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Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park: Which is the Better Park for You?

Planning a trip to California’s national parks? With massive Sequoia trees and incredible views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, you’re going to have a great time. But in the battle of Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park – who wins?

Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park view of mountains in distance with rocks and evergreen trees on sunny day
Incredible views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains😍

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That’s a great question! Which national park is worthy of your time? Whether you’re traveling as a family, couple, solo or with friends, there’s so much to consider!

With awesome hiking opportunities, waterfalls, canyon views and larger-than-imaginable trees, you really can’t go wrong. Any season in these parks are magical, and considering they’re some of the best national parks to visit during summer, consider them to be busy especially during peak travel season.

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are right next to each other, connected by the Generals Highway. They are 2 separate parks (although managed together), and both worth visiting.

But seriously, one of these parks HAS to win in the battle of Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park!

Let’s dive in.

Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon has expansive views of an impressive canyon, meanwhile Sequoia National Park features larger groves of incredible Sequoia trees. Of course there’s views of Sequoia trees and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in both parks, but in a battle of Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park, each are unique in their own way.

Let’s see who wins this epic battle by breaking the parks down by category. This will help you determine a winner based on what you’re looking for in a park, and it will ultimately help you decide which to spend more time in.

Must-see video: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

📍Note: the land that makes up today’s Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks was originally inhabited by the Paiute, Westerns Shoshone, Monache, Yokuts and Tübatulabal peoples. They were forced out by white people in the 1800’s. Please be mindful when visiting this sacred area and treat it with respect.

Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Parks: best scenery

Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park view of walking trail through giant sequoia trees with fence and dirt path
Walking through the General Grant Grove in Kings Canyon

Let’s first compare the 2 parks on the overall best scenery.

You absolutely cannot talk about visiting these national parks without talking about the oversized Sequoia trees! Standing next to one of these giant trees really puts it into perspective the massive size.

Fun fact: both Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks have groves of Sequoia trees!

You’ll get more groves of Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park (6 vs 4), so if the trees are what you’re looking for, then Sequoia is right for you.

If you’re looking for incredible scenic views beyond a tree right in front of you, then consider Kings Canyon. Massive canyon views greet you from many areas of the park, and areas that don’t require hiking to find them. If impressive, expansive space is what you’re looking for, then Kings Canyon is right for you.

In this comparison, it’s a tie. It really depends on what you want to see and do in the parks.

If you love epic scenery, then you definitely need to check out the battle of Maui vs Kauai – so stunning!

Unique features

sequoia tree on its side with hole cut for cars and sign reading tunnel log with trees in background
Famous Tunnel Log in Sequoia National Park

There are plenty of things to do in Kings Canyon National Park and during a Sequoia National Park visit. Let’s talk about some of the unique features of each park.

Kings Canyon National Park highlights:

  • General Grant Tree (tallest Sequoia Tree in the world)
  • Kings Canyon (deepest canyon in the US at 8,200 feet)
  • Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
  • Boyden Cave
  • Zumwalt Meadow
  • Hume Lake
  • Multiple waterfalls and river views
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Grizzly Falls, Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia National Park highlights:

  • General Sherman Tree (largest tree by volume in the world)
  • Moro Rock with 360 degree views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Generals Highway
  • Tunnel Log
  • Crystal Cave
  • Giant Forest Museum
  • Crescent Meadow Road

Both parks offer unique and similar features, but honestly they’re both worth a visit! It’s possible to do Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in one day, but you definitely won’t see everything these incredible parks have to offer.

In this comparison, it’s another tie!

Best hikes: Kings Canyon vs Sequoia

hiking path in kings canyon national park with trees and forest greenery
Hiking Lewis Creek Trail in Kings Canyon

Hiking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park: this category is a tough one to rate!

If we’re going by the number of visitors who take a hike/walking path to see something cool, then the Giant Forest Loop Trail in Sequoia beats the General Grant Tree Trail in Kings Canyon. Both of these are paved walking paths that are family friendly, and fully accessible by wheelchairs.

If you’re going by the highest reviews on the ‘most popular’ non-paved hike in each park, then the Tokopah Falls Trail in Sequoia National Park wins. Coming in at 3.8 miles and ranked as moderate, this waterfall hike is best done in spring or early summer, when you’ll see the most flowing water.

The most volume of reviews of any trail in Kings Canyon is the Mist Falls Trail. This moderate hike comes in at 7.8 miles and is known for bear sightings in addition to a gorgeous waterfall. Be sure to pack your bear spray!

In this category of Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia wins by simply volume of visits and reviews.

Pricing: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

california meadow green grass and forest on sunny day
Beautiful meadows in Sequoia National Park

The entrance fee is the same for both Sequoia and Kings Canyon: $35 per vehicle per park.

Although if you’re planning to visit Yosemite, Channel Islands, Redwood National Parks or literally any other national park within a 12-month timeframe, you’ll want to get an America the Beautiful Pass.

My family uses our pass every year, like when we visited Zion with kids, checked out all the things to do in Glacier National Park, spent one day in Arches, and so many more adventures!

Although these parks are right next to each other, they’re separate and both require their own entrance fee.

In this category, it’s a tie!


Let’s break this category down based on how easy it is to get to each national park, then how accessible it is to navigate within of these parks.

How to get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Kings Canyon National Park is about 1 hour from Fresno, California.

The Kings Canyon entrance on Highway 180 is the main entrance, and is a straight shot from Fresno, California. If you’re looking for a hotel near the park, this is a great spot to stay overnight.

The 2nd entrance to Kings Canyon is from the south on Generals Highway, which also happens to be connected to Sequoia National Park.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park hiking path with people walking on it with dirt sides and trees ahead
Short walk to Panoramic Point, Kings Canyon NP

Sequoia National Park is about 45 minutes from Visalia, California.

The southern entrance to Sequoia National Park is from Highway 198/Sierra Drive. If you want to stay near Sequoia National Park, this is the town you’re looking for.

The 2nd entrance to Sequoia National Park is from the north part of the park on Generals Highway, which is closer to the Kings Canyon entrance and Fresno, California.

In this category, it’s a tie!

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park – accessibility within the parks

pavement and benches surrounded by sequoia trees with people walking
Walking the Giant Forest in Sequoia NP

Both parks have many areas that are wheelchair accessible and great for strollers. Let’s start with one of the main attractions in both parks…

In Sequoia, the path to General Sherman Tree is fully paved. During the summer, the entire lower parking lot is for handicap parking. However, if you have a stroller you’ll have to take it down the 212 feet and back up, mostly on steps. The other seasons both parking lots are generally open to everyone.

In Kings Canyon, the path to General Grant Tree is fully paved from start to finish. There’s an area where kids (and young-at-heart adults) can climb through these giant Sequoia trees, which is not paved or ADA complaint. However this trail is fully accessible with a large parking lot.

The Generals Highway and Kings Canyon Scenic Byway both offer views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains with pull-outs along the way. Kings Canyon seems to have more stops than Sequoia.

Parking lots seem to be structured better within Kings Canyon, likely because the trees are less dense in this park so it certainly feels like it’s more convenient access to visitor centers and other amenities.

In this category, Kings Canyon wins!

Which is more family friendly – Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park

Another difficult category to rank these 2 in the battle of Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park!

If you ask my kids which park they liked better, they’d say Sequoia, but it’s likely because they’ve spent more time in that park.

One of our favorite hikes in either park was Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. At just 0.5 miles round trip, the ‘hike’ is really just 350+ steps to the top of a granite dome.

With spectacular panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this hike is a must-do for families. Just watch young kids closely because the cliffs are no joke.

Sequoia offers family-friendly activities like Crystal Cave, and kids love climbing trees in the Giant Forest near the General Sherman Tree. My kids also loved the Tunnel Log, where you can drive through a Sequoia tree. If you go on a weekend during the summer and the shuttles are running, kids can stand underneath the tree for a photo opp. So fun!

There’s also plenty of things to do for kids in Kings Canyon. The trail leading to General Grant Tree is full of interactive opportunities for families. Checking out the Gamlin Cabin and climbing through fallen Sequoias were the highlights.

kings canyon and sequoia national park waterfall from rock to lake with tree above
Roaring River Falls, Kings Canyon National Park

The short walk to Roaring River Falls or Grizzly Falls are perfect for kids, too. Hume Lake is a great spot for families, where older kids can enjoy sand volleyball or kayaking and paddleboarding on the lake.

For families, both parks are truly great, and it’s a fun spot to do things on your family bucket list – like hug a giant tree! If your kids are impatient and are too young to fully appreciate amazing road trips like adults do, