Article overview: Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is located deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and holds a very special place in my heart. There’s nothing quite like looking up at a magnificent giant Sequoia Tree and realizing how small we actually are.
While the park is home to many giant sequoia trees, it also offers expansive views of the Sierras, countless trails to explore, and even a hidden cave tour.
Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet, the park contains the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level.
In this article, I’ll share some of my favorite things to do in Sequoia National Park as well as a few helpful tidbits for your visit.
As a quick note of caution, the park did experience two large wildfires last year. We’re so incredibly thankful to the firefighters who worked so hard to save as much of the park as they could.
However, a large portion of the area surrounding the Three Rivers entrance was destroyed. Thankfully, the Giant Forest got away mostly unscathed.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to plan a trip full of the best things to do at Sequoia National Park.
Table of Contents: Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
- About My Travels to Sequoia National Park
- Things to Know Before You Visit Sequoia National Park
- Best Time to Visit Sequoia National Park
- Where to Stay at Sequoia National Park
- Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
- Top 20 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
- Top 15 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
- Top 10 Best Things to Do at Sequoia
- Top 5 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
- Map of Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
- Sequoia National Park Fun Facts
- Summary of Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
About My Travels to Sequoia National Park
Those who know me know that Sequoia National Park is one of my favorite national parks. I’ve been known to go on endlessly about the grandeur of the giant forests and the magic of walking amidst these groves of ancient trees.
Sequoia is where I proposed to my wife years ago in the midst of heavy snow that closed many roads and trails.
Sequoias are almost other-worldly in their immense size and beauty, rare ambassadors of an ancient past when nature was king and man’s influence on the natural world was still held in check.
Today these trees are outliers not only for their size, age, and singular majesty, but because forests, as we’ve long known them, are dying all around the planet and even the mighty sequoia is no match for human-caused climate fires.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
Things to Know Before You Visit Sequoia National Park
$15 per vehicle OR if you plan to visit more National Parks within the next 12 months I suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.
Use it. Lots of it. Especially this one which I never leave the house without because it plays nice with our dear friend, earth 🙂
Fuel up fully before you get into the park. Drive times are longer than you might assume because there are no through roads. Drive times from some destinations can be hours apart. More on drive times below.
Cell Service is spotty in the park but there is reception here and there.
The Best Map: I like this map best for Sequoia National Park.
Drink it. Lots of it. Don’t forget it in the car.
Best Time to Visit Sequoia National Park
The Best Time to Visit Sequoia National Park is August through October when temperatures are generally mild and weather is favorable. Wildfires are still a major risk during this time period so make sure your plans are flexible and have a plan in the event they impact your visit.
Restaurants & Food Options
Food options are available in the Sequoia area with a total of seven possible dining options spread throughout the park. The Wuksachi Lodge offers fine dining while other lodges and areas offer more casual options. Visit the park website for more information on food options in the park.
Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
Top 20 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
16. Big Trees Trail
I figured we’d kick this list off with one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park (and one of my personal favorites).
The Big Trees Trail is one of the most scenic and memorable places in Sequoia featuring massive, ancient old-growth sequoia trees from a boardwalk loop. This trail is great for folks of all ages and almost totally flat.
The far end of the trail is the most picturesque with some zig-zagging that allows for really beautiful photos and epic views of these gentle giants.
Top 15 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
15. Alta Peak
This trail is for the experienced hiker looking for things to do in Sequoia National Park. It’s rated hard with a length of 14.9 miles with an elevation gain of 4064 feet.
Many people choose to spread the hike out over two days and backpack along the way. This trail is located through the Wolverton parking lot.
The trail is exposed off and on throughout. The wildflowers along the way are beautiful. Keep an eye out for marmots scurrying about through the rocks. They’re nosy and will poke their heads out to see you.
With this hike, depending on the time of year, you may encounter snow. With the high elevation of the peak and temperature drop, snow can last throughout the summer. Bring crampons and trekking poles just in case as well as clothing layers for the varying temperatures.
14. Tunnel Log
Perhaps one of the most unique things to do in Sequoia National Park is to drive through a tree. This enormous Sequoia fell to the ground In 1937. Rather than trying to move it, workers cut a hole in it big enough for a car to drive through.
Tunnel log has a height of 8 feet high and a width of 17 feet. So make sure your vehicle is under those size specifications.
Oversized buses and camper vans have been known to try and drive through only to back out and maneuver around the other cars waiting their turn. Don’t be that person.
13. Giant Forest Museum
If you’re a history buff, one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park is to make a stop at the Giant Forest Museum. Not only is it full of historical information, but the building itself is a historical landmark and was built in 1928.
Within the museum, you’ll learn all about how Sequoias were chopped down to be transported to the World’s Fair in 1876. The stump of the transported tree was named the Centennial Stump. You can still see it in the park. The stump is so wide, that people used to dance on top of it.
The museum is located off of the General’s Highway and marked with a clear sign for the turn-off.
12. Little Baldy
The Little Baldy Trail is a moderate 3.3 mile with a 739 foot elevation gain. It’s quite steep to the top, but the view is spectacular. If you’re a climber looking for things to do in Sequoia National Park, Little Baldy happens to be a popular climbing destination. It’s located off of the General’s Highway.
This area was impacted by the fire, but maintenance crews cleaned and restored the trail. Just know, part of the time, you will be walking through a burn scar. Due to this, I wouldn’t recommend this trail during any sort of rain in case of mudslides.
11. Moro Rock
If you’re after a 360-degree view of the Sierra Nevadas, then this is one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park. It’s a moderate half-mile hike with an elevation gain of 177 feet.
You’ll ascend granite steps up the side of the rock until finally, you reach the top. The steps are steep and the path can be a bit narrow in places, but overall the view is well worth it. Parking can be tough, so I’d recommend getting there early or utilizing the free shuttle system that picks up at the Giant Forest Museum parking lot.
Moro Rock is located off of the General’s Highway on the way up to General Sherman.
Top 10 Best Things to Do at Sequoia
10. Hanging Rock
Arguably, the hanging rock trail is the less popular brother to Moro Rock. It’s not near as popular and yet offers a pretty similar view. This half-mile hike is ranked as easy with an elevation gain of 111 feet.
You’ll actually have a fantastic view of Moro Rock’s granite dome from this vantage point. Similarly, this trail is also not for those with a fear of heights.
But I’d say this is one of my favorite underrated things to do in Sequoia National Park. Take note, that parking is limited because it actually shares the same lot as the Moro Rock trail.
9. Marble Falls Trail
If a day hike is on your list of things to do in Sequoia National Park, then be sure to check out the Marble Falls Trail. It’s a moderate 7.8 mile hike with a significant elevation gain of 1,499 feet. Access to the trail is found in the Potwisha Campground.
This trail has a lot of exposure, meaning a lot of areas without shade. Because of that, it’s best to start early in the morning. I’d also argue that hiking boots are necessary for this hike for traction purposes. There are some narrow parts on the trail and some steep edges, so you’ll want all the traction you can get. The area also has a lot of brush, so long pants are also recommended.
Overall though, the view of the falls is spectacular and the perfect place to sit in the shade and enjoy some lunch. Bring lots of water and sunscreen.
Sequoia offers incredible stargazing opportunities thanks to its high elevations. It can be a pretty incredible sight to look up and behold the milky way filtered through thousand-year-old giant trees.
The park also offers ranger led-stargazing opportunities that are always fun for the whole family. Be sure to check out he park website for more information on those.
7. Beetle Rock
If a beautiful sunset view is on your list of things to do in Sequoia National Park, then be sure to check out Beetle Rock. This granite dome offers an expansive view across the entire park. Personally, I like to get an early start and skip the crowds by watching the sunrise from up here.
Regardless of going for sunrise or sunset, bring a headlamp or flashlight for safety. It’s also a great mid-afternoon picnic spot. It’s located behind the Beetle Rock Educational Center.
6. Tokopah Falls
Tokopah Falls is not on a lot of folks lists of things to do in Sequoia National Park because it’s doesn’t have the tall trees. Don’t let that stop you!
This is considered a moderate 4 mile hike with an elevation gain of 639 feet. Really I’d consider the first 90% of the hike quite easy, but closer to the falls, the remaining 10% is fairly difficult.
This is one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park during the spring and early summer months when the waterfalls are still flowing. It can be accessed through the Lodgepole Camp Ground.
Due to the drought, the water almost comes to a stop once all of the snow runoff has melted. So while the hike is still beautiful, don’t expect a big waterfall in the fall or winter. Also, be sure to bring bug spray. The mosquitos can tend to run rampant on this trail in the spring and summer.
Top 5 Best Things to Do at Sequoia National Park
5. Crystal Caves Tour
Taking a cave tour is probably one of the most unexpected things to do in Sequoia National Park. First and foremost, take note that tickets for the tour are only available for purchase at the visitor centers. You cannot buy tickets at the actual cave.
