I like big trees and I cannot lie.🎵 Ahem. A Sequoia National Park visit is mesmerizing! With larger-than-life nature, there’s so many things to do in Sequoia National Park. This guide will walk you through the highlights you won’t want to miss!
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Due to its location, many people only have one day in Sequoia National Park in California, because they combine this park with a trip to Kings Canyon and even Yosemite. So to maximize your time, this is the perfect Sequoia National Park itinerary, and how to make the most of just one day in the park.
You’ve likely seen photos of the main attractions like the General Sherman Tree, but this park has so much more to offer!
This guide walks you through exactly what to do on a Sequoia National Park visit, including how best to spend your time, nearby places to stay, what you’ll need to pack for the park and other tips.
Of course if you have time, you can spend another day (or more) exploring all the best things to do in Kings Canyon National Park, which is adjacent to Sequoia. Some people try to see both parks in the same day, which is possible if you want an action-packed day to see the main highlights of both.
Let’s dive in!
Must-see video: Sequoia National Park visit
Map of things to do in Sequoia National Park in a day
Just an hour away from Visalia or Fresno, California, a visit to this amazing park is perfect for a long getaway or combined with a longer tour of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Use this map to help plan your day in the park. Pinch and zoom to see the surrounding areas. The timeline below is the most efficient use of your time so this map will help you visualize what one day in Sequoia National Park looks like.
📍The land that makes up Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the surrounding area was originally inhabited by the Paiute, Westerns Shoshone, Monache, Yokuts and Tübatulabal peoples. Unfortunately, they were forced out by white people in the 1800’s. Please be mindful when visiting this sacred area and treat it with respect.
Best time to visit Sequoia National Park
When planning a trip to Sequoia National Park, consider the weather, typical crowds and how much time you have to spend exploring the park. Here’s a brief explanation of what you can expect by the season.
- Sequoia in the spring can be a fabulous time in the park! The wildflowers are blooming and crowds are reduced compared to the summer months. It’s one of the best times to visit!
- Summer in Sequoia National Park means full access to road, hiking trails and attractions. It’s the busiest time in the park for tourism, so to avoid crowds try going during the week and definitely not on holidays.
- Fall is another gorgeous time to visit Sequoia National Park. Bring bug spray as the park gets buggier in later summer and early fall, but overall with less visitors it’s a very enjoyable time to explore the park.
- Winter is magical in Sequoia National Park. The contrast from the orange bark of the trees to the fresh white snow is an incredible sight! The roads are typically open during the park, although for up-to-date road info, visit this website.
So while there’s probably not a terrible time, you can use these recommendations to figure out your best time to visit Sequoia National Park!
Things to do in Sequoia National Park in one day
What an epic park! This guide takes you through the perfect Sequoia National Park itinerary. And because it’s nice to have options, there’s a few alternatives, too.
Note this is an action-packed itinerary. Build in extra time for long lines, or if you’re traveling with kids things always take longer!
Now let’s get to it!
Drive Generals Highway
Estimated time: 1 hour
Schedule: 8:00am – 9:00am
Start off seeing the park in one of the very best ways with beautiful scenery! Whether you’re coming from the west in Fresno or the south from Visalia, Generals Highway is the infamous highway that leads you through the park. It also connects Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks together.
This is considered one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park because there’s so many stops along the way. On the southern part of Generals Highway is Tunnel Rock and several lookout points to see the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.
If you’re entering the park through the northern entrance, closer to Fresno, you’ll actually enter through Kings Canyon National Park and drive south towards Sequoia. You’ll love seeing the groves of Sequoia Trees along the way, until you get to the park’s main attractions.
Since this is the first part of your day and a necessary condition of getting to the park’s most prominent features, you’ll want to estimate at least an hour, maybe more if you make a lot of stops.
See the General Sherman Tree (one of the best things to do in Sequoia National Park)
Estimated time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Schedule: 9:00am – 10:00am
Located just off the Generals Highway, the General Sherman Tree is a Sequoia National Park must see!
Fun fact: the General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world by volume. This is measured by the size of the trunk. There are trees around the world that are bigger around, or taller, but none has more wood.
The top of the General Sherman Tree is dead so it no longer gets taller. However the trunk grows wider – at 109 feet around, and getting bigger each year. It’s estimated to be 2,200 years old!
Note that if you’re planning a Sequoia National Park visit in the summer, it’s a short hike to get to the General Sherman Tree. The parking lot closest to the tree is strictly for accessible parking, so everyone else is required to use the parking lot about 0.5 miles away.
At an elevation of over 7,000 feet, the way down to the General Sherman Tree is paved and easy. Coming back there’s quite a few steps and gradual incline with thin air, so pace yourself. It reminds me of hiking the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park – the elevation is higher than you think!
There’s more to see along the General Sherman Tree Trail. Many other large Sequoia Trees are in the area, making it a fun spot to explore. Depending on how long the lines are when you visit and how many photos you want to take, visiting this area could take you an hour or two.
Be sure to visit the ‘Tough Twins’ which are located near the General Sherman Tree. This is direct evidence that these massive trees heal themselves after fires.
These scars from fires cause the uneven shape in the trees. How incredible!
Hike Congress Trail (one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park)
Estimated time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Schedule: 10:00 – 11:30am
Located as an off-shoot to the General Sherman Tree Trail, Congress Trail is a must if you want to see large groves of Sequoias. This hike is rated as easy at 2.9 miles and with 462 feet in elevation gain.
It’s a perfect part of a Sequoia National Park itinerary. With areas like the ‘President,’ ‘House’ and ‘Senate,’ these groups of Sequoia trees are quite impressive!
This is a paved hike, so it’s not too difficult. Although I always recommend hiking shoes for extra ankle support and comfort, this trail can be done fairly easily most of the year. It’s a great hike for kids and adults alike!
I especially liked this trail because it was far less crowded than the area near the General Sherman Tree, or Moro Rock for that matter.
Enjoy lunch in the park
Estimated time: 1 hour
Schedule: 12:00 – 1:00pm
This is a great time to grab lunch if you’ve brought a picnic lunch. Otherwise, you can grab some light fare at the Lodgepole Cafe, which is typically open mid-April through mid-October.
There’s even a Lodgepole picnic area near the Lodgpole Market, which is a great spot to enjoy a good lunch and rest your legs a bit.
Note: my experience in most national parks is to come prepared. That includes bringing enough food!
And if you’ve just finished hiking, you’ll need to refuel your body. There was some food available in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, but be prepared for anything.
Sequoia National Park itinerary continued
You’e just over half way through the day, and there’s still so many more things to do at Sequoia National Park. Let’s keep going!
Sequoia National Park visit option: Crystal Cave or Tokopah Falls
Estimated time: up to 2 hours
Schedule: 1:00 – 3:00
Did you know Sequoia is not only home to oversized trees, but also has waterfalls and a cave? With only one day in Sequoia National Park, you probably won’t have time to do everything. You could choose the one that sounds the most intriguing to you!
Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park
Taking a Crystal Cave Tour is a highlight of the park if you love unique experiences! Located about 30 minutes from the Giant Forest Museum and Crescent Meadow, you’ll want a reservation in advance because tickets cannot be purchased in the park.
Crystal Cave reservations made at least 2 days advance, a few weeks in advance is better though to secure your spot. It’s a 45 minute tour. You’ll want hiking boots for traction since the cave floor is slick, and a jacket or light layer year-round, since the cave is cool.
Tokopah Falls, one of the best hiking trails on a Sequoia National Park visit
The Tokopah Falls hike is a little more off-the-beaten-path, but is still one of the top things to do at Sequoia National Park. Coming in at 3.8 miles and rated as moderate, this trail gains 626 feet in elevation.
This out-and-back trail takes you to the beautiful Tokopah Falls. You’ll want to do this trail in late spring or summer though, as the falls tend to run dry by September and October.
Perhaps just as fun as the waterfall are the changing views along the way. Hike along a river with beautiful meadows with wildflowers.
There’s even pools for swimming on this hike, so be prepared by carrying your water shoes in your backpack for a quick swap. This reminded me of the Avalanche Lake Trail in Glacier because we took a break from hiking shoes with water shoes in the cool water. So refreshing!
Hike Moro Rock (a must-see on this Sequoia National Park itinerary)
Estimated time: up to 1 hour
Schedule: 3:00 – 4:00pm
Located in the Giant Forest Grove, Moro Rock is one of the best things to do during a Sequoia National Park visit!
This 1/2 mile up-and-back climb is just literally steps on a massive granite rock. It’s rated as a moderate trail because it’s just over 350 vertical stairs to the top. Get your thighs ready!
Once you’re at the top, you’ll get stunning, 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains! There’s a great lookout point and photo op at the top, stating your claim that you’ve made it.🤣
Because it’s one of the best hikes in Sequoia National Park, be aware that during weekends and the summer, this trail can get very crowded! Be prepared to spend just a small amount of time at the summit considering there’s not a lot of room and many others want to grab their photos, too.
Note: if you’re visiting on a weekend in the summer or holiday weekend, the NPS closes the road to traffic and offers a shuttle to all visitors. You can review the shuttle schedule here.
Visit Crescent Meadow
Estimated time: up to 1 hour
Schedule: 4:00 – 5:00pm
One of the most popular spots and the best things to do in Sequoia National Park is Crescent Meadow. This is where you’ll find Tunnel Log, the fallen Sequoia Tree that you can drive through with smaller vehicles.
If you go during the summer weekend or a holiday weekend, the shuttle service will be running so instead of driving you’ll be able to walk under Tunnel Log. It’s a favorite for kids and adults alike!
Near Tunnel Log is the Crescent Meadow Loop. This is an easy, fun hike, and worth your time if you have more than one day in Sequoia National Park. It’s 1.3 miles and offers stunning views, which often include wildlife sightings. Remember to keep that bear spray handy!
Bonus activity: Giant Forest Museum
Learn the history of the Sequoia Trees and Sierra Nevada Mountains at the Giant Forest Museum. The interactive displays are very informational and provide insights to the landscape and nature throughout the park.
The Giant Forest Museum offers a gift shop too, where you can purchase souvenirs from the park.
Open spring through fall, the Giant Forest Museum is a way to slow down and enjoy the park from a different perspective. This should take about 30 minutes.
Sequoia National Park visit: additional things to do
It’s nice to have options, right? Well here are some ideas for how to spend your time and other best hiking trails in Sequoia National Park…
- Crescent Meadows Loop. Easy trail at just 1.3 miles with awesome views.
- Hanging Rock. Near Morrow Rock, this 0.5 mile trail takes you to a precariously perched rock.
- Little Baldy Trail. Another 360-degree views of the mountains, this 3.3 mile hike is a fun one!
- Big Trees Trail. Perfectly ADA friendly trail through a Sequoia grove, at just 1.2 miles.
- Ranger-led stargazing and other park opportunities. These are available Memorial Day through Labor Day and vary.
Of course, if you have time you could hop over to see the amazing things to do in Kings Canyon National Park, which is immediately adjacent to Sequoia NP. Here’s a few highlights:
- General Grant Tree. Tallest Sequoia Tree on earth!
- Panoramic Point Overlook Trail. At just 0.5 miles, this quick walk takes you to a stunning view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
- Grizzly Falls and Roaring River Falls. Both along the scenic drive through the canyon.
And if you’re looking for a fun adventure from Sequoia, check out this list of the best RV vacations, which includes Sequoia to Monterey, CA via Big Sur. So fun!
Before finishing this Sequoia National Park itinerary and guide, let’s go through a few more details that will help you plan your trip.
Where to stay near Sequoia National Park
This park in the heart of California has many options for accommodations. Whether you’re at one with nature while camping, or prefer the security of four walls around you, here are a few options if you don’t have your arrangements made yet.
Camping near Sequoia National Park
Immerse yourself in nature with these giant trees nearby. Here are a few camping options in and near the park.
- Lodgepole Campground. Located in the park near all the action, this campground is for tent camping only. Be bear aware here and be sure to use the park’s latched storage boxes for storing food.
- Dorst Creek Campground. Also in the park, this campground has spots for RV or tent camping. Be sure to book 4 months in advance as spaces are limited.
- Sequoia Resort and RV Park. Located just outside the northern entrance of the park, this RV campground has more amenities than a park campground and doesn’t fill up as fast.
Hotels near Sequoia
If you’d like a little more structure to your stay, consider these accommodations located near Visalia and Fresno.
- Sierra Nevada Mountain Retreat. This vacation home is perfect for families or those looking for a bit more space, yet close to the southern entrance of the park.
- Best Western Exeter Inn & Suites. Budget-friendly with a pool, this hotel is in Visalia with convenient access to restaurants and the park, too.
- Wonder Valley Ranch Resort. Close to the north entrance to the park, this ranch offers multiple sizes for various groups in a peaceful setting.
What to pack for your Sequoia National Park visit
Before we wrap this guide up, there are some important items you’ll want to bring to while exploring the places to visit in Sequoia National Park. These essentials will make your stay more enjoyable!
- Hiking shoes and hiking socks. If you’re planning to step foot off a lookout and onto a trial, you’ll want comfy hiking shoes for support and grip. Don’t forget the hiking socks, either. I learned the hard way while exploring the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park. Blisters aren’t fun.🙃
- Hiking backpack and trekking poles. These are a game changer for exploring this country’s national parks! A hiking backpack magically takes the weight of carrying water, snacks and the 10 essentials off your shoulders, while trekking poles assist you on inclines and declines.
- Satellite communicator. For yourself or anyone else you come across who may need help on the trail, this two-way communication device lets you call for help when there’s no cell service, like in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks!
- Snacks and food. Don’t rely on the park visitor centers for nutrition. Sometimes they’re out of stock or closed. Bring enough food and to nourish you throughout the day just in case. I love trail mix or beef jerky for protein while hiking.
- Collapsible cooler. This helps store your food and drinks and keep them cold in your vehicle while you’re exploring the park. It folds down to a manageable size for travel, too.
- Water, water, water. Regardless of the time of year, you’ll want to stay hydrated. Bring some full, reusable water bottles to start your day and use the water filling stations (available seasonally). Or put ice and water in a hydration system for your hiking backpack.
Sequoia National Park visit in one day (recap)
Sequoia National Park is so much fun to explore. Between the massive trees, impressive hikes, Sierra Nevada views and fun activities for all ages, Sequoia National Park is full of exciting things to do whether you have just one day or a long weekend.
Here’s a recap!
Sequoia National Park itinerary
- 8:00am drive Generals Highway
- 9:00am see General Sherman Tree
- 10:00am hike Congress Trail
- 12:00pm lunch in the park
- 1:00pm Crystal Cave or Tokopah Falls
- 3:00pm hike Moro Rock
- 4:00pm visit Crescent Meadow
- 5:00pm optional activities or short swing into Kings Canyon National Park
Add in a few bonuses or alternative activities above, and you’ve got your customized Sequoia National Park itinerary! Have fun exploring this amazing park!
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