Changes to Some Opening/Closing Dates for Services and Facilities – Check Back for Updates
Some of the opening/closing dates for facilities and visitor services in the parks have changed due to weather and/or other circumstances. See link for details and match to locations on the park map (under "Park Tools," bottom left, this page). More »
Road Conditions (Entire Park) and Road Construction Delays (if Entering/Exiting Hwy. 198)
Expect 20-minute to 1-hour construction delays on main road through parks (Generals Hwy) until Memorial Day weekend (7 a.m.-6 p.m.). See link for schedule. Call for 24-hour road conditions info: 559-565-3341 (press 1, 1, 1). More »
Vehicle Length Limits Have Changed in Sequoia NP (if Entering/Exiting Hwy 198)
Planning to see the "Big Trees" in Sequoia National Park? If you enter/exit via Hwy. 198, please pay close attention to new vehicle length advisories for your safety and the safety of others. More »
You May Have Trouble Calling Us. Use the "Contact Us" Link (Bottom Left) to Send an E-mail.
We are experiencing technical problems receiving some incoming phone calls at the parks. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please keep trying to reach us or check this website for frequently-asked questions. The search box (top, right) may be helpful.
Cave / Karst Systems
ATTENTION! White Nose Syndrome Affecting Bats (Download Poster PDF)
By some accounts Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks could have been set aside solely to protect the amazing caves found in this area of the Southern Sierra Nevada. The two parks protect half of the caves more than a mile long in California, the longest cave in the state, numerous karst streams and some of the best alpine karst topography in the United States. The caves contain Pleistocene era fossils, rare minerals and unique animals. They are the sites of numerous scientific research projects and provide recreational opportunities to thousands of park visitors each year.
Photo by Dick LaForge
Efforts to protect and manage this resource are nearly as old as the parks themselves. The parks' first superintendent, Walter Fry, gave detailed descriptions of five of the caves in his 1918 annual report. Crystal Cave has been one of the parks' primary visitor attractions since 1941. In the 1970s, the Cave Research Foundation documented more than 80 caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon. However, it was the discovery of Hurricane Crawl Cave in 1986 that encouraged the parks to begin an active cave management program. This effort resulted in the employment of a "cave specialist" in 1992 and the completion of a Cave Management Plan in 1994. A revision of the first overall Cave Management Plan was also completed in 1999. Specific management plans have also been created for Soldiers, Crystal and Hurricane Crawl caves. These plans combine management strategies in a single cave. Some passages are open to visitation, some sections have visit restrictions and other passages are completely closed to protect delicate cave features.
Another important area of work in park caves is restoration. While restoration in a national park seems surprising, past visitors and employees in the parks have made reversible mistakes that damaged and altered caves. In some cases, caves can restore themselves through natural processes that remove or cover dirt, graffiti, paint and soot. This process is happening right now in Clough and Crystal caves. Crystal Cave has also seen restoration projects that removed tons of blast rubble dumped into the cave during trail construction in the 1930s. Work in the cave has removed damaging lint and dirt from formerly pristine walls. In 1998 a workroom built into the cave was partially restored in the hope that this would provide more habitat for Pimoa spiders that live only near the cave's four entrances. Cave enthusiasts first explored Soldiers Cave in 1949 and 1950. Since then it has remained a popular cave with recreational cavers. Unfortunately the cave combines muddy areas with passages that have beautiful white walls and delicate formations. Through the 50 years that the cave has been open for caving trips, hundreds of square feet of the cave's walls were muddied and damaged. In 1994 and 1995 water from a nearby surface stream was diverted for a few days through hoses that led into the cave's damaged passages. This water was used to clean these surfaces and restore the cave to its original appearance and character.
Did You Know?
The yellow star thistle is one of many invasive and damaging non-native plants threatening the parks. It quickly takes over areas, displacing native plants and the native animals that rely on them. Please avoid bringing seeds and non-native plant materials into the parks. More...