National Parks and National Forests

A sign set in a stone base at a scenic overlook
The Kings Canyon overlook gives a view of the neighboring Sequoia National Forest.

NPS Photo

As you travel in and around Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, you're likely to drive through lands that are managed by different agencies. It may be difficult to know whether you're in a national park or in a national forest.

Rules and regulations in our neighboring national forests are different from the regulations you'll find at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Closures due to wildfires and COVID-19 are also usually different in each area.

Neighboring National Forests

Whether you arrive in the parks from the west or east side of the Sierra Nevada range, you may pass through federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. These national forests offer unique recreational opportunities and have different regulations that will influence your visit. People looking to hit the trails with pets, bicycles, or Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs), will find that U.S. Forest Service lands may better fit their needs.

Three national forests surround Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument

Generals Highway and Highway 180 (including the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway) both wind in and out of Sequoia National Forest. It can be difficult to know where you are, so use your map and watch for signs along the route!

As you drive on Generals Highway between the Lodgepole area in Sequoia National Park and Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park, you will pass by several popular areas within the national forest. Here, you will find access to campgrounds, dispersed camping, Stony Creek Lodge, Buck Rock Lookout, the Big Meadows area, Jennie Lakes Wilderness, and Montecito Sequoia Lodge.

If you travel along Highway 180/Kings Canyon Scenic Byway from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove (both in Kings Canyon National Park), you will find more national forest destinations along the way. Popular sites include McGee Overlook, Chicago Stump/Converse Basin, Boole Tree area, the Hume Lake area, Yucca Point Trail, Boyden Cavern, Grizzly Falls, Stump Meadow, and Indian Basin. Fishing in the Kings River is also popular.

Inyo National Forest

Inyo National Forest is located along the eastern boundary of the park and where most intrepid hikers begin their 22-mile trek to Mount Whitney. Other high Sierra peaks can be reached from the east side of the Sierra Nevada range. To get here, travel by car along Highway 395. There is no east-west road that crosses the Sierra Range through the parks, so if you intend to visit both the east and west sides of our parks plan on at least two days of travel.

Sierra National Forest

Sierra National Forest is on the northwest boundary of Kings Canyon National Park. While you won’t be able to reach this forest from the park by car, backpackers can reach nearby forest destinations such as Monarch Lakes, Dinkey Lakes and the John Muir Wilderness. Hikers wishing to access the Sierra National Forest from the parks can begin on the trails permitted by the Road’s End Permit Station in Cedar Grove. Popular destinations include Crown Valley, Wishon Reservoir, Courtright Reservoir, Humphreys Basin and Florence Lake.

Differences in Regulations

If you visit land managed by our parks and the neighboring land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, it is important to note some basic differences in regulations.


In Our Parks

In National Forests


Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips in the parks.

Backpacking permits required in some forests:
Inyo National Forest
Sierra National Forest


Pets are not allowed on trails. They are allowed in parking lots, paved roads, picnic areas, and campgrounds. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet (1.8 m). For detailed information, visit our Pets page.

Pets are allowed in developed areas and on trails. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet (1.8 m).

Don't leave pets unattended in cars, especially during warm weather.

Collecting Inedible Natural Objects (e.g., wildflowers, pine cones, rocks, bones, antlers)

Collecting objects is not allowed in the parks. Leave everything to play its natural role in the ecosystem.

Collecting small amounts of forest products for personal use is allowed. However, products collected cannot be sold and collecting must be done in a responsible manner. Larger collections (e.g., landscaping) would require a permit-contact the nearest Forest Service office.

Collecting Edible Plants

You may collect berries, mushrooms, and a couple other plants for immediate consumption. Please visit the parks’ Compendium for specific rules.

Gathering edible plants for personal consumption is allowed. If you wish to collect larger quantities, it requires a permit. Please contact the nearest Forest Service office for guidance.

Collecting or Cutting Wood

Dead wood on the ground may be collected for use as fuel for campfires within the parks in all areas except sequoia groves and where fires are prohibited.

Wood cutting is prohibited.

Dead wood for campfires can be collected without a permit. Wood collection permits for home use are also available. Please contact the nearest Forest Service office for guidance.

Learn why bringing firewood in from far away is not advised: Firewood Task Force


Campfires are only allowed in fire rings or grills in campgrounds and some picnic areas. Always check fire restrictions before you start a fire.

Wilderness campfires may be allowed under a wilderness permit for backpackers/stock users elevation restrictions and certain area restrictions exist. See the Minimum Impact Regulations

Free fire permits are required outside picnic area grills and developed campgrounds, even for gas stoves and lanterns. For California forests, get your permit online. When offices are open, get a permit at Hume Lake office in Dunlap or the Kings Canyon Visitor Center.


Permitted during the season; a California fishing license is required for ages 16 and up. Check park fishing regulations for exceptions to state regulations.

Check with the local Forest Service office for forest-specific regulations.


Hunting is not permitted in our parks.

While hunting is permitted, please hunt responsibly and obtain necessary licenses.

Riding Bicycles or

Keep bikes on roads only, not on any trail. Please visit the parks’ Compendium to learn where E-bike are permitted.

Ask a ranger which trails permit bicycles.

Be careful and courteous near pedestrians and horses. People under 18 must wear a helmet.

Flying Drones And Other Unmanned Aircraft

For the safety of others and aircraft, drones and other unmanned aircraft are not permitted in national parks.

You may fly a drone on forest lands with some exceptions. Drones are not allowed in Designated Wilderness and can’t be flown when Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR’s) are in place. You must follow all FAA regulations. Visit Drone Tips for more information.


Camp only in numbered sites in designated campgrounds. All overnight wilderness camping requires a wilderness permit.

In campgrounds or, unless posted otherwise, near roadsides. Pull safely off the road and no further.


Activities That Are Not Permitted In Parks Or Forests

Carrying/Using Marijuana

While California law allows for limited possession and use, it remains illegal under federal law. Since national park and national forests are under federal jurisdiction, the use and transport of marijuana is prohibited.

Feeding Wildlife

Never feed wildlife in parks or forests. Animals become unnaturally dependent on human foods, can damage property, and even injure people. With bears, once they learn to seek human foods, they are far more likely to get hit by cars and sometimes park and forest officials have to euthanize them to keep people safe.

Carrying Bear Spray

While bear spray may be allowed in other western national parks and forests, it is not permitted in Sequoia and Kings Canyon and neighboring forests.

Collecting Cultural Items (arrowheads, pottery shards, etc.)

Archeological sites and artifacts are protected by law. Never pick up artifacts such as pottery shards, obsidian, shells, beads, or arrowheads on any public lands. Please report your finding and location to the nearest ranger.

Driving Off-Road

Not in either area. Stay on roads.

Last updated: April 13, 2024

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47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


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