Living in Central California, Sequoia National Park is a place that I try to visit at least once a year. With a scenic road that travels through the park, short hiking trails to choose from, and many unique attractions, Sequoia National Park is a popular outdoor escape for California locals, especially in the summer!
A quick day trip from the surrounding cities can bring you to feel submerged in a magical forest with some of the biggest trees in the world.
If you are planning a trip there, we cover 15 of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park!
This travel itinerary covers quick day hikes, viewpoints, and other must-see highlights. Plus, we share where to stay and other tips for visiting Sequoia National Park so you can plan the perfect trip to this stunning California park.
Where Is Sequoia National Park Located?
Sequoia National Park is situated within the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Central California. The entrance to Sequoia National Park is located approximately:
- 45 minutes from Visalia
- 1.5 hours from Fresno
- 2 hours from Bakersfield
If you’re planning a longer trip, you can also combine a visit to Kings Canyon National Park which borders Sequoia to the north of it.
Generals Highway is the main road that travels through Sequoia National Park. Visitor Centers and many of the top attractions are located along this highway.
Keep in mind that this is a wild, rugged region with very few amenities and hotels nearby. Three Rivers is the closest town to the entrance gates so many people make it their home base while exploring Sequoia National Park.
I suggest stocking up on everything you may need for your visit to Sequoia National Park including food, water, and gas before you head out there. There are no gas stations or cell service once you enter the park so it’s best to go prepared.
Location: Sequoia National Park
The vehicle entrance fee to visit Sequoia National Park costs $35 and is good for 7 consecutive days. With the entrance pass, you can also visit Kings Canyon National Park so in a way you get 2-for-1 when visiting these two parks on the same trip.
If you plan to visit several National Parks in the next year or return at a later date, I suggest getting America the Beautiful Pass that grants you unlimited entries into any US National Park for a year. This is the pass that I get every year and it pays itself off within a few trips.
How Many Days Do You Need?
Sequoia National Park covers over 400,000 acres of wilderness. But 95% of this protected land is located in the backcountry and is not easily accessible.
Most people come to Sequoia National Park for the day to explore attractions that can easily be reached from Generals Highway.
The lack of available campsites and hotels within park boundaries limits people to day trips.
We usually set aside a weekend for a visit to Sequoia National Park. I’ve been to Sequoia many times over different seasons and there is still something new to explore every time I return!
Best Time To Visit Sequoia National Park
June through August are the peak months for visiting Sequoia National Park. Summer is a popular time for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and sightseeing.
Tip: If you plan to travel to Sequoia National Park in the summer, be sure to arrive early, find a parking spot, and take advantage of the free shuttle system.
My personal favorite time to visit Sequoia is in the winter when the crowds start to thin out, the park starts to quiet down and you might find yourself hiking through magical winter wonderland landscapes without another person in sight.
But there are a few things to keep in mind before heading out to Sequoia National Park in the winter. The temperatures drop to freezing at night and snow often covers the roads requiring visitors to drive with caution and bring chains for their tires.
Be sure to check out our Guide To Visiting Sequoia National Park In The Winter before heading out there in the off-season.
Hotels Near Sequoia National Park
The lodging options near Sequoia National Park include hotels, Inns, private rentals, cabins, and campsites. If you’re looking for a larger chain hotel, your best bet is to book one in Visalia, about a 45-minute drive from the park entrance gate.
Here are some of the top places to stay near Sequoia National Park:
Wuksachi Lodge is the only hotel located within Sequoia National Park boundaries. Many of the park’s hotels and cabins were removed after it was discovered that the buildings were damaging to growing Sequoia Trees.
Wuksachi Lodge features 102 guest rooms and a restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat after sightseeing. Rooms come with amazing natural wood & stone décor, and private bathrooms. This hotel is an ideal choice for a comfortable family vacation at the center of Sequoia National Park.
Rio Sierra Riverhouse
Rio Sierra Riverhouse is located in Three Rivers town, a mere 15 minutes from Sequoia National Park entrance gate. This wonderful hotel is inviting and comfortable providing guests with a relaxing stay right next to the river.
All rooms are fully equipped and feature free Wi-Fi. There are swimming and picnicking facilities on site for guests to use.
Comfort Inn & Suites Sequoia Kings Canyon
Comfort Inn & Suites is one of the most popular hotels to stay in Three Rivers for a visit to Sequoia National Park. This relaxed and convenient hotel offers a choice of rooms and suites for its guests.
All rooms come with free Wi-Fi, a coffee machine, and a TV. An outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub add to the appeal, as does the seasonal shuttle to and from the Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park Camping
There are a couple of campgrounds within Sequoia National Park:
If these campgrounds are booked up, you can also search for open spots in Kings Canyon National Park or within private campgrounds outside of the park.
National Park campgrounds get reserved pretty quickly, so we usually opt to stay at the Three Rivers Hideaway campground south of Sequoia National Park. The Three Rivers Hideaway is a private campground that offers tent, campervan, RV spots, and a couple of cabins.
The Three Rivers Hideaway tent & campervan spots cost $40/night. This campground is located next to the river that is popular for thrilling white water rafting (which I’ve personally done here and highly recommend!).
The Three Rivers Hideaway has toilets with running water and hot showers which are perfect for rinsing off after a full day of hiking.
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Things To Do In Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park offers many unique attractions including marveling at some of the biggest trees in the world, endless hiking trails, overlooks, and even a hidden waterfall.
Here are some of the top things to see & do at Sequoia National Park!
1. General Sherman Tree
Start your visit by stopping by the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume of its trunk. This is the most popular attraction to see at Sequoia National Park and will truly make you feel so small standing next to it!
The easiest way to reach the General Sherman Tree is from the General Sherman Trailhead. There is a short, paved trail that travels down to the tree and different vantage points of it. If you’re visiting in the summer and have parked somewhere else, you can also take a shuttle that will drop you off at a bus stop near the pathway.
The General Sherman Tree is around 2000 years old and 275 feet tall. This tree grows in a prime spot that provides plenty of nutrients to keep it growing even now. The top of the tree is no longer alive so the tree can’t grow taller, but it sure can keep growing even larger in its trunk size!
General Sherman Tree was named by pioneer James Wolverton in 1879 after a general that he served with in the Civil War. If you wish to take a photo standing in front of this iconic tree, be ready to wait in a short line for your turn.
Location: General Sherman Tree
2. Moro Rock
Moro Rock is another highly popular highlight of Sequoia National Park. Moro Rock is a towering granite monolith that sits at 6725 feet in elevation and can be seen standing tall above the treeline as you drive into the park from the south.
Visitors can take 350 steep stairs to the summit of Moro Rock which have been carved into the side of this rock formation.
The path to the top of Moro Rock is 0.5 miles long and will provide you with some of the best views of the park and the surrounding landscape.
The Crescent Meadow Road that leads to Moro Rock is usually closed to car traffic so be prepared to hike additional 1.6 miles each way, especially in the off-season and on the weekends. In the summer you can hop on a shuttle from the Giant Forest Museum that will drop you off right by the Moro Rock Trailhead.
Moro Rock is a very busy climb so you will need to pass many people going up and down. There are steep drop-offs all around, especially at the summit which can be a bit challenging for those with a fear of heights.
Location: Moro Rock Trail
3. Giant Forest Museum
There are several visitor centers at Sequoia National Park where you can get information and check out a few trail maps:
- Foothills Visitor Center
- Giant Forest Museum
- Lodgepole Visitor Center
Upon arrival, we usually stop by the Giant Forest Museum. This is also the starting point of several popular hiking trails including the Big Trees Trail and the road to Moro Rock.
In the 1950s the Giant Forest Museum used to mark the location of a market, cafeteria, and gift shop, along with several different motels and cabins. All of these buildings were negatively affecting the nearby Sequoias and eventually were removed to preserve these giant trees and their sensitive roots.
Outside the Giant Forest Museum, you can marvel at the Sentinel Tree, a giant 2200-year-old Sequoia. While you may think that this tree is quite large upon seeing it for the first time, you’ll be surprised to learn that the Sentinel is actually just average in size compared to other Sequoias at this park.
Location: Giant Forest Museum
4. Tunnel Log
The Tunnel Log is a quick, but interesting stop at Sequoia National Park. To get there, you can walk on the paved Crescent Meadow Road for 1.6 miles from The Giant Forest Museum or take a shuttle that will drop you off right next to it.
The Tunnel Log is a fallen Sequoia Tree with a giant hole that was carved out in the 1930’s so that cars could pass through it.
Nowadays National Parks don’t modify natural landmarks anymore but this is a very popular attraction that draws many people to take photos walking through its hollowed-out trunk.
Location: Sequoia National Park’s Tunnel Log
5. Big Trees Trail
The Big Trees Trail is one of the easiest and most rewarding hikes within the Giant Forest. This is a short 0.6-mile loop that follows next to a meadow with many giant Sequoia trees growing all around it. Here you can also learn more about why Sequoias only grow in this part of California and nowhere else in the world.
To reach the Big Trees Trail you can park in the visitor lot across from the Giant Forest Museum and take one of two paths that lead there. The Big Trees Trail is mostly flat making it a great hiking option for families with little kids.
For Sequoia trees to thrive, they need water, plenty of sun, a bare forest floor, an open canopy, and fire. And this meadow provides the perfect setting for all of these requirements.
Unfortunately, many of the Sequoia trees in this area have been damaged by roads, campgrounds, restaurants, and cabins that were built around the meadow. It wasn’t until 2000 that all of the man-made buildings were removed.
Location: Big Trees Trail
6. Tokopah Falls
If you’re looking for a hike that offers different scenery (besides seeing big trees), I recommend hiking out to Tokopah Falls. This is a stunning waterfall that is located near Lodgepole Visitor Center in the northern part of Sequoia National Park.
The trail to Tokopah Falls is 1.7 miles long one way and gains around 600 feet in elevation. The trailhead starts by the Lodgepole Campground and follows next to the Marble Fork Kaweah River for the entire time.
Along the Tokopah Falls Trail, you can enjoy views of towering granite mountains that surround this river canyon. The trail ends at the Tokopah waterfall that flows down a cascading granite slope.
Location: Tokopah Trailhead
7. The Congress Trail
The Congress Trail is one of my favorite hikes at Sequoia National Park. This 2-mile-long loop leads to some of the largest Sequoia groups within the Giant Forest.
The Congress Trail starts by the General Sherman Tree and travels south for about a mile before it loops back up. You can also get there from The Giant Forest Museum by taking Alta Trail north, although this option takes much longer.
Some of the highlights of The Congress Trail include the:
- House Group
- Senate Group
- President Tree
- McKinley Tree
- Chief Sequoyah Tree
These famous Sequoia trees have grown very close to each other giving the impression of a very dense forest. There is plenty to see along the Congress Trail and it’s less crowded than many other hikes at this park.
Location: The Congress Trail
8. Amphitheater Point
Amphitheater Point is a beautiful viewpoint along the scenic General Highway that leads in and out of Sequoia National Park.
From this overlook, you can see many of the hairpin turns of the road, layers of mountains in the distance, and the Moro Rock standing tall above the trees.
Location: Amphitheater Point
9. Hanging Rock
The Hanging Rock is an interesting rock formation on top of a sloping granite slab. Hanging Rock Trail is located just 0.2 miles from Moro Rock so you can see them both on the same visit.
The Hanging Rock is situated at the edge of a cliff with no railings around so be sure to keep an eye on where you step. This is not a very busy location so it’s a great spot to come and enjoy the views, especially for sunset.
Location: Hanging Rock
10. Parker Group
Parker Group is a large group of Sequoia trees that are located near the Moro Rock. Here you can observe a set of giant Sequoias that have grown very close to each other.
This group of trees is named after the Parker Family and James Parker, a Sequoia National Park Superintendent who in 1893 protected the park from poachers and illegal farmers.
A few other noteworthy nearby trees include the:
- Auto Log. Auto Log is a giant fallen Sequoia that you can see up close. After this tree fell in 1917, a driveway was built on top of it so cars could drive across it. While the park does not modify natural features anymore, visitors can marvel at the giant tree roots from its base.
- Colonel Young Tree. This is a giant tree that was named in honor of Colonel Young, an army officer who became the first Black superintendent at Sequoia National Park. His troops completed many important park projects to provide access to the public while also keeping the Sequoias protected.
- The Roosevelt Tree. This is a giant Sequoia tree that’s located on top of a hill near the Moro Rock Trailhead.
Location: Parker Group Sequoias
11. Crescent Meadow
Crescent Meadow is a serene meadow that is not as visited as other parts of Sequoia National Park. This is a great area to explore if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy an easy stroll through a beautiful, lush meadow full of plants and giant trees.
To get there you can take a shuttle from the Giant Forest Museum to the end of Crescent Meadow Road. Several hiking trails start at the same trailhead including the mile-long Crescent Meadow Loop.
Remote and quiet meadows are great places for wildlife sightings. After stopping by the Crescent Meadow viewpoint we kept going to the Crescent Creek where we spotted a small black bear munching on plants in the middle of the meadow.
Location: Crescent Meadow
12. Lost Grove
The Lost Grove is a small grove of Sequoia trees that is located near the border of Kings Canyon National Park. This is a quick stop that’s worth checking out if you’re driving to Kings Canyon but doesn’t necessarily warrant a trip out there on its own.
The Lost Grove consists of 47 acres of Sequoia Trees. Within this grove, 56 of the Sequoias are over 10 feet in diameter. There is a small viewing area with a restroom for visitors to stop and see the giant trees, but most of this grove is not accessible.
The Muir Grove is another nearby grove that is less visited within Sequoia National Park, but much of this area burned in a recent fire.
Location: Lost Grove
13. Drive The Generals Highway
If you’re short on time, you can spend a few hours driving the scenic Generals Highway that travels through Sequoia National Park. There are plenty of viewpoints to pull over, stretch your legs, and enjoy views of the Giant Forest.
If you have extra time, I suggest continuing along Highway 180 which travels through Kings Canyon National Park. Along this route, you can enjoy dramatic landscapes of glacier-shaped granite cliffs and deeply carved valleys.
14. Beetle Rock
The Beetle Rock is a great place to enjoy views for sunset, especially on a clear day. From this rock, you can even see the coastal range about 100 miles away.
Beetle Rock can be easily reached from the Giant Forest Museum within a 0.3-mile-long trail. Beetle Rock consists of a massive granite rock formation that is visible on the surface.
Location: Beetle Rock Trail
15. Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave is a unique attraction that’s a bit different than the rest of the highlights at Sequoia National Park. The Crystal Cave is an underground marble cave where visitors can learn about the cave’s geological features and the animals that reside there.
Tickets for Crystal Cave tours must be purchased online ahead of time. Learn more about the Crystal Cave Tours here!
Location: Crystal Cave (Sequoia National Park)
Other Sequoia National Park Visitor Tips
Here are a few tips for a safe and enjoyable trip to Sequoia National Park:
- There is no cell service once you enter the park. Be sure to look up the main attractions and download an offline hiking map like AllTrails or Maps.Me ahead of time.
- There is limited water and food at Sequoia National Park, especially in the off-season. Come prepared with plenty of water, food & snacks for the day.
- There are no gas stations within the park boundaries. Fill up on gas in Three Rivers town before heading into the park.
- Parking is very limited. In the summer season, I recommend arriving early in the morning to find a parking spot and then hopping on the free park shuttle to get around.
Here are a few rules and advisories to keep in mind for your visit:
- Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails and are limited to staying on paved roads and campgrounds. It’s best to leave your dog at home when visiting Sequoia National Park. Please do not leave your pets alone in the car, especially on hot days as it can be very dangerous for them.
- Droning is not allowed in National Parks. Flying a drone in National Parks can lead to a hefty fine.
- Vandalizing, graffiti, or removing anything from National Parks is prohibited.
- Please follow the‘Leave No Trace Principles’ when visiting the outdoors and leave places better than you found them.
If you’re planning your first trip to Sequoia National Park, there are so many incredible things to see & do within this magical park!
Looking for more California travel inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our other popular California travel posts below:
- 15 Best Places To Stay Near Sequoia National Park
- 15 Amazing Hotels Near Sequoia National Park
- 10 Outstanding Day Hikes In Sequoia National Park
- 6 Incredible Day Hikes At Kings Canyon National Park
- 18 Amazing Things To Do In Yosemite For First-Time Visitors
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