Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in your RV
In the state of California, you can find nine national parks. Three are located in the desert while two are located on the coast. Still four others are located in the mountains, with three of the mountainous parks being found in the Sierra Nevada range. We have previously discussed the logistics and planning behind visiting Yosemite National Park in your RV. Just a couple hours south of Yosemite, you can find Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.
Because they are so close in proximity, these parks function as one unit, although they are technically separate. Here, you can find the world-famous giant Sequoia trees, but there is also so much more to be discovered in these incredible parks. There are mountains, valleys, meadows, rivers, lakes, old growth forests, and historic buildings, with many different park sections and areas available to visit. Both parks are very RV-friendly, and they make excellent places to spend a vacation in your RV. If you are looking to visit either (or both!) of these parks with your home on wheels, consider the following tips while planning your trip.
1. Assess campground options
There are several campground options in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Each has a range of different characteristics, including the RV sizes accepted, accommodations such as bathrooms and showers, and proximity to other amenities. They are also each located in different areas of the two parks, so choosing your campground based on the activities you wish to enjoy is suggested.
Six campgrounds accept reservations up to six months in advance, and these include Potishwa, Dorst Creek, Buckeye Flat, Lodgepole, Sentinel, and Sunset campgrounds. There are also six first come, first-served campgrounds, including Moraine, South Fork, Azalea, Atwell Mill, Sheep Creek, and Cold Springs. These typically fill on the weekends, so it’s best to come in the mid-morning in the middle of the week to find a site.
2. Arrive during the day
Most people drive Highway 180 to enter these parks, and this road is rather narrow and windy. This is not to deter you, as this can be accomplished while driving or towing an RV. However, for the best possible experience and to avoid any mishaps, you should plan to travel and arrive during the day. This will give you plenty of light to see and enjoy the entrance to the park. This road is very scenic, so be sure to snap some photos!
3. Hike early in Sequoia
Although both parks are spectacular, Sequoia National Park is home to General Sherman, the largest tree in the world. Because of this, the park is more heavily trafficked and much busier. The trailheads have limited parking, which can fill quickly in the peak summer season. Plan to arrive at trailheads and hike early for the best possible reason. If you are visiting during a summer weekend, consider spending more time in Kings Canyon to beat the thick crowds.
4. Spend plenty of time in Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon is like Sequoia’s less popular sister. Both parks are gorgeous and have plenty of beautiful sights to offer, but many people visit and spend most of their time in Sequoia. For a better and more well-rounded experience, try to split your time between the parks or spend at least a day driving through Kings Canyon and enjoying its beauty. You won’t be sorry you did!
5. Explore more than just the big trees
The main attraction of these parks is their groves of giant sequoia trees. While these are incredible and certainly worth visiting and experiencing, there is so much additional beauty to see and enjoy here. Consider taking a drive in either park, hiking through the meadows, having a picnic, going swimming in a river, visiting a waterfall, or partaking in any of the ranger-led activities. The history, wildlife, and the trees are all fantastic, so it would be a shame to visit the park and focus on just the trees.
6. Stop at the visitors centers
While often overlooked, the visitors centers are the true learning centers of each and every park. Here, you can read about the park’s history and also discover information about its wildlife and ecology. You can also watch a park film, sign up for programs, or visit the gift shop for some fun souvenirs to take home. In addition, there are plenty of rangers who will be happy to suggest trails and activities for you and your group to enjoy. Each park has its own visitor center, so be sure to stop at each before setting out to see the sights.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain some of the most spectacular sights known to man. This is a dream destination for any RVer, and, if you haven’t yet, you should certainly add it to your bucket list. Be sure to heed these suggestions when planning your trip, and take plenty of photos to document all the beauty.
Have you visited Sequoia National Park or Kings Canyon National Park? Which was your favorite? Do you have any additional suggestions? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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Please note that an RV can’t enter through the southern entrance to the park through Three Rivers due to the very windy and switch-backed road at that end. RVs must use the northern entrance and can only drive to the Giant Forest area. There are also two caves (one in each park), but the preferred one is in Sequoia at Giant Forest end of park. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for the tips on the entrances and the caves! When I visited, I entered through Kings Canyon and camped there, opting for a couple day trips into Sequoia.:)
is sheep creek is open?
According to their website, it appears that Sheep Creek has been temporarily closed. Many of the parks have kept 1-2 campgrounds open, though.
Sequoia National Park is a truly fantastic place, which I would recommend everyone visit at least once in their lifetime in order to experience and understand the true definition of the word AMAZEMENT! No picture nor any words can adequately convey the jaw-dropping amazement that will overcome the senses upon viewing the giant Sequoias of this area.
Unfortunately, as I am writing this, I sit several miles below the park, unable to visit them due to the park closures forced by the Covid19 pandemic. Disappointment, absolutely. But, I do have the memories of having visited in days past.
That is rather disappointing! I hope you are able to return again someday.