Here are some quick facts about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
- Established : 1890
- Land Size : 865,920 acres
- Annual Visitors : 2 million
- State : California
- Entrance Fees : $20 per person, $35 per vehicle
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Where are Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located in the eastern part of California. They are located approximately 80 miles southeast of Fresno, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, and 250 miles to the south of Sacramento.
What are Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks famous for?
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which are affectionately called SeKi by locals, are known for their large groves of giant sequoia trees.
These ancient trees can reach huge proportions, towering hundreds of feet above the forest floor below. Some of the largest stands of giant sequoias in the world are found within the boundaries of these two parks.
Additionally, some of the largest individual trees on the planet, including the General Sherman and the Grant Tree, are located within Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon National Park is also particularly famous for its rugged geological features. It is home to massive 14,000’ peaks, alpine meadows, raging white water rivers, and glacially carved valleys that are worth a visit if you’re up for a backcountry adventure.
What is the best month to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?
The best month to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is in June.
During this time, the daytime temperatures are generally quite comfortable, though not too warm, particularly within the giant sequoia groves. Summer days in the High Sierra tend to be quite sunny and pleasant, though afternoon thunderstorms are always a possibility.
Additionally, by June, most, if not all, of the local highways should be snowfree, as should the trails. If you want to venture into the mountains, be aware that some trails can be covered in snow until mid-July.
While the summer months are also the most crowded time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon, they are the best options if you want to experience as much of the parks as possible during your trip.
What to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?
How many days do I need in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?
You could spend months walking through the giant sequoia groves and exploring the backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
However, if you’re short on time, here’s how many days you need to visit these great parks.
Four days (short trip)
For a short trip into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, 4 days will give you enough time to see the highlights and most popular attractions. Staying in the heart of the park at Lodgepole Campground or another site near the groves gives you a great starting point for your adventures.
From there, you can hike the Big Trees Trail and Moro Rock in the Giant Forest and then head over to the Grant Grove to hike the Grant Tree Trail. Other must-do activities during a short trip include a scenic drive along the Generals Highway and taking a tour of Crystal Cave.
14 days (long trip)
If you have the time in your schedule, a 14 day trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon provides ample time to experience all that these parks have to offer. With 2 weeks at your disposal, you can spend the first half of your trip exploring the giant sequoia groves in both parks.
During the second part of your adventure, you can head off into the backcountry for a backpacking trip around Rae Lakes, make a summit attempt on Mount Whitney, or try your hand at horsepacking on an overnight trip.
How to get to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?
Although Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are located in a highly mountainous region of California, they are both fairly accessible to visitors.
These are some of the best ways to get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon during your next trip.
- Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT). The closest major airport to the southern Sierra, Fresno Yosemite International Airport is just a 1.5 hour drive to the northeast of Sequoia and Kings Canyon. The airport has regular flights throughout the US and Mexico on Aeroméxico, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United, and Volaris.
- Sacramento International Airport (SMF). Sequoia and Kings Canyon are just over 4 hours away from Sacramento International Airport. From Sacramento, there are connecting flights to many of the world’s major cities on nearly every US-based air carrier.
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Just a 4 hour drive to the south of Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the largest airport in the western United States. It offers daily connections all around the globe on most of the world’s major airlines.
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the second busiest airport in California. It is a 4.5 hour drive from Sequoia and Kings Canyon and it is a major gateway to destinations in Europe and Asia. Many of the world’s largest airlines fly out of San Francisco, servicing most of the major cities around the globe.
- California Highway 99 & 198. Sequoia and Kings Canyon are about a 1.5 hour drive to the northeast from Fresno on California Highways 99 and 198.
- I-5 & California Highway 65. From Los Angeles, Sequoia and Kings Canyon are approximately 3.5 hours away (without traffic, of course) along I-5 and California Highway 65.
- California Highway 99. The state capital of Sacramento is a 4 hour drive to the north of Sequoia and Kings Canyon on California Highway 99.
Although there is no direct public transportation to Sequoia and Kings Canyon from any of California’s major cities the Sequoia Shuttle offers roundtrip bus service to and from the nearby town of Visalia.
From Visalia, one can take a Greyhound bus to Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Los Angeles. All of these cities have sizable airports and other transportation options around California and the rest of the United States.
What to see in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?
There’s plenty to see and do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
From gazing up at giant sequoias to adventuring in the alpine of the High Sierra, here are some of the best things to do during your trip to the parks.
If you’re planning on an early spring trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon, a day hike to see Mist Falls is an excellent choice. This 8 mile (12.9km) long trail leaves from the Road’s End Permit Station and brings you to the base of one of the largest waterfalls in the area.
From the falls, there are also some other side trips you can check out, such as a short journey into Paradise Valley, which provide outstanding views of the Sierra Nevada.
The Giant Forest is located in Sequoia National Forest. It is home to some of the most massive trees in the world, including the General Sherman Tree, which is the largest in the world by volume.
At the Giant Forest, you can enjoy short hikes on well-maintained trails as well as a steep climb up to the summit of Moro rock. If it’s your first visit to the park, be sure to stop in at the Giant Forest Museum near the parking lot before heading into the grove.
One of the largest sequoia groves in Kings Canyon National Park, Grant Grove is a must visit if you want to see some massive trees. The grove’s namesake, the General Grant, is among the biggest in the world and is believed to be well over 1,000 years old.
Other famous tree-related attractions in the grove include the Fallen Monarch and the Centennial Stump, both of which can be reached on mostly flat hiking trails.
Located near the Giant Forest, Crystal Cave is a marble cavern formation that’s fun to explore, especially with children that have a great sense of adventure. The cave is accessible only on a guided tour, which you should book tickets for ahead of time.
Inside, you can get a close-up look at the cave’s fragile marble formations during a 45 minute tour with a knowledgeable local guide.
The Generals Highway is a 32.5 mile (52.3km) long road that connects Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It is a windy, steep, and beautiful road that offers exceptional views of the High Sierra.
If you love scenic drives, the Generals Highway is a great option, particularly during September as the leaves start to change. Keep in mind that the road is difficult to drive, especially in larger vehicles.
The park doesn’t recommend the Generals Highway for vehicles over 22 feet (6.7m) long, so plan ahead if you want to drive this famous road.
Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.