Climate at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The elevation at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National parks ranges from 1,500 feet to 14,494 feet. The park’s climate can be divided into three general zones: low elevation foothills, mid-elevation montane forests, and high elevation alpine mountains. Each zone hosts a unique ecosystem adapted to its respective climate.


Elevational zones of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Dakota Mork

Foothills of Sequoia National Park

Foothills of Sequoia National Park

Christian Schroll

Low-Elevation Foothills – below ~4,500 feet

The foothills of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park are characterized by a Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Precipitation usually occurs from October to mid-May and rain during the summer is rare. Average rainfall in the foothills is about 26” a year.

Giant sequoias and mixed conifers in the Giant Forest

Giant sequoias and mixed conifers in the Giant Forest

Russell Doughty

Mid-Elevation Montane Forests: ~4,000 feet to ~9,000 feet

Coniferous forests dominate the middle elevations, which also harbor the giant sequoia groves. Similarly to the foothills, precipitation typically occurs October to mid-May. However, the mid-elevation montane forests receive more precipitation on average at about 45” annually. Due to the cooler temperatures, snow is common during the winter months.

Foxtail pine at tree line

Foxtail pine at tree line in Sequoia National Park

Dakota Mork

High Elevation Alpine Mountains: above ~9,000 feet

The tree line often occurs between 9,000 and 11,000 feet, and is marked by the highest elevation tree species such as whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and foxtail pine (P. balfouriana). Trees rarely grow above about 11,000 feet, where vegetation is limited to grasses and flowering herbaceous species. Snow is the most common form of precipitation at high elevations, and during cool years with ample snowfall, snowpack may last year-round.

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