For over 130 years (and decades before the National Park Service was formed), Sequoia National Park has stood guard over its namesake’s giant sequoia trees. Logging operations in the 1850s had threatened to eradicate the massive trees, known as Sequoiadendron giganteum. Recognizing the urgent need to save the forest, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation to make the land a national park--the first park created to protect a living organism.
The park sits in California’s Central Valley, near the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over a million visitors flock to the park each year to experience the breathtaking backdrop of towering trees against rocky mountains and clear blue skies.
There is no better way to explore the beauty of the park than with an immersive camping experience. From tent camping to RV campgrounds, there is something for everyone.
Here are a few of the top campgrounds and tips for making reservations so that you get the most out of your trip when visiting Sequoia National park.
Atwell Mill Campground is a 21-site tent camping area along the east fork of the Kaweah River. Space is $12, and available on a first-come-first-served basis, with operations from early summer to late fall. The campsite offers vault toilets, a payphone, trailhead access to a nearby sequoia grove, and potable water through mid-October. Campers love the privacy of the quiet, wooded setting.
In the park’s famed foothills, Buckeye Flat Campground is an oasis with its canopy of towering trees and the gentle breeze from the nearby Kaweah River. It offers 28 tent camping sites, along with flush toilets and water spigots. Buckeye Flat accepts reservations for $22 a site during its peak season of May 20th to September 22nd. There are also two accessible spaces available within the campground.
If you’re looking for seclusion and a chance to interact with the park’s thriving wildlife population, this 40-site tent camping area is the perfect place for you. Located just an hour from the town of Three Rivers, Cold Spring offers vault toilets and potable water. Sites are just $12 a night on a first-come-first-served basis.
With 218 sites that accommodate both tents and RVs, Dorst Creek offers both seclusion and modern amenities like flush toilets, running water, and an RV dumping site. The campground accepts reservations and allows campers to use generators during designated hours. It even has a shuttle stop that takes campers to the nearby Giant Forest.
As one of the largest campgrounds in Sequoia, Lodgepole allows campers to socialize and enjoy the company of fellow nature enthusiasts without compromising the authentic Sequoia experience. Its 214 sites are private and shady and can fit both tents and RVs. Amenities include a dump station, running water, flush toilets, a payphone, and a shuttle to the Giant Forest. The campground accepts reservations during peak season.
Open all year long, Potwisha is the perfect place for campers who want to enjoy the pristine beauty of the park during the winter months. It offers 42 sites for tents and RVs alike and offers flush toilets, a dump station, and running water during the peak season. Reservations are available during the peak season, with first-come-first-served availability the rest of the year.
As the other campground that is available during the winter months, South Fork is a popular spot for campers who want a genuinely primitive experience. With just ten tent camping sites, the campground offers plenty of space for campers to spread out and take in the surrounding forest’s majesty. Campsites are first-come-first-served and with access to vault toilets.
If you can’t camp inside the park, there are plenty of other camping options in nearby Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Forest, and Giant Sequoia National Monument.
Now that you know where to camp in Sequoia National Park, you can start filling your itinerary with some of the many activities the park offers. If you’re only exploring for the day, consider using the park’s shuttle bus. It’s just $15 and runs from the nearby towns of Three Rivers or Visalia right inside the park to the Giant Trees Museum. Make reservations in advance to ensure you get a seat.
Sequoia National Park offers hiking trails for novice and expert hikers alike. Trails range from an easy 200-foot trek to the famed General Sherman Tree (the largest known tree in the world) to steep and winding trails that lead to the parks many waterfalls and lakes. Make sure to plan your route in advance and bring essential items like water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellant, a first aid kit, and a flashlight.
Sequoia National Park is known for its exceptional ranger programs and guided hikes. Suitable for all ages, it’s an ideal way to learn more about the park, its history, and its wildlife. Other activities include horseback riding, fishing (a license is required), and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter months.
With plenty of picnic shelters and recreation areas, you can choose to pack your own picnic lunch or stop into one of the area’s many restaurants. From breakfast at the Peaks Restaurant to a hearty buffet at the Montecito Sequoia Lodge, great food with an even greater view is just a short hike or shuttle ride away.
Sequoia is known for its diverse landscape and natural beauty. Here are just a few of the must-see stops for your travel itinerary.
The trail, a landmark itself, is also a great way to get a better look at the park and the surrounding mountain range. It’s an easy climb with a built-in staircase of just a 300-ft change in elevation.
Home to the General Sherman Tree, the Giant Forest hosts enormous trees in seemingly endless groves. General Sherman holds court over the forest, standing at an incredible 275 feet tall.
One of the many marble cave systems inside Sequoia, Crystal Cave is a half-mile, ranger-led tour of one of the park’s most beautiful underground wonders. Visitors will hear the history of the cave’s formation and take in the splendor of its stalagmites and stalactites.
One of our team members recently went to Sequoia National Park and stumbled upon this magical land. Marble Falls Trail is a 7.4 mile out and back trail located near Stony Creek Village, California. The hike leads to a waterfall with pools of water to take a dip and marble rock that shines like diamonds.
To ensure a successful trip to the park, decide in advance what activities you’d like to do and where you’d like to stay. Map out your itinerary before you leave, so you have plenty of time and all the information you need to see the landmarks on your list. Here are some sample itineraries to help you better understand how much time you’ll need. Arrange for wilderness permits in advance if you’ll be backpacking overnight. Make campground reservations early to ensure you get space at the campground of your choice. Check weather predictions before you leave for your trip, along with road conditions and other park alerts. And of course, don't forget your gear! Check out our Sequoia National Park Collection here.
Enjoy your trip to Sequoia National Park and the one-of-a-kind beauty it holds. It’s one of our nation’s most treasured landmarks and is sure to offer memories that will last a lifetime.