Giants are often thought to be big, scary monsters, but other giants are a bit more natural, gentle, and impressive. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are known as a land of giants because of the world’s tallest trees that live here among the towering mountains, deep canyons, and rugged landscapes. These two parks are next to each other, so it’s worth making a point to visit both of them in California.
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The best way to explore the giant sequoia groves is on foot because there’s nothing like walking among the giants and feeling so tiny. Popular spots to check out are the Giant Forest, Grant Grove, Redwood Mountain Grove, and Muir Grove. There are lots of great day hike options here, or you can plan an overnight backpacking trip to experience the over 800,000 acres of wilderness. Just be aware that you will need a wilderness permit if you plan to camp overnight outside of the designated campgrounds.
There are several designated campgrounds that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Although there are no RV hookups in the parks, you can use RV generators at certain campgrounds and during specific hours. It’s also important to know that RVs over 22 feet long aren’t allowed between Hospital Rock and Giant Forest. If you’re looking for comfortable lodging, you can also book a guest room at the Wuksachi Lodge, the John Muir Lodge, Cedar Grove Lodge, or the Grant Grove Cabins.
In addition to hiking and camping, it’s also fun to take a scenic drive through these parks (and maybe even through a tree!) to maximize your sightseeing if you’re pressed for time. Some excellent places to pull over are Amphitheater Point, Eleven Range Outlook, Junction View, and the Redwood Mountain Overlook. There are also some really epic places to go rock climbing here, especially at the Obelisk and Grand Sentinel, as well as Chimney Rock and Moro Rock. Guided horseback rides are available in the summertime, and snow play areas are fun for both kids and adults during the winter.
These are very popular parks, so expect crowds to be heavy and traffic to be congested if you visit on a weekend in the summer. Free park shuttles are available in the Giant Forest and Lodgepole areas, and other shuttle options are available for a fee.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are open 24 hours a day and 465 days a year. There four visitor centers, a museum, and a ranger station where you can get information and advice. Both parks are included in your vehicle pass admission fee of $30, or the fee is just $15 if you arrive on foot or by bicycle. Just make sure to take your time getting to know these gentle giants, appreciate their immense size and longevity, and stare up through their branches to the sky to put it all into perspective.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Information: