Sequoia and Kings Canyon adjoin each other and are managed as one national park. Together, they contain five unique regions: Foothills, Mineral King, Giant Forest / Lodgepole, Grant Grove, and Cedar Grove. Each area has its own climate, features, and highlights. Grant Grove and Giant Forest are the home of the largest sequoia groves. The Mineral King and Cedar Grove regions are open only in spring through fall, while Grant Grove, Giant Forest, and Lodgepole offer both summer and winter activities. The Foothills area is at a lower elevation and is usually snow free year-round.
The Foothills consist of the lower elevations of Sequoia National Park, including the South Fork area located east of Three Rivers. Oaks, chaparral, and river canyons are plentiful here in an area with more biological diversity (different kinds of plants and animals) than the conifer forests and High Sierra combined.
Winters are relatively snow-free; abundant wildflowers bloom in spring and summer. Ranging from 500 to 3,500 feet (457-1067 m) in elevation, the foothills are characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
Potwisha Campground and Buckeye Flat Campground are in the foothills. There are picnic areas at Foothills Visitor Center and Hospital Rock. In winter and spring, hiking in the foothills is a great way to experience the park if you don't want to drive in the snow at higher elevations.
Giant Forest and Lodgepole
The Giant Forest Sequoia Grove is home to many of the world's biggest trees. Forty miles of trails invite you to experience sequoia groves, including the paved and wheelchair-accessible Big Trees Trail. At 6,400 feet (1950 m) elevation, this area is characterized by warm days and cool nights in summer, with cold days and deep snow in winter.
The Grant Grove area was originally General Grant National Park, created in 1890 to protect giant sequoias from logging. Dayhiking opportunities in Grant Grove include trails through a pristine sequoia grove (the General Grant Grove) and one that was logged in the 1880s (the Big Stump Grove). At 6,600 feet (2,008 m) in elevation, this area is characterized by warm days and cool nights in summer, with deep snow and cold temperatures in winter.
Azalea Campground is open year-round. Crystal Springs and Sunset campgrounds are open from spring through fall. Big Stump and Columbine picnic areas become snowplay areas in winter. There's also picnicking at the Panoramic Point trailhead.
This glaciated valley features towering cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, and the powerful Kings River, whose canyon gave the park its name. Two prominent rock formations, North Dome at 8,717 feet and Grand Sentinel at 8,518 feet, rise 3,500 feet above the canyon floor. Many spectacular trails to the backcountry also originate in the area, especially near Roads End. Highway 180 to Cedar Grove is open May through October, weather permitting. At 4,600 feet (1,410 m) in elevation, expect warm days and cool nights.
There are four campgrounds in Cedar Grove: Sheep Creek, Sentinel, Canyon View, and Moraine. If you'd like to picnic, look for tables at Grizzly Falls (in the nearby national forest), Cedar Grove Village, and Zumwalt Meadow.
The Mineral King subalpine valley consists of both dense forests of pine, sequoia, and fir and colorful granite and shale landscapes. Mineral King offers 11 steep alpine trails which traverse the eastern areas of Sequoia National Park. Mineral King is accessed by a 25 mile, steep, winding road open late May through October, weather permitting. RVs and trailers are not recommended. This area, at 7,500 to 14,000 feet elevation, is characterized by warm days and chilly nights in summer. In spring and fall, be prepared for freezing temperatures and the possibility of snow.
Two campgrounds in Mineral King are more primitive and secluded than others in these parks. Cold Springs Campground is in Mineral King Valley near the ranger station. Atwell Mill Campground is on the road into Mineral King Valley in a once-logged sequoia grove. If you'd like to picnic, there are tables across from Mineral King Ranger Station.
MapsMany of our park maps show the locations of these park regions. Choose from printable PDFs or customizable digital maps.
Driving DirectionsOnce you've chosen a park region to visit, check our driving directions for informtion on how to get there.
For more information about park features, look at our suggestions for things to do to help plan your trip.