The best time to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park is from June to August. This is when the Californian weather is generally sunny and warm. The average daytime highs are in the mid-70s, and nighttime lows are in the mid-40s, making it very pleasant for most campers and hikers.
There are still snow covers in the High Sierra until late spring or even early summer. So, visiting between June and August means that you’ll have the best chance of snow-free roads and trails.
Best time for good weather
The best time for good weather in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is summer, from June to August.
Average high temperatures in the sequoia groves during this time is about 74ºF (23.3ºC), which makes for a pleasant experience. However, the foothills can be very hot, with an average high temperature of about 94ºF (34.4ºC) and record highs that are well above 110ºF (43.3ºC).
Therefore, if you want to visit the foothills, the best time for good weather is late spring and early fall.
Best time for camping
The best time to camp in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is during the summer, particularly between June and August.
During this time, temperatures are comfortable in the sequoia groves, making camping a pleasant experience. There is generally minimal rain in the parks throughout the summer, though afternoon thunderstorms are always a possibility.
Keep in mind that the foothills campgrounds in Sequoia and Kings Canyon are quite hot during the summer, so it’s best to camp at higher elevations during this time.
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Best time to avoid crowds
The best time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to avoid the crowds is during the winter.
Substantially fewer people visit the parks between the months of December and April, compared to the summer months. As a result, you can enjoy a serene experience in Sequoia and Kings Canyon without the crowds.
That being said, the winter in the Sierra brings heavy snow, which can blanket the roads and make driving difficult. Be sure to pack tire chains for any winter visit to the parks as they may be required at any time.
Best time for scenic drives
The best time for scenic drives in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is in the late summer month of August and the early fall month of September.
By this point, every road in the park should be snow-free and passable, allowing you to drive throughout the region with relative ease. However, if you want to see bears and other wildlife during the drive, the late spring month of May is often your best bet.
Best time for wildlife watching
The best time for wildlife watching in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is early in the morning in the late spring and early summer.
For a good chance of seeing birds, you should plan to be up around dawn, particularly in the summer when busy trails can scare birds away. In the late spring and early summer, hungry bears tend to be quite active in the park as they look for food.
Alpine meadows and the edges of forests tend to be especially good places to sight wildlife in the park during the early morning hours from May to June.
Best time for rock climbing
The best time for rock climbing in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is late summer and early fall, between August and September.
These months bring cooler temperatures and fewer crowds than at the height of summer. Additionally, there are often closures on popular crags, like Moro Rock, during the early spring and summer for nesting peregrine falcons, which are normally lifted by mid-August.
Keep in mind that many of the world-class climbs in the parks are located deep in mountains where snow can fall at any time of year. Early summer can bring unpassable high water while late fall can have unexpectedly large snowfall, so plan your trip wisely based on the weather conditions.
Best time for horseback riding
The best time for horseback riding in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is during the summer months of July to August.
July to August provides the best conditions in the alpine sections of the park, allowing for an exceptional backcountry riding experience. There are 2 commercial horseback riding stables in the park that offer guided rides during the summer, though reservations are highly recommended.
If you plan to bring your own horse or stock into the park or you want to join a guided horsepacking trip, the summer months provide the best conditions for you and your four-legged friends.
Best time to climb Moro Rock
The best time to climb Moro Rock is during June or July when the trail to the summit is snow and ice-free.
Since Moro Rock is so popular, it’s best to start your hike very early in the day to avoid the crowds. The summit is also a nice place to take in the sunrise, which can make for an unforgettable experience on a partially cloudy morning – just don’t forget to pack your coffee maker and thermos so you can enjoy a cup o’ joe at the summit!
If you’re interested in a sunset hike, the aptly named Sunset Rock is just a short distance away and offers better views of the setting sun to the west.
Best time for skiing and snowshoeing
The best time for skiing and snowshoeing in Sequoia and Kings Canyon is the winter, particularly from January to February.
During this time, the park rangers usually offer free 1 to 2 hour long guided snowshoe trips, which are open to any visitor over the age of 10. There are also plenty of great ski trails within Giant Forest and Grant Grove to enjoy.
Moreover, overnight backcountry ski trips are particularly popular in the mountains. Wilderness permits are required for these trips. Additionally, anyone looking to stay at the Pear Lake Winter Hut near Wolverton Meadow during their ski tour needs to make a reservation well in advance.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Seasons
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are open for visitors every day of the year, but each season in the parks allows for a unique experience.
This is what you can expect when you visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon during a given season.
The summer months of June to August are by and large the most popular time of year to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon. This is because it offers the nicest weather conditions and the best chance for snow-free roads.
It’s important to note that while summer temperatures in the sequoia groves and the High Sierra are comfortable and enjoyable, it can be very, very hot in the foothills, especially at campgrounds like Potwisha Campground and Buckeye Flat Campground.
This hot weather increases the likelihood of forest fires, which tend to become more and more abundant by late summer. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the local fire and smoke conditions before departing for your trip.
Additionally, since the summer months are so popular in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, reservations at reservable campsites are a must. If you’re opting for a first-come, first-served campsite, be sure to arrive early in the morning (by 9 or 10am) to claim your spot.
Read More : What Should I Pack for Summer Camping?
Fall in Sequoia and Kings Canyon starts around mid-September when nighttime temperatures tend to cool quickly. Hot, sunny days in the High Sierra can be followed by a storm, and light snow starts to fall around October.
If you’re looking to beat some of the crowds or venture into the backcountry, early fall is a great time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Although many facilities in the park close or reduce their hours, including the Mineral King and Cedar Grove areas, much of the park is still open and accessible before the first major snowfall.
Be mindful that early fall is the prime wildfire season in the Sierra Nevada. The park can close at any time due to poor air quality or dangerous conditions, so pay attention to the weather and fire conditions before and during your trip.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks become a peaceful wonderland during the winter months of late November to early April. Snowfall turns sequoia groves into a truly magical place in the winter, though temperatures are cold and the weather is unpredictable.
If you do want to venture into the park during the winter, pack tire chains and know how to use them, as they are often required on park roads. There are quite a few year-round campgrounds in the foothills that are often snow-free in the winter for you to enjoy.
Read More : What Should I Pack for Winter Camps?
The start and end of the spring season in Sequoia and Kings Canyon depends greatly on elevation. At the lowest elevations, spring can start as early as April while spring snowmelt can continue in the high mountains until mid-June.
By May or June, most of the sequoia groves are snow-free, but late spring storms are always possible, so pack your tire chains.
The spring months are a particularly good time to check out the wildflowers in some of the parks’ meadows or to check out the waterfalls, like Tokopah Falls and Mist Falls, which flow at their highest capacity during this time.
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.