broad lake basins, beautiful meadows, and granite peaks. Together, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park contain nearly 300 native animal species, including black bears, bobcats, mule deer, white-footed moose, and an array of birds.
Sequoia National Park is most popular in the summer, but the park is open 365 days a year. However, starting in September, certain park facilities have reduced hours and there are fewer ranger programs taking place. During the winter months, some roads may be closed due to snow until they can be plowed. Some parts of the park close entirely during parts of the year because access is too difficult, but the overall park always remains open to visitors. It is best to check what parts of the park are open and what programs are being offered when you are planning a Sequoia National Park camping trip, so you do not miss an activity you really want to take part in.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the elevation ranges so much across the park that weather varies greatly from one area to another. Summertime is most popular because the temperature among the sequoias is comfortable and offers a break from the heat of the surrounding foothills. Around September the nights are typically cooler, but the weather this time of year changes quickly.
The timing of snowfall varies widely and is difficult to predict. Light snows are not uncommon starting in late October. It may be surprising to know that wildflowers start to appear across the park as early as January and they become abundant throughout spring. Depending on the elevation, spring in the park generally lasts from around April to June, although the sequoia groves are often still snowy this time of year.
Entrance to the park does require a fee, but there are multiple options depending on your vehicle type or how often you plan on visiting the park or other national parks. If you are planning a Sequoia National Park camping trip, there is an additional daily fee for a camping site, which varies depending on the campground and the site.
READ MORE: 13 Must Have Camping Necessities
Sequoia National Park Camping
You have a lot of options when you plan a Sequoia National Park camping trip. There are 14 campgrounds between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Campgrounds require reservations in advance but these can easily be made online. There are some first-come, first-serve campsites, but they are limited, so if you are planning a visit during the busy summer season, you may not want to take the chance of snagging one if you do not have a backup plan.
All campsites are equipped with a picnic table, a fire ring with a grill for cooking, and a metal food storage box. The fee for camping varies depending on the campground but starts at $22 per night (or $11 per night for seniors), so it is insanely affordable to spend the night right in the middle of one of the nation’s amazing national parks. If you are planning a Sequoia National Park camping trip with an RV, be aware that there are no RV hookups at either of these parks and there are set hours when campers are allowed to run generators.
If traditional camping is not your thing, do not worry. There are other lodging options available, including cabins at Kings Canyon National Park and three lodges available in different areas of both parks. It is more expensive to stay in these accommodations, but they offer food and beverage, retail, and other services.
Before You Go
Once you have your plan set and before you hit the road, there are a few things you can do to make your Sequoia National Park camping trip easier. First, download the National Park Service mobile app to learn about things like the park trails, the visitor center, campgrounds, directions, fees and passes, weather alerts. Then, be sure to buy your entrance pass to the park and make camping reservations in advance. This will reduce your wait time at the park’s entrance station and will ensure you have the perfect camping spot.
While You Are There
Of course, the first item on your must-do list when you are on a Sequoia National Park camping trip is to visit the giant sequoia groves. Within the park itself, there are 40 identified giant sequoia groves that range from one to tens of thousands of sequoia trees per grove. Many of these groves can be reached by road, but others can only be reached by a pretty significant hike, so you can visit the groves that are right for your style.
The grove known as Giant Forest is home to the largest living sequoia tree that is known as General Sherman. It stands 275 feet tall and is 36 feet in diameter at its base. Giant Forest also has an extensive network of hiking trails that range from hikes that take a few hours to hikes that can take up to half a day or longer just in this grove alone.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day there are all kinds of free National Parks Ranger-led programs you can take advantage of while on your Sequoia National Park camping trip. Limited programs run throughout the rest of the year. No matter what season it is, the programs being offered are listed online, but it is also a good idea to check at the visitor’s center to see what is on the schedule in case programs are added or canceled.
Programs typically offered include hikes through sequoia groves, moonlight walks, climbs, a campfire program in the amphitheater, and visitor center talks, where you can learn about bears and other mountain wildlife. If you are planning a Sequoia National Park camping trip during the snowy season, consider a ranger-guided snowshoe walk. They are a popular way to explore the park’s snowy trails and are usually offered from December to March, as long as there are at least 8 inches of snow on the ground.
READ MORE: A Beginners Guide to Grand Canyon Camping
Sequoia National Park is an amazing place if you get the chance to visit and explore it. The giant sequoias in these two parks are natural wonders that you cannot fully grasp until you see them in person. Being on a Sequoia National Park camping trip gets you close to the breathtaking natural wonders found only in this part of the country. If you know when to go and what to check out, planning a national park adventure has never been easier.
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