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 »
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 »
Things to Know Before You Come
Please read important park alerts by clicking the red tab above before you come to the parks.
Some of the opening/closing dates for facilities and visitor services in the parks may change due to weather and/or other circumstances. Please call 559-565-3341 BEFORE you plan to visit.
Improve Your Visit - Take a moment to click on the topics below:
At the top of every page - check warnings about road construction delays, closures, vehicle length advisories, on-going chain control restrictions (during and after storms), or other important messages you need to know before you leave home.
Park Newspaper - Start Here!
Published five times a year, most of your questions will be answered here, including information about: important phone numbers, opening/closing dates, camping, lodging, dining, shopping, showers, activities, attractions, front-country hiking trails, wilderness permits, food storage, safety, road construction delays, where to find gasoline, vehicle length advisories, shuttle service, a park map, and more.
Park News in 2013
For links to all public information released in 2013 to date, including: Seasonal opening/closing dates, road construction schedules and delays, vehicle length advisories, ranger-led programs, fee-free dates, wildland and prescribed fire info, volunteer opportunities, shuttle service, public comments about management options, and more.
Check our area forecasts just before leaving home. Bring the proper clothing, hiking, or camping gear for the area, elevation, and season of your visit.
Shuttle Service - Sequoia National Park
Go Underground and Discover Crystal Cave
Five Scenic Landscapes Await You
Learn about the parks' five different front-country areas, and the highlights of each.
Protect Wildlife - Use Food Storage Boxes
These parks are home to several hundred back bears (but no grizzly bears) as well as mountain lions and many other kinds of wildlife. Stay safe and help keep bears and all wildlife wild - store your food properly, don't feed them, keep a safe distance, and pick up all trash.
Learn where you can go and what's available in the parks.
Know the rules for pets in the parks, and in the surrounding national forests - they're different in each.
Ranger-led Activities - Free!
Ranger-led programs are posted on multiple pages of our website, up to two weeks in advance. During your visit check for scheduled activities posted in each area on visitor center and campground bulletin boards.
Playing it Safe in the Parks
Your safety is your responsibility. Learn about the unfamiliar hazards you may encounter in natural areas. Cell phones and GPS generally don't work in the parks. Designate a contact person at home to communicate through. It's best to use printed maps of the parks for the most reliable driving directions.
Gasoline and Emergency Automobile Services
There are no gas stations or repair shops inside the park boundaries. For closest locations
Campfires, Wildfires, and Prescribed Fires
Fire restrictions begin when fire danger increases - including limits on campfires, barbeques and smoking.
Natural fires and prescribed burns are critical to the park ecosystems you have come to visit.
National Parks vs National Forests?
Since you go in and out of these agency lands when visiting this area, it's important to know which is which.
Weapons and Firearms in the Parks
Weapons (including, but not limited to, BB, Pellet and Paint Guns, Bow/Arrow, Slingshots, Bear Spray and other compressed gas irritant devices) are illegal to possess.
Gigantic landscapes, long distances
Extreme elevation range, steep curvy roads, variable weather
Giant Forest Webcam
Land shaped by fire
Why use fire? It is a natural part of these landscapes. Plants and animals here have adapted to it. Some actually need periodic fire for survival. Sequoias, for example, have adaptations to survive fire, and have trouble reproducing without it. Flames clear and fertilize the ground under the big trees, leaving the kind of soil in which their seeds germinate best. Not coincidentally, fire also opens sequoia cones, so that seeds rain down on this excellent seedbed. In addition, fires remove ground vegetation and forest litter that compete with the seedlings for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight.
Throughout the parks, complete fire suppression would harm the parks' natural character and increase the threat of catastrophic wildfires. Therefore, the park uses natural fires as well as prescribed burns to maintain these ecosystems.
Recognize the different kinds of land in these mountains and the rules that govern each.
Driving you will see signs for national parks, national forests, and national monuments. What is the difference?
All are federal land. All exist for the benefit of society. But each has a different history, purpose, and set of rules. Together they provide for a wide spectrum of uses.
National parks strive to keep landscapes unimpaired for future generations. They protect natural and historic features while offering light-on-the-land recreation. Park rangers work for the National Park Service-part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
National forests, managed under a "multiple-use" concept, provide services and commodities that may include lumber, cattle grazing, minerals, and recreation with and without vehicles. Forest rangers work for the U.S. Forest Service, an agency in the Department of Agriculture.
Both agencies manage wilderness and other areas where they strive for maximum protection of natural resources. For example, part of Sequoia National Forest has been designated Giant Sequoia National Monument to emphasize protection of sequoias.
Parks, forests, and monuments may have different rules in order to achieve their goals.
Did You Know?
After spending five days with five men cutting down a single sequoia, Walter Fry counted the growth rings on the fallen giant. The answer shocked him into changing careers. In just a few days they had ended 3266 years of growth. Fry later became a park ranger and, in 1912, the parks' superintendent.