Sequoia and Kings Canyon adjoin each other and are managed as one national park. They contain five unique areas: 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 areas 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.
Check our park maps for the locations of each of these areas.
The Giant Forest and Lodgepole
Giant sequoia groves grow only on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, and the Giant Forest may be one of the finest. It's home to the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest living tree. Hiking trails wind through the sequoia grove and meadows. Moro Rock / Crescent Meadow Road leads to features such as Moro Rock, Tunnel Log, and the High Sierra Trail. The Big Trees Trail that circles a meadow offers an easy hike that's ideal for families and people in wheelchairs. Giant Forest Museum is open year-round an offers exhibits, park information, and a park store.
On the main park highway from the Sequoia park entrance to the Giant Forest, there are vehicle-length advisories in place beyond Potwisha Campground (vehicles longer than 24 feet) and Hospital Rock Picnic Area (vehicles longer than 22 feet). If your vehicle is longer than 22 feet and you plan to drive to sequoia groves, using the park entrance on Highway 180 will help you avoid the twisting, curvy roads in the advisory area.
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). The Grant Tree Trail leads to the General Grant Tree, the second-largest tree in the world. The accessible Panoramic Point Trail leads to a viewpoint with stunning vistas of wilderness (open only when roads are not snowy).
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. Big Stump and Columbine picnic areas become snowplay areas in winter.
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 wilderness trails originate in the area, especially near Roads End.
Highway 180 to Cedar Grove is generally open May through October. In 2019, the road will open on April 26, weather permitting and will close on November 11 at noon. At 4,600 feet (1,410 m) in elevation, expect warm days and cool nights. At a lower elevation than the sequoia groves, Cedar Grove is warmer in summer.
Hiking trails range from gentle walks along the floor of the canyon or steeper ascents of the canyon's rims. Features within easy day-hiking distance include Knapps's Cabin, Canyon View Lookout, Roaring River Falls, Zumwalt Meadow, and Road's End Permit Station.
A steep, winding road leads to a place of rugged beauty: Mineral King Valley. At 7800 feet (2375 m), it's the highest place you can go in these parks by vehicle. The Mineral King subalpine valley consists of both dense forests of pine, sequoia, and fir and colorful granite and shale landscapes.
Mineral King Trails are an excellent way to explore the area, with options that range from the one-mile Cold Springs Nature Loop to wilderness trails that traverse the eastern areas of Sequoia National Park. At Mineral King Ranger Station, get information, trail recommendations, maps, local wilderness permits, first aid, and bear canisters. Wilderness permits are available on the porch of the station when it is closed.
Mineral King is accessed by a 25 mile, steep, winding road open late May through October, weather permitting. RVs and trailers are not recommended. Be prepared; there is no gasoline or electricity in this remote area. 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 seasonal campgrounds are for tent camping only. In 2019, the Mineral King road and campgrounds open May 22 (campgrounds open at noon).
Silver City Mountain Resort has lodging that includes chalets and rustic cabins, a small market with limited supplies, showers, and restaurant that is popular for its selection of pie. There is no ice or gasoline. It's on Mineral King road, 3 miles west of the ranger station.
Marmots are active here and precautions are recommended to protect your vehicle from damage, especially in spring and early summer.
Just inside the entrance to Sequoia National Park is a diverse landscape ruled by the seasons. In winter and spring, rain awakens plants and wildflowers, creating a hiker's paradise of green hills and moderate temperatures. In summer, hot and dry conditions dominate. Hiking trails here follow the Kaweah River and its tributaries.
Stop by Foothills Visitor Center one mile from the park entrance, or camp in one of the two foothills campgrounds to get a closer look. There are picnic areas at Foothills Visitor Center and at Hospital Rock, which also has outdoor exhibits.
If you plan to drive from the Foothills to the Giant Forest, be aware that vehicles over 22 feet long are prohibited along this winding and narrow stretch of the Generals Highway. Longer vehicles should use the Kings Canyon National Park entrance on Highway 180.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon's Wilderness
Over 95% of these parks is designated as wilderness. Here you can climb the highest peaks and see some of the most rugged country in our national parks. Not all wilderness hikes are challenging; gentle trails lead into wilderness areas, too. Before you hike, check information about trail safety. Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips.