There are not many places on this planet quite like Sequoia National Park. This is a guide on how to spend one day in Sequoia National Park, including what to do, the main attractions, a suggested Sequoia National Park itinerary, and more!
Visiting Sequoia National Park is a must if you’re in California! Seriously – it didn’t earn the nickname ‘Land the Giants’ for nothing! Inside this California national park, you will find huge mountains, rugged canyons, caverns, and as the name suggests, the largest trees in the world.
Planning a trip to Sequoia National Park is easy but you must do it in advance to make the most of the park. Regardless of whether you’re visiting Sequoia National Park in winter or in summer, you will find several amazing things to do that it is a worthwhile trip!
In this guide, you will find tips for ways to experience Sequoia National Park in one day … we offer activity suggestions and tips for how to also visit Kings Canyon, Sequoia’s sister park.
We also share accommodation tips – from the best Airbnbs near Sequoia National Park to hotels in the local cities and towns.
If you have any questions or tips, please leave them in the comments section. We answer some of your commonly asked questions later in the post, so be sure to check it out in order to help you better plan your Sequoia trip!
In this post...
- One Day in Sequoia National Park Pre-Planning
- Sequoia National Park Visitor Centers
- One Day in Sequoia – Things to Do
- Sequoia National Park Itinerary Suggestions + Map
- Things to Do Near Sequoia National Park
- Useful Tips for Visiting Sequoia National Park
- Sequoia National Park – Commonly Asked Questions
- Where to Stay
- Should You Plan a Sequoia National Park Day Trip?
- Additional National Park Reading
- Pin This Sequoia National Park 1 Day Itinerary
One Day in Sequoia National Park Pre-Planning
This next section tells you exactly why you should visit Sequoia National Park and some of the general questions you may ask before planning your trip.
Quick Facts about Sequoia NP
Best Time to Visit Sequoia National Park
The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is from late May to early June. This is an ideal time because temperatures are warming up, waterfalls and streams are flowing, wildlife is active, and summer crowds have not yet arrived.
If you are prepared for sunny days and chilly nights, this time of the year can be a perfect time to visit Sequoia NP. However, the ideal time to visit depends on what you like to do in a national park and your weather desires! Below are a few added tips for other times to visit.
Warm weather – Visit from July to September. Warm temperatures make camping very pleasant and it is the best time for hiking in Sequoia National Park, but this season also brings the most tourists.
Most of the campgrounds are first-come, first-served (though some are by reservation), so it can get crowded in the summer. There are many ranger-led programs during this time as well.
Changing seasons – Visit from April to June or September to November. Spring starts with temperatures warming, snow melting, wildflowers blooming, and rivers and waterfalls filling.
Wildlife becomes more active during spring in Sequoia. It can still be quite cold at night and some groves may still have snow. Most campgrounds open up in May.
During fall in Sequoia National Park, leaves change color and temperatures get cooler. Many of the campgrounds close in late September/early October, so please take note of that.
Peace and quiet – Visit from November to April. Much of the park is inaccessible during the winter months due to snow, and some areas are only accessible by all-terrain vehicles.
Campgrounds are shut down, but the park is still open during winter in Sequoia! Hiking in the foothills, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are popular activities in the winter. There are far fewer visitors in the winter and solitude is abundant. Wildflowers begin to bloom in the foothills as early as January.
How Many Days Do You Need in Sequoia National Park?
You can certainly take a day trip to Sequoia National Park and get in some nice hiking and amazing views as we cover in this post, but the best way would be to spend several days in the park.
Sequoia National Forest is connected to Kings Canyon National Park, so spending at least a few days exploring both parks is ideal. If you are a hiker, this is an ideal national park for you as there are plenty of hiking trails and forests to wander through.
How to Get to Sequoia National Park
If you’re looking to get to Sequoia National Park from Los Angeles, the most beautiful route would be to drive California Hwy 198 through Three Rivers and Visalia. This will lead you to the Ash Mountain Entrance (approximately one hour from US Hwy 99).
If you’re driving to Sequoia National Park from the north, you will want to hop on California Hwy 180 east after taking US Hwy 99 to Fresno. This will lead you to the Foothills Entrance.
Do check the NPS website to ensure that roads are, in fact, open! It is not uncommon for roads to close in Sequoia NP during the winter months.
Sequoia National Park Entrance Fee
The fee for visiting Sequoia National Park is $35 for a private vehicle or $20 for those on foot or bike. This is valid for 7 days and will also grant you access to Kings Canyon National Park.
However, we recommend you purchase the ‘America the Beautiful’ pass that is only $79.99 and covers ALL national parks for the entire year!
Sequoia National Park Visitor Centers
There are two visitor centers in Sequoia National Park – Lodgepole Visitor Center and Foothills Visitor Center. There is also tourist information at the Giant Forest Museum and Mineral King Ranger Station.
Here is a little additional information about each visitor center or information point:
- Foothills Visitor Center: Open daily, year-round. You can pick up wilderness permits here. Located on Generals Hwy, 1 mile north of Ash Mountain Entrance.
- Lodgepole Visitor Center: Open daily from May until mid-October. Located on Generals Hwy, 21 miles north of Ash Mountain Entrance and 2 miles north of General Sherman Tree.
- Mineral King Ranger Station: Open daily from May 24 until September 23. Located 24 miles from the junction of Hwy 198 in Three Rivers on Mineral King Road.
- Giant Forest Museum: Open daily, year-round. Can pick up wilderness permits here. Located on Generals Hwy 16 miles north of Ash Mountain Entrance.
One Day in Sequoia – Things to Do
There are a variety of things to do in Sequoia National Park – from hiking (and lots of it!) to ranger-led programs and more. These are some of my recommended things to do in Sequoia if you only have one day. Please note that we encourage a lot of hiking in Sequoia – it is truly epic for that!
Go Hiking in the Foothills
There are several trails in the dry foothills of Sequoia National Park. These are accessible all year round. Winter and spring bring wildflowers, and summer brings warm temperatures and high rivers. And, fall brings cooler temperatures and fall colors. Below are some of the most popular trails in the foothills:
- Middle Fork Trail (3 mi/5 km): takes you past views of Moro Rock and Castle Rock and leads to Panther Creek Falls.
- Lady Bug Trail (3 mi/5 km): takes you to one of the lowest-elevation sequoia groves.
- Garfield Grove Trail (5 mi/8.3 km one way): a steep trail that takes you to Garfield Sequoia Grove.
Go Hiking in the Forest
Trails abound in the forest area of Sequoia National Park! Be sure to stop at a visitor center to talk to the rangers and get a map of the trails. Some of the most popular sites and trails are:
- General Sherman Tree: the largest living tree by volume on Earth. This amazing tree has a circumference of 102 feet and is 275 feet tall. There is a half-mile trail down to the tree from a parking area.
- The Big Trees Trail (.75 mi/1 km): circles Round Meadow and has a series of informative panels along the trail that describes sequoia ecology. The trail is paved and handicap accessible.
- Moro Rock: a popular lookout-point, which you can reach via a steep 300-foot stairway. At the top, you will have a fantastic view of the western half of the park and the Great Western Divide.
- Tokopah Falls: an impressive 1,200-foot high waterfall over granite cliffs. The trail is an easy 1.7 mi/2.7 km walk along the Marble fork of the Kaweah River.
Other Sequoia National Park Hiking Options
There are so many hiking options at Sequoia, it’s hard to choose where to go. Here are some alternative hiking areas and trails in Sequoia National Park:
- Grant Grove: This area has several trails among the sequoias that give you the possibility to get an up-close look at these giant trees. There are meadows, creeks, and mixed conifer and sequoia forests in this area. Buena Vista Peak gives a 360 view of the trees in Redwood Canyon, Buck Rock Fire Tower, and the high Sierra. Redwood Canyon is the largest of sequoia groves and has sixteen miles of trails to explore.
- Cedar Grove: There are meadows, rivers, bridges, wooded areas, and waterfalls in this area. Don Cecil Trail leads to views of Monarch Divide and a shady glen on Sheep Creek. If you’re looking for an all-day hike, Lookout Peak is a 13-mile round-trip hike that climbs 4,000 feet to an incredible panoramic view of the park. Mist Falls trail leads to one of the largest waterfalls in the park through the forest and past other smaller waterfalls.
Take the Scenic Route
There are several amazing scenic drives in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon (and many that connect the two popular US national parks!). Here are a few scenic drives to consider:
- Generals Highway: This renowned highway connects both Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP and drives through many gorgeous sequoia groves. This is also the area where many trailheads are located and you can also see several overlooks.
- Majestic Mountain Loop: This is a newer thoroughfare in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park that actually connects the parks with other parts of California, including Yosemite National Park.
- Panoramic Point Road: You can pick up this scenic drive just east of the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. You will see several spectacular overlooks along the way and eventually end up at Hume Lake (where you can hop on Generals Highway).
- Kings Canyon Scenic Byway: Highway 180, or the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, is carved into the granite rocks and it takes you across some mind-blowing terrain and gives views of Kings Canyon.
An exciting option available at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park is horseback riding. There are two riding stables where you can reserve a spot in a guided horseback tour. Rides range from one hour to all-day trips with options for all experience levels.
