Located in eastern California, about 5 hours drive from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, Sequoia National Park brings out the best in all those who seek both adventure and tranquility. Though full of mountains of all geological make-ups to climb and scamper in, the park's true greatness is in the forest. Home to some of the largest trees in the world, the Sequoia, this park you have to see to believe. "If trees could be kings," say many, "their royal realm would be in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks."
Only three campgrounds are open year-round: Lodgepole, Azalea, and Potwisha. Four campgrounds do not permit trailers and RVs: Buckeye Flat, Canyon View, Atwell Mill, and Cold Springs. In other campgrounds, site size varies and many sites are not suitable for very long RVs. There is a camping limit of 14 days during the period from June 14 to September 15 with a total of 30 days per calendar year.
Both roads leading to these parks approach from the west. They are open all day, every day, depending on weather. No roads cross these parks. From the east, no roads reach the park boundary. See the map at the bottom of this page. For current park road conditions and other information call: 1-559-565-3341.
To enter Sequoia National Park:
From highways 65 or 99, go east on Highway 198 to the park entrance.
To enter Kings Canyon National Park:
From Highway 99, go east on Highway 180 to the park entrance.
The main park road, the Generals Highway, connects these two entrances.
Lodgepole Campground (in Sequoia)
Open all year.
Location: At 6700-foot (2042m) elevation along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, 2 miles (3km) from the Giant Forest sequoia grove; 21 miles from Sequoia Park entrance.
Dorst Creek Campground (in northern Sequoia Park)
Open June 26 through September 10, 2009.
Location: At 6800-foot (2073m) elevation near Dorst Creek, 10 miles (16km) from Giant Forest, under open stands of evergreen trees. 204 sites.
Park HQ Address
63284 River Drive
Sequoia National Park, CA, 93262
Sequoia National Park is a masterpiece created by nature. Here you can see the world's largest living organism. The following are just a few of the many sights to see in the park.
Named in 1875 by explorer and conservationist John Muir, Giant Forest is celebrated for its beautiful meadows and its sequoia grove, the park's most famous attraction. The first thing to do in Giant Forest is to go to the Giant Forest Museum, where exhibits and park rangers will help you understand the story of this beautiful grove. The cinnamon-colored Big Trees, members of the redwood family, may be seen today as Muir found them, "Giants grouped in pure temple groves, or arranged in colonnades along the sides of meadows." The northern fringe of the grove is guarded by the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. The two-mile looping Congress Trail provides access to the majority of these trees.
This gargantuan sequoia, while neither the tallest nor the widest tree, is considered the largest living tree in the world because of its volume. It weighs approximately 2.7 million pounds, and it is believed to be approximately 2,100 years old. Its height is 274.9 feet, and its circumference at ground level is 102.6 feet. The diameter of its largest branch is 6.8 feet. Every year, it adds enough wood to make a 60-foot-tall tree measuring one foot in diameter, and it's still growing. It was named in 1879 by James Wolverton, a pioneer cattleman who had served under General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. The tree is accessed from Wolverton Road, four miles north of the Giant Forest Museum along the Generals Highway.
Moro Rock is a large granite dome also found in the Giant Forest area. Common in the Sierra Nevada, domes are formed by exfoliation, or the casting off in sheets of rock layers on otherwise unjointed granite. Outward expansion of the granite results in exfoliation. Taking a 0.25-mile trail, you can climb nearly 400 steep steps to the top of the barren rock (6,725-foot elevation). It offers an unparalleled view (especially at sunset) of the Great Western Divide and its verdant canyons. Watch out for lightning. The Moro Rock parking area is 1.5 miles from the Giant Forest Museum. The road is closed in winter.
Hale Tharp, the first non-American Indian settler in the area, established a cattle ranch among the Big Trees. He also built a simple summer cabin from a fallen, fire-hollowed sequoia log in the 1860s. It is the oldest pioneer cabin remaining in the park. Muir called it "a noble den." The cabin is located in the Giant Forest area, a mile northeast of the Crescent Meadow parking lot.
John Muir is said to have called this lovely, grassy, open area the "gem of the Sierra." It is located 1.5 miles east of the Moro Rock parking area. A hike on the trail around the meadow takes about an hour.
The parks protect more than 200 caves, including Crystal Cave. Formed of limestone that has been metamorphosed into marble, it is decorated with curtains of icicle-like stalactites and mounds of stalagmites. To reach it, you must drive to the end of the twisting, seven-mile road heading west from Generals Highway two miles south of the Giant Forest Museum. Trailers, RVs and buses are prohibited because the road is extremely narrow. From the parking area, it is a 15-minute hike down a steep path to the cave entrance. The cave can be toured in summer only. Sequoia Natural History Association offers daily, 45-minute guided tours from mid-May through late October. A jacket or sweater is recommended since it is about 50°F in the cave. Information is available at park visitor centers, call (559) 565-3759 or visit www.sequoiahistory.org. Tickets are not sold at Crystal Cave and must be purchased at least 1.5 hours in advance at Lodgepole or Foothills visitor centers only.
From Highway 198, three miles east of Three Rivers, is a 25-mile winding road leading to Mineral King. Because of 598 tight turns, the drive takes about 1.5 hours. The glacial valley, added to Sequoia in 1978, was named by 19th-century prospectors searching for silver. To see Mineral King at a leisurely pace, it's best to stay at one of the two area campgrounds, Atwell Mill or Cold Springs (no trailers permitted). With 11 different trails, Mineral King is a hikers' heaven. Avalanches have mowed down trees on the valley floor so lowlands are covered with wild meadows. Forests of lodgepole pine, sequoias and white and red fir are at higher elevations. The rocky landscape is colorful: rusty-red shales, white marble and granite, and a black metamorphic shale. Alpine trails begin at the 7,500-foot elevation and most climbs are steep. This road is closed in winter; it also prohibits vehicles longer than 22 feet in any season.
Hospital Rock, about six miles northeast of the Foothills Visitor Center, was the home of a subgroup of the Monache people until the 1870s. You can see pictographs as well as nearly 50 grinding spots used by Monache women to grind acorns into flour, the staple of these American Indians' diets.