Sequoia National Park is an excellent site to gain a sense of our place in the natural world. On September 25, 1890, the country’s second national park was formed to protect the Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) from logging, making it the country’s first national park to protect a living thing. In the park’s Enormous Forest alone, there are about 8,000 giant sequoia trees, with countless more beyond. The main reason to go is to see these massive trees up close: Standing in a grove of the world’s largest trees will make you feel small and awestruck.
The California condor’s range formerly included Sequoia and the neighbouring Central California region. If you look closely during your visit, you might see North America’s largest land bird flying amid the gigantic sequoias. For the first time in at least three decades, these endangered birds were observed in the park in late May 2020.
Best Time to Visit
While Sequoia National Park is open all year, the best time to visit is from June to August, when the weather is the most steady. Throughout June, the spring wildflowers bloom, and the enormous groves provide welcome shade in the summer. Some facility hours and ranger-led programming will be reduced beginning in September. Winter comes snow, which necessitates the use of snow chains or tires to properly negotiate park roads.
How to get there?
Depending on where you’re coming from, there are two primary entrances to the parks. Visitors from the Los Angeles region often go through Bakersfield to reach the Ash Mountain Entrance off of Highway 198, while those travelling from San Francisco or Northern California typically travel through Fresno to reach the Big Stump Entrance off of Highway 180. The Ash Mountain Entrance is considered to be more scenic, but it is also quite windy and has several tight curves. Both roads are ploughed and normally open throughout the winter, but check the conditions in case a recent storm has prompted closures and always bring tyre chains.
The nearest major airport is Fresno Yosemite International Airport, which is roughly an hour and a half away from the park’s Big Stump Entrance.
What to Do in Sequoia National Park
The verdant Foothills bloom with spring wildflowers, while the Huge Forest and Lodgepole regions safeguard vast groves of giant sequoias and Moro Rock, while Mineral King, a subalpine valley, teems with granite vistas and pine and sequoia forests. The group of trees that gives Sequoia its name, on the other hand, is not to be missed. History, caving, hiking, and climbing enthusiasts will enjoy the park’s other attractions.
Sequoia National Park Hiking Trails
Alta Peak Trail
Mist Falls Trail
Mt. Whitney Summit
Big Stump Trail
Where to stay
Drive-in to walk-in, well-equipped to basic, riverfront to higher elevation, the park’s seven campgrounds have it all. Three campgrounds are located along the Kaweah River in the Foothills: Potwisha Campground and Buckeye Flat Campground are both located in tree groves on the Middle Fork, while the appropriately titled South Fork Campground is located on the river’s South Fork. Lodgepole Campground and Dorst Creek Campground are two other campgrounds close to Giants Forest.
Atwell Mill Campground and Cold Springs Campground, the park’s highest-elevation campgrounds, are only available during the summer. Because the road that leads to this region does not link directly to the park, you’ll have to backtrack and take a different road to get to the main park road, where you may see major attractions like Giant Forest.
The 102-room Wuksachi Lodge, operated by Sequoia National Park, is located in the Giant Forest area, near General Sherman and hiking routes to Lodgepole, Cahoon Meadow, and Twin Lakes. It has a restaurant and a cocktail lounge that is open all year. Silver City Resort, located in the Mineral King area, is a family-owned historic hideaway featuring off-grid cabins for resting in nature.