|SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. November 25, 2020 – Thanksgiving brings a late-season busy holiday weekend in the parks, and trip planning is important for a safe and enjoyable visit. Visitors should anticipate that tire chain restrictions could go into effect at any time. As on any holiday weekend, expect longer waiting periods at entrance stations, and crowded conditions in popular parking areas. Visitors are encouraged to call 559-565-3341 (dial 1, then 1) for current road and weather conditions prior to driving up to the parks.
While the Generals Highway is currently open, and precipitation is not predicted at this time, good weather should not be relied upon. All visitors are advised to carry chains or cables when entering the parks during the winter months. In addition to chain restrictions, road closures could be instituted in response to winter weather.
For tire chain information including a helpful video on how to install them, and tips on winter driving in the parks, visit www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/winter_driving.htm.
The Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is currently open. The Mineral King Road, Highway 180 into Cedar Grove, and the Crystal Cave Road are closed for the winter.
Lines at entrance stations can be long during holiday weekends. To avoid long waiting periods, it is recommended to arrive prior to 9 am or after 2 pm, and have your method of payment ready when you arrive at the gate. Having snacks, water, tire chains, and a full tank of gas is also recommended. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their park pass online prior to visiting to save time at the entrance gate at www.recreation.gov/pass.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks have not been able to make free shuttles available for public use in 2020. Popular parking areas, such as those at the Giant Forest Museum, and both lots for the General Sherman Tree, will be crowded. Please anticipate delays and be patient.
Campgrounds, Lodging, and Services
Campsites are extremely limited in the winter season. The only campgrounds currently open in the parks are Potwisha Campground, in the foothills of Sequoia, in which all sites are reservation-only, and Azalea Campground, in the Grant Grove area, in which all sites are first-come, first-served.
Availability information for sites in Potwisha Campground can be found on Recreation.gov. In all campgrounds and picnic areas, all food, scented items and coolers need to be properly stored in bear boxes. Bears are particularly active in the Grant Grove area and around Potwisha Campground.
There will be no overnight lodging open in the parks during the holiday weekend. For additional information, visit www.visitsequoia.com.
The Lodgepole Market is closed for the winter season. The Grant Grove Market is open 9 am – 5 pm daily. This is the only place where food will be available for purchase within the parks, so visitors to the Sequoia side should plan to be self-sufficient in this regard. There is no gas available inside the parks.
Bears have been very active in and around the parks, day and night. It is crucial that visitors not approach bears of any size and store food properly. Bears can grab unattended food or easily break into cars that have food in them. Bears that have succeeded in getting human food sometimes become bold and aggressive in attempts to get more. All food or anything with a scent must be stored and out of sight, and trash must be disposed of in bear-resistant cans and dumpsters.
Tulare and Fresno Counties continue to be rated “purple” under the new guidance from California Governor Gavin Newsom, indicating that the virus is widespread in these counties. Visitors should understand that there is some risk of exposure to the virus associated with traveling to these areas at this time. Visitors are asked to wear masks in popular areas, socially distance, and be respectful of their fellow visitors and park employees.
The staff of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks wish you a fun and safe holiday weekend! For more trip planning information, please visit our website, www.nps.gov/seki.