Frequently Asked Questions

Activities in national parks
What is there to do in the parks?
When you visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (NPS), you will probably pass through – and perhaps stop – in neighboring National Forest (USFS). Though similar in some ways, these areas have some different goals, so there are some differing rules. Some activities may be illegal in the Park but legal in the Forest. Check this list out for starters, and call the park (559-565-3341) if you have questions:
Where can I:
In National Parks: Not on trails but it’s ok in developed areas ( picnic areas, campgrounds, roads).
In National Forest: Pets can go on trails. In both areas: Pets must be on a leash less than 6 feet (1.8m) long. Don’t leave pets in hot cars.

Not in either area! Animals become unnaturally dependent. Some can be dangerous and may have to be killed. Some can carry disease. Roadside beggars get hit by cars.

In National Parks: Only in numbered sites in designated campgrounds.
In National Forest: In campgrounds or, unless posted otherwise, near roadsides. Pull safely off the road & no further.

In National Parks: Only in fire grills in campgrounds & some picnic areas.
In National Forest: Fire permits are required outside picnic area grills & campgrounds. Get one at Grant Grove Visitor Center or the USFS office in Dunlap on Hwy 180.

Not in National Parks: Leave everything to play its natural role in the ecosystem.
In National Forest: Gathering a few cones or rocks for personal use is permitted. In both areas: Archeological sites & artifacts are protected by law.

Not in either area. Stay on roads.

Not in the National Parks.
In National Forest: Call Hume Lake Ranger District for permit & guidelines: 559-338-2251.

In both areas: Permitted during the season; a California fishing license is required for ages 16 & up. Get copies of park-specific regulations at any visitor center.

Not in the National Parks.
In National Forest: Only on designated snowmobile routes. Snowmobile trailheads are at Big Meadows, Quail Flat & Cherry Gap.

Look for picnic symbols on the map you get when you enter the park, or click here to find a Maps link. Never leave food unattended!
Most sites have tables, restrooms & fire grills, except: No fire grills at Foothills & Sandy Cove. No fires permitted at Lodgepole & Crescent Meadow. No water at Grizzly Falls, Halstead, & Powdercan.

In National Parks: Keep bikes on roads only, not on any trail.
In National Forest: Ask a ranger which trails permit bicycles. In both areas: Be careful & courteous near pedestrians & horses. People under 18 must wear a helmet.


Will I see bears in the parks?

Although the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) is on the California flag, grizzly bears no longer live in California. Many black bears (Ursus americanus) live here, though. Black bears are more shy and less aggressive than brown bears (grizzlies). But all bears can become a danger—especially if they are allowed to obtain human food or garbage. Due to this, you are required to store your food properly at all times and pick up all trash. You will help keep our bears safe and wild. more...

What is special about the caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon?

The caves in these national parks formed in marble, which is metamorphosed limestone. Most caves, such as Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, are limestone caves. So far, over 200 caves have been discovered in the parks. Some contain creatures found nowhere else on earth. It is said that, even if there were no sequoia trees here, these parks would be a national treasure based on the caves.

Mt. Whitney
From where in the parks can I see Mt. Whitney?

Actually, you cannot see Mt. Whitney at all from park roads, which are all on the west side of the park. The Sierra Nevada mountains have an unusual double crest running north-south at the southern end of the range. Since Mt. Whitney is on the eastern crest, the peaks of the Great Western Divide block views of the eastern crest from the west side of the park. Mt. Whitney is most easily seen from the Owens Valley, east of the parks.

If you're willing to climb to the top of Alta Peak (11,200 feet high; a strenuous but exhilarating day-long hike from Wolverton or Giant Forest), you can see the top of Mt. Whitney over the Great Western Divide (weather permitting).

Park Planning
Where can I learn about the General Management Plan for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks?

The Record of Decision for the "General Management Plan (GMP) & Comprehensive River Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)" was finalized at the end of 2007. To review the entire GMP, other park plans, and the planning process, click here.

Are sequoia trees really the largest living things on earth?

It depends on how you define largest living thing. Some claim that an aspen grove covering more than 100 acres in Utah holds that title because the trees all appear to share the same root system – they are genetically the same. Others argue that these trees are a colony of clones rather a single organism. If you restrict your definition to single-trunked trees, then the General Sherman sequoia tree in Giant Forest holds the title as the largest living specimen on earth. more...

Where is the famous "tree you can drive through?"

The famous tunneled sequoia tree was not in these parks, but rather 100 air-miles north in the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite National Park. Visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon can drive through Sequoia Park's "Tunnel Log," a sequoia that fell across the Crescent Meadow Road in Giant Forest and was tunneled through. more...

Since the mission of the parks is to protect sequoias, why would the parks deliberately set fires in sequoia groves?

For its first seven decades, the parks tried to put out every fire in the sequoia groves. But during those seventy years, the parks learned something startling. Sequoias are well-adapted to natural fire. In fact, they need fire to reproduce. Periodic fires help to create an ideal habitat for young sequoias to grow by removing competing trees and duff, leaving a bare mineral soil for sequoias to grow. Learn more about fire in the parks...

Who oversees Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?

Superintendent Woody Smeck is in charge of both parks. He, and all park employees, work for the National Park Service, which is in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Supporting the park
How can I help the parks?

There are quite a few ways to lend a hand, in person or financially. more...

Working for the park
How can I get a job in the parks?

A variety of permanent and seasonal jobs are available in these and other national parks. To learn about them, click more...

Wilderness in the parks
What do I need to do if I want to take an overnight in the wilderness?

You'll need a permit and some good information. Click to learn more.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


(559) 565-3341
Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. Park staff answers calls on weekdays from 8:15 am - 4:15 pm.

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