Home to the world’s 5 largest trees, one of them the largest living being on Earth, Sequoia National Park California is the second oldest national park in the United States, and there are a lot of things to do in Sequoia National Park. Visit the giant trees, mountains with snowy peaks, deep canyons and see lots of animals! It’s a land of superlatives!
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACT: THE SEQUOIAS ARE AS TALL AS THE THE STATUE OF LIBERTY IN NEW YORK!
Don’t think you’ll see just one more bush… The Sequoia National Park is really impressive!
1) WHERE TO STAY – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
We chose to stay in Visalia. There is nothing special about the town, but it is the one with the greatest lodging options near Sequoia California National Park. Within the park, the options are very limited and usually expensive.
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACT: MORE THAN 10 BLUE WHALES ARE NEEDED TO EQUAL THE WEIGHT OF THE TRUNK OF SOME SEQUOIAS!
2) HOW TO GET THERE – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Coming from Los Angeles by CA-99N, it will be 303km to Visalia, on an excellent road. It will take you about 3h30min to travel through them. From Visalia to the main entrance of the Sequoia National Park California is about 58km , along Highway 198 east. The road itself is spectacular, with 130 curves and 12 elbows to the Giant Forest.
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACT: SEQUOIAS CAN LIVE MORE THAN 3000 YEARS.
3) HOURS 2018 – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Usually, the park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, in winter, because of the snow, some roads close or it becomes mandatory to use chains on the tires.
4) PRICES 2018 – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
At the entrance gate of the park, without having to get off the car, you buy your ticket. It costs US$ 35.00 per private vehicle regardless of the number of passengers. This pass is valid for a period of up to 7 days.
We prefered to buy the Annual National Parks Pass, called America The Beauty, as it includes Yosemite Park, our next stop for several days. Another reason is that you have a special lane on the right side of the park entrance and with that the queue is nonexistent or smaller. This pass, accepted in over 2000 places in the US, costs US$ 80.00.
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACT: A SEQUOIA CAN BE AS TALL AS THE SIZE OF A SOCCER FIELD!!
Keep in mind that the Sequoia National Park is very busy, mainly during summer. We strongly recommend that you arrive early, otherwise the queue will be long, sometimes before you can use the special lane for the America the Beauty pass holders and you will have to wait.
5) ATTRACTIONS – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
We already visited this wonderful park twice. We know all the highlights and some more. Here I will describe them in the logical order of visiting, from the entrance, in order to maximize your time. It’s very easy. Just follow the map that will be given to you at the entrance to the park.
6) HOSPITAL ROCK OVERLOOK – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
After the many elbows in the the Generals Highway, stop at the belvedere of Hospital Rock to enjoy the scenery. It’s a nice start! Great views and atmosphere.
7) MORO ROCK – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Now pay close attention! Passing through countless beautiful sequoias, including “The 3 Guardians” in the middle of the road, there will be a discreet and tiny road on your right just before the Giant Forest Museum. Take it! It’s super well maintained and is with almost no traffic.
Moro Rock is a giant rock made of layers of granite. These layers are not well compacted, so over thousands of years, they were exfoliated, giving the shape of a rounded dome to the mountain.
After climbing about 400 steps carved into the stone, you will have a beautiful view. We only went there in our first visit. In that last one, we chose to save our strength to hike among the marvelous sequoias.
Moro Rock, we would say, it’s not really a trail, it is a climb with about 91m altitude gain and about 960m distance round trip. It is classified as a moderate hike.
8) TUNNEL LOG – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
The part of the road leading to the Tunnel Log is spectacular. And a delight, as there are almost no visitors. You can enjoy the local vibe alone, which is magical. In addition, it is easily accessible. You just drive and stop on the roadside, without stress, whenever you want. You do not have to hike.
The first stop we recommend is in a huge fallen sequoia, to the left of the road. You can climb on it. The first time we visited, cars were allowed to climb also! Now, cars are not allowed. Just people. The fully exposed roots are incredible.
After that we stopped at a spectacular set of giant sequoias, to the right of the road. We spent a lot of time taking pictures and admiring the place. Only Us. We loved it.
Finally, on this same road, we had a lot of fun driving in the tunnel built on a fallen giant sequoia. Take care if you will drive there! Follow the street direction. Go left to return through the tunnel.
The Tunnel Log was a giant sequoia that fell in 1937, with 6.5m in diameter at its base and 83.82m in height!
9) CRESCENT MEADOW E THARP’S LOG – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
This beautiful meadow is located 2.5km after the parking entrance to Moro Rock. John Muir, a conservationist, considered it a very special place.
It will take you about 1h to walk the trail around the meadow.
It is on this trail that you will find Tharp’s Log, a hut built out of a hollowed-out sequoia, by the first non-American Indian to settle in the area. It dates back to 1860 and is the oldest pioneer hut in the park. It is 2.5 km from the Crescent Meadow car park.
