The parks are beautiful in winter, but be prepared for snowy or icy mountain roads. Tire chains or cables are often required on park roads from fall through spring, but they might be needed at any time of the year if snow falls. During fall through spring, we recommend that you carry chains or cables in your car, regardless of conditions.
Tire Chains and Cables
When road conditions deteriorate, the parks will activate chain control zones on park roads. This can occur at any time, but is most common in November through March. State law requires ALL vehicles (including 4-wheel and all-wheel drive) to carry tire chains or cables when entering chain-control zones (CA Vehicle Code, Section 605, Sections 27450-27503). All vehicles must have chains or cables that fit properly and are in good repair. When you drive with chains, the maximum speed limit is 25 MPH, even if posted otherwise.
Chain Control Designations
All vehicles, including those with four-wheel and all-wheel drive, must carry chains or cables in chain control zones.
Putting on Chains
Watch our short Snow Chains and Cables video for information about when to use them. Signs along the road will indicate where you need to put them on when they are required; pull all the way off the road. Put them on the front tires of front-wheel-drive vehicles, and on the back tires of rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
Renting or Purchasing Tire Chains or Cables
Tire, auto parts, and other large stores often carry tire chains or cables. Consider purchasing chains before you arrive so you can practice installing them and ensure they are in working order. You may also choose to rent or purchase chains or cables from businesses near the parks. Rental prices for chains or cables typically range from $40-$65 per day, and purchases from $50-$200.
Businesses below are not endorsed by the National Park Service. This list may not include all area businesses and their services (rentals and/or sales) and prices are subject to change at any time. Please contact the businesses directly for more information.
Sequoia National Park entrance / Highway 198 / Three Rivers, California
Kings Canyon National Park entrance / Highway 180 Squaw Valley, California
Winter Driving Tips
Driving safely and lawfully is the first step in enjoying your winter activities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks!
Visit the California Department of Transportation's website for road conditions in other areas and more about winter driving.
Last updated: January 27, 2021