• Giant Sequoia Trees

    Sequoia & Kings Canyon

    National Parks California

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  • The Generals Highway "Road Between the Parks" is OPEN

    The section of road between Lodgepole (Sequoia) and Grant Grove (Kings Canyon) is open. Call 559-565-3341 (press 1, 1) for 24-hour road updates.

  • Be Prepared! Tire Chains or Cables May Be Required in the Parks at Any Time

    All vehicles must carry chains or cables when entering a chain-restricted area. It's the law (CA Vehicle Code, Section 605, Sections 27450-27503). Road conditions may change often. For road conditions, call 559-565-3341 (press 1, 1). More »

  • You May Have Trouble Calling Us

    We are experiencing technical problems receiving incoming phone calls. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please send us an email to SEKI_Interpretation@nps.gov or check the "More" link for trip-planning information. More »

  • Vehicle Length Limits in Sequoia National Park (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 vehicle length advisories for your safety and the safety of others. More »

Water Resources Overview

Station for collecting weather data

Weather data collected in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contribute to the information parks use to determine snowpack and water availability.

NPS Photo

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain some 3200 lakes and ponds and approximately 2600 miles of rivers and streams. Three major rivers originate in these parks --Kings, Kaweah and Kern. These rivers provide valuable irrigation water to the rich agricultural lands in Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties as well as providing water for recreation and industrial activities outside the parks. The monitoring and maintenance of watershed health is clearly of interest not only to park managers but also to water users throughout this region.

Winter snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is a natural storage system for the precipitation that accumulates during winter months. The amount of water stored as snowpack increases through mid-April at higher elevations. Meltoff typically begins in April and continues through May or June. October is the month in which the least water runoff occurs from park watersheds. Snowfields, forests, lakes and streams collect, store, and release the water supplied from winter storms so it is available throughout the dry summers for agriculture, recreation, electrical power generation and other uses. The amount of snowpack is also important to park vegetation and wildlife. In years of low snowpack accumulation, there is less water available for plant growth (for example, many trees will produce a small annual ring in years of drought). During these drought years, reduced plant growth and fruit and seed production result in altered food production for wildlife.

 
Scientists gather water samples at Emerald Lake

Park employees collect water samples as part of an interdisciplinary study at Emerald Lake in Sequoia National Park.

NPS Photo

Water determines the distribution and abundance of many plants and animals throughout the Sierra Nevada by shaping and providing habitat. Lakes and streams support rich communities of native organisms both in the water and in adjoining riparian areas. Water is also a powerful attractant to human visitors to these parks, as is evident from the popularity of rivers, streams and lakes as destinations for picnickers, hikers, campers and anglers. Introduced (non-native) animals, human use of rivers and lakes, runoff and effluent from park developed areas and ecosystem-level, human-caused changes have had negative impacts on SEKI water resources. Park research, inventory and monitoring are critical in identifying changes in water quality and quantity and declines in native plant and animal populations that can result from human-caused impacts to aquatic systems.

Did You Know?

Sharp, rocky crest of the Sierra Nevada.

The Sierra Nevada is still growing today. The mountains gain height during earthquakes on the east side of the range. But the mountains are being shortened by erosion almost as quickly as they grow. This erosion has deposited sediments thousands of feet thick on the floor of the San Joaquin Valley.