We only visited it in our first time.
If it is necessary to choose, we consider the Big Trees Trail more beautiful and easier to access.
The Crescent Meadow Trail is classified as easy, child-friendly. It is a loop with about 2.6km and 46m elevation gain.
10) BIG TREES TRAIL – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Go back to Generals Highway and stop in the parking lot of the Giant Forest Museum. Enjoy and visit it. It’s free and very interesting.
In front of the museum you will see the amazing Sentinel sequoia. On the ground, make sure to find and walk on the marking height of this gigantic tree. Only then you will have a vague idea of its size. When you look up, it is difficult to have a clear notion of how tall they are.
The Big Trees Trail is classified as easy, paved and surrounds the Round Meadow. It is 2.6 km long and starts to the left of the museum. The only part with some inclination is next to the parking lot and the museum. The altitude gain is about 18m only.
For us, this trail was very special. We consider ourselves blessed to see the animals that we found there. Already at the beginning, we came across a deer and her newborn. He barely walked. We do not even breathe so as not to disturb them.
Then we came across a condo of marmots. Yes! There was a bumpy sequoia with several marmots dwelling in it. They were looking at us, as curious as us, at the “windows.” Loved it !!!
Then we walked calmly around the meadow. And it was awesome! It is a very rich place and the animals love it, because is a source of water and food. Do not even think about stepping off the tracks. The damage would be gigantic.
11) GENERAL SHERMAN TRAIL – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Yes! The General Sherman Sequoia is the largest living being on the planet. It’s wonderful. It is the number 1 attraction in the park. People queue to take photos and it is certainly the most crowded place for visitors to Sequoia California National Park. We admired the giant tree, took some pictures but did not stay long.
General Sherman, which is the largest living thing in the world, is 83.82m high and 31.27m in circumference at ground level. And it keeps growing! See the proportion of people in relation to your base in the photo above.
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACT: GENERAL SHERMAN IS NOT THE HIGHEST NOR THE WIDEST TREE IN THE WORLD, BUT THE LARGEST IN VOLUME! AND IT HAS APPROXIMATELY 2,200 YEARS!
Don’t get satisfied with the General Sherman sequoia! There are much more things to do in Sequoia National Park! Get rid of the crowd and go for a walk on the Congress Trail. You can’t miss.
ABOUT THE TRAIL:
General Sherman Trail is 1.6km round-trip from the parking lot.
Be aware that the first parking lot you will see is only for people with special needs with the specific permit in the car. You’ll drive a few more miles to the conventional parking lot, where the trail starts.
On the way back from the Congress Trail, if you are very tired, take the free bus in the first parking lot (disabilities). You will save a reasonable time and your legs.
THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK FACTS: THE GENERAL SHERMAN SEQUOIA WEIGHTS MORE THAN 1.200 TONS!
If you plan to hike the Congress Trail, photograph the map placed in the parking lot so you do not get lost.
12) CONGRESS TRAIL – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Very beautiful and easy hike. Well worth it. It has numerous attractions.
One of the first stops is to admire the third largest tree in the world, known as “The President”. There will still be many other gorgeous groups like “The House” and “The Senate”. They are identified with name plates, some with explanations.
We took the opportunity to rest on a fallen sequoia. Delightful! Luiza and I lay down, looking up at the sky and enjoying the grandeur of the place. In addition, we found the smoothness of the tree and the designs formed on its surface incredible.
ABOUT THE TRAIL
The Congress Trail is a nearly all-paved loop, with about 3.2km in lenght, 60m elevation gain, which leaves from the General Sherman Trail.
They say this is a perfect trail to find bears and deers. We did not see any …
13) LODGEPOLE VILLAGE – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
This was our last stop. At Lodgepole Village you can grab a snack or buy souvenirs from this wonderful tour. For sure an unforgettable day in the life of those who visit this magical place, where you feel like an ant in the land of giants!
14) ACTIVITIES – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Besides the magnificent hikes, you can do horseback riding, rafting, camping, mountain biking and climbing.
15) THE POWER OF FIRE – THINGS TO DO IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Yes! For a giant sequoia to reproduce, the fire is needed! And for more than one reason! If there are many leaves and small plants on the ground, the seeds do not come into contact with the soil, not coming in contact with moisture and nutrients. And without the heat of the fire, the pine cone containing the seeds does not open.
For years, the park completely avoided any fire. As a result, no new sequoia was found. Then they started to carry out controlled fires and with that the forest is being reborn.
Of course it can not be a wildfire that would destroy the entire forest.
You can see throughout the Sequoia National Park California the black marks of fire in several trees.
Where o find out more about things to do in Sequoia National Park: https://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm
16) MORE PLACES TO VISIT IN THE UNITED STATES
See you soon!!