More information on visiting the cave and buying tickets here.
There are also several different tours offered. One tour is a simple walking tour on a man-made path perfect for the whole family. The other tour requires crawling through tighter areas in the cave.
I’m not one for tight spaces, so I cannot attest to that tour. But I have done the family-friendly one and enjoyed it a lot.
The cave is made out of marble and boasts incredible stalactites. It is quite chilly inside compared to the ground above, so I’d recommend bringing some sort of a jacket.
You’ll see the turn-off for this trail on your way up the General’s Highway. The turn-off is clearly marked with a sign that says “Crystal Cave Road.”
4. Kings Canyon National Park
There’s some confusion out there about whether Sequoia and Kings Canyon are separate national parks, they are. But they are co-managed. So we’re throwing Kings Canyon on this list to make sure you get over to Sequoia’s sister park and do a little exploring if you have time.
Kings Canyon is spectacular in it’s own right with some of the best views of the Sierras found anywhere. The park has a number of great overlooks as well as some serious hiking trails for those looking to do some backcountry trips.
3. Congress Trail
Ready for my personal favorite thing to do in Sequoia National Park? As you’re heading to the General Sherman Tree, you’ll see a wooden sign that says “Congress Trail.”
This is a 2.7 mile round trip paved path through the Giant Forest and the rest of General Sherman’s Sequoia grove. Other notable trees within the grove include the McKinley Tree, General Lee, and the President Tree.
An interesting fact about Sequoia trees is that for being such large trees, their roots are actually quite shallow. However, their roots spread with and intertwine with the other nearby Sequoias to form a sort of chain. This provides them with the stability they need to stay standing.
Because their roots are so shallow, they’re considered very fragile. So while you’re exploring Congress Trail or any part of the park with Sequoias, it’s important to stay on the trail and protect their roots.
2. Muir Grove
If seeing Sequoias without all of the crowds is on your list of things to do in Sequoia National Park, then this is the hike for you. It’s a 4 mile moderate hike with an elevation gain of 462 feet.
You’ll reach the Muir Grove towards the end of the hike and trust me, it’s an incredible thing to see.
The Muir Grove trail is accessed through the Dorst Campground. Depending on the time of year, the campground may be closed, which means you’d park outside of the campground and walk in. The hike is well worth it, but this does add about an additional 2 miles to the total of the hike.
1. General Sherman Tree
No trip to Sequoia National Park is complete without a trip to see the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman Tree.
Will there be plenty of other tourists there? Yes, and why wouldn’t they be? Thanks to the National Park Service visitors are afforded the opportunity to lookup and ponder the existence of such a massive living being.
In the summer months the General Sherman Tree area is quite crowded and parking can be hard to come by, but in the fall and winter seasons (if the weather is cooperative) you’ll see far fewer crowds and have the opportunity to explore the area without any hustle or bustle.
NOTE: Please be respectful and help others to be respectful of this area and the worlds largest tree. The General Sherman Tree along with the rest of the park are every Americans birthright and we need to do our part to make sure these giants continue to last for generations. So please stay on marked trails and always heed park signs and fences.
Map of Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park has five distinct regions you should be aware of while planning your trip. Despite being relatively close to each other on the map, drive times between each of these regions can be significant.
The reason? There’s no road across the top of the mountain meaning you’ve got to drive around it which can take a long time.
Sequoia National Park Fun Facts
How tall is the tallest Sequoia Tree?
The tallest Giant Sequoia is 316 feet tall which is taller than a 30 story building!
How Old is the General Sherman Tree?
The General Sherman Tree is roughly 2,200 years old. This means it was sprouting out of the ground around 180 B.C.
Why are Sequoias so large?
According to Save The Redwoods, “Giant Sequoia grow so large because they live a very long time and grow quickly. To thrive, giant sequoia require a great amount of water, which they primarily receive from the Sierra snowpack that accumulates over the winter months and soaks into the ground when it melts.”
When is the Best Time To Visit Sequoia National Park?
The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is August – October when temperatures are typically mild and crowds have thinned out. Beware of wildfires during this time though.
Summary of Things to Do in Sequoia National Park
- The General Sherman Tree
- Muir Grove
- Congress Trail
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Crystal Caves
- Tokopah Falls
- Beetle Rock
- Marble Falls Trail
- Hanging Rock
- Moro Rock
- Little Baldy
- Giant Forest Museum
- Tunnel Log
- Alta Peak
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