The two stables are actually located in Kings Canyon National Park and the names are Grant Grove Stables and Cedar Grove Pack Station. You can find out more info here on the national park’s website.
Visit Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave is a must-visit in Sequoia National Park. It is around a 40-minute drive from Wuksachi Lodge and is only available and open to the public during the summer months (sorry, winter tourists!)
The Sequoia Parks Conservancy offers guided tours every day from the end of May until the end of September.
If you’re interested in visiting Crystal Cave, it is mandated that you have tickets and reservations before arriving at the cave. You can secure tickets up to 6 months in advance and they can be purchased here or by calling 877-444-6777 (or 518-885-3639 for international travelers). It is recommended to purchase at least 30 days in advance.
Crystal Cave is located right off of Generals Hwy in Sequoia National Park. It is situated between the Ash Mountain Entrance and Giant Forest. It will require a 1/2-mile hike to get to the cave’s entrance.
Sequoia National Park Winter Activities
If you happen to be spending one day in Sequoia National Park in winter, there are far fewer activities, but some are unique and a lot of fun. You can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and more.
There are ranger-led snowshoe hikes offered in the winter, depending on conditions. Snowshoes are provided by the park.
Restaurants in Sequoia National Park (and Nearby)
There are several delis, markets, and restaurants in Sequoia National Park where you can buy food. They have dine-in options or take-away, if you want to grab something for a picnic later in one of the many picnic areas in the park.
You’ll also find several lodges with restaurants, but not all are open year-round. At the Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge, they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and boxed lunches year-round.
If you’re in Grant Grove Village, try the new Grant Grove Restaurant and Courtyard, which features locally grown ingredients in their year-round, breakfast, lunch, and dinner service.
Sequoia National Park Itinerary Suggestions + Map
If you merely have one day in Sequoia National Park, here are our Sequoia itinerary suggestions. Again, this will depend on the season that you’re visiting the park, but we assume you will likely be visiting during the summer, as most travelers do!
- Stop by the Foothills Visitor Center and grab anything you may need for the day.
- Giant Forest Museum: Drive to this museum – it is a great place to learn more about everything you’re going to see in the park (ie. the world’s largest trees!)
- Option 1: Go for a hike on the Big Trees Trail (a fantastic, short trail that will help you get acquainted with sequoias). This is a loop trail that starts and ends at the Giant Forest Museum.
- Option 2: Visit Moro Rock (you can take a shuttle here from the museum or you can drive yourself there on Generals Hwy). It requires a steep climb as mentioned earlier but you will be gifted with an insanely beautiful view!
- General Sherman: this is the world’s largest living tree and an imperative stop on your Sequoia National Park itinerary!
- Late Lunch or Early Dinner: at Wuksachi Lodge or Lodgepole Visitor Center
- Tokopah Falls: this is an easy 1.7-mile hike to a waterfall of the same name
Again this suggested Sequoia itinerary will change depending on the season but is a solid start for first-time visitors planning to spend an entire day in Sequoia National Park.
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Things to Do Near Sequoia National Park
There are some great stops you can make on your way to Sequoia National Park. Family attractions include Discovery Center science museum, Bravo Farms Traver, or Bravo Lake Botanical Garden.
Visit the Visalia Farmers Market to learn about and taste the region’s wide selection of locally grown produce. Learn about local history at the Tulare County Museum, with displays about early settlement in California, vintage clothes, and the country’s largest Native American basket collection.
Every first Saturday of the month, artists, restaurants, and shop owners invite you to come experience art, food, and culture at an outdoor celebration in Three Rivers.
Useful Tips for Visiting Sequoia National Park
There are many things you should know before taking a trip to Sequoia National Park. Here are a few quick practical tips for visiting Sequoia on a day trip:
- Cell phone service is not always available. Download all maps offline and familiarize yourself with the area a little before arriving just in case you can’t connect later.
- There are limited amenities within the park. Stock up on food, gas, and water before entering.
- Take advantage of the single entrance fee for entering both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park!
- Roads can be dangerous in winter. Always check road conditions before driving through and also be sure to have chains on your tires during the snow season. Click here for more driving tips from NPS.
- This is bear country! You must always store your food and garbage well so you don’t run the risk of attracting them.
- Be sure to check if the activities you want to participate in require Wilderness Permits. If so, you can obtain them from Recreation.gov online before traveling to Sequoia National Park.
- If you’re booking anything within the park (permits, tours, campsites, etc), be sure to book ahead as far as you can!
Sequoia National Park – Commonly Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Sequoia National Park. Please leave any other questions you have below in the comments section or send us an email!
Is one day enough for Sequoia National Park? Yes, one day is enough time to visit and see all the main sights in Sequoia National Park. However, if you’re looking to enjoy some of the best overlooks and more challenging trails, you will want another day or two there.
How much time do you need in Sequoia National Park? We would recommend starting your day at 8-9am and finishing up at dusk. This would mean staying overnight somewhere in the nearby area (Three Rivers) or camping somewhere close by. While you can see the main attractions in Sequoia National Park in one day, we recommend more time to deeply explore the stunning nature and the park’s offerings.
What should you not miss in Sequoia National Park? The main highlights in Sequoia National Park are General Sherman Tree (the largest living tree in the world), the Giant Forest Museum, Moro Rock, and Tokopah Falls. There are several short trails that are also recommended depending on how long you stay in the park.
Which is better Yosemite or Sequoia? It depends on what you’re after in a park. Yosemite has fantastic rock domes, waterfalls, and diversity while Sequoia has the world’s largest trees and is less crowded. Sequoia may also be easier to visit with merely one day.
How much does it cost to enter Sequoia National Park? For a private vehicle, it is $35 and for a visitor on foot/bike, it is $20. This pass will give you not only access to Sequoia National Park, but also Kings Canyon National Park and it is valid for 7 days after purchase.
What is the best time to visit Sequoia National Park? The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is from late May to early June. This is an ideal time because temperatures are warming up, waterfalls and streams are flowing, wildlife is active, and summer crowds have not yet arrived.
Is General Sherman tree still standing? The General Sherman Tree is still standing as is recorded to be the world’s largest living tree. It is 275ft in height and 100ft wide at its base.
Are redwoods bigger than sequoias? The difference between a redwood and a sequoia is that the sequoia is the largest tree by volume as it has a huge trunk. The redwood is the world’s tallest tree by height. Sequoia trees tend to be a bright reddish-brown color and redwoods tend to be a duller, chocolate brown hue.
Can you sleep in your car in Sequoia National Park? Yes, you can sleep in your car in Sequoia National Park. But, please note that in order to car camp or pitch in a tent, you may be charged $10. You can do this around the lodges in the park.
Where to Stay
We recommend definitely sorting out your Sequoia National Park lodging situation before planning your trip. Especially if you are traveling there during summer and the high-season.
The following cities and towns are the best places to stay near Sequoia National Park:
All of the places offer a variety of amazing accommodation for those spending time visiting Sequoia. These are also great areas to stay in if you’re visiting both Kings Canyon NP and Sequoia NP.
If you want to stay inside of Sequoia National Park, the best option for non-campers is to stay at Wuksachi Lodge. You can check rates and availability here.
Camping in Sequoia National Park
Camping is a popular way to stay overnight in Sequoia National Park if you’re looking to spend more than just 1 day in Sequoia.
Inside of the park, you’ll find 14 campgrounds and three of them remain open year-round. They are typically first-come, first-served but be sure to double-check when planning your Sequoia trip.
To find out more about campsites in SNP, click here.
Airbnbs near Sequoia National Park
Here are a few Airbnbs in Three Rivers, California… just minutes outside of the Ash Mountain and Foothills Entrance and Visitor Center!
- Storybook Log Cabin near Sequoia (6 people | Sierra Nevada views from $297/night)
- Dinely Drive Getaway (4 people | Gorgeous entire rustic cabin from $191/night)
- Mineral King Guesthouse (3 people | 2 miles from Foothill Entrance of SNP from $136/night)
- Sierra Vista Casita (2 people | entire home just minutes from both parks from $127/night)
- Shiloh 3 miles to Sequoia (4 people | spacious home on an acre of land from $259/night)
- High Mountain View Getaway (2 people | entire cabin in the wilderness from $149/night)
Should You Plan a Sequoia National Park Day Trip?
This is one of the most interesting and underrated national parks in the United States and we definitely reckon that you should plan a trip to Sequoia and see for yourself! Another advantage is that you can also stop next door to Kings Canyon and tick off two US national parks all at one time!
If you’re looking to get a bit more off the path, read this guide to check out the least visited US national parks.
Additional National Park Reading
Here are some of our month and season guides to visiting US national parks. Be sure to check them out!
- Best national parks to visit in December
- Best national parks to visit in January
- Best national parks to visit in February
- Best national parks to visit in March
- Best national parks to visit in April
Additionally, you might be interested in our other California national parks and city guides below:
- LA weekend itinerary
- Best coffee shops in San Diego
- One day in Joshua Tree National Park (and a guide to the best trails in Joshua Tree)
- Death Valley in winter
- Channel Islands National Park (and our guide to hiking in Channel Islands NP)
- California to Arizona road trip itinerary
- 2 days in San Diego itinerary
- Best small towns in California
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