Summer is high season for Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Although the parks get a combined attendance that is a fraction of nearby visits Yosemiteexpect crowds on popular trails near the redwoods and in the giant forest area. With warm days, most slush, and open wilderness trails, it’s a great time for scenic drives, camping carlong hikes and fishing.
Spring comes at very different times in these parks, due to their wide range of elevations and biozones. In the Hillslook for bright bursts of wild flowers (such as yellow fiddlers and harlequin lupine) in April and May. In June, expect to see bursts of color parade through the high mountains.
In autumn, the family crowds begin to disperse and the evenings become chilly, but hiking And backpack are always on the menu (if you don’t mind snuggling up in a higher sleeping bag). Wildfires have become a major issue in this part of California, emboldened by climate change, and campfire restrictions will most likely be in effect during this season.
Like many California mountain parks, much Sequoia and Kings Canyon closes when winter snows hit hard, though a few areas remain perfectly open for kids to enjoy the fluffy white stuff. Get your snow chains ready and head to Grant Grove or the Wolverton Snow Playground if you are visiting from December to March. Wuksachi Lodge also rents cross-country skis and snowshoes for intrepid travelers who want to explore more.
How to get there
The closest airports to Sequoia & Kings Canyon are Fresno–Yosemite International Airport And Visalia Municipal Airport. During the summer months, the $20 Sequoia Shuttle comes and goes from the Visalia Transit Center. Once inside the park, shuttle passengers can hop on and off a variety of routes in the park to major sites like Moro Rock and Lodgepole.
Still, most visitors will want to take a road trip, or rent a car, for the freedom to explore (and stay late for the sunset). Just be prepared for twisty mountain roads and vehicle length restrictions for rigs over 22 feet. Are you from the north? Enter via Big Stump from Hwy 180. Driving from sunny SoCal? Head to the small gateway town of Three Rivers (and don’t forget to grab a scoop of by Reimer ice cream) on Hwy 198 and cross the Ash Mountain entrance.
Top things to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Admire the trees
From afar, the main attraction of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is seeing the grandeur of the groves of giant sequoias up close. The good news is that the National Park Service has gone to great lengths to ensure these natural wonders are accessible to all ages and mobility levels, opening up wheelchair-friendly trails through some of the best old-growth forests in the country. Check General Grant Tree TrailTHE General Sherman Treeand the Tall Trees Trail for gentle meanders through age-old conifers.
Hiking and backpacking
Adventurous hikers who prefer the rough looking for less traveled redwood groves can find them by hiking the 2.7 mile Congress Trail or the 4.8 mile trail Atwell Grove Trail, in the distant Mineral King. There’s also the option to grab a hiking permit, strap on a backpack, and hike 13 miles along the Middle Fork Trail to redwood meadow launch a tent for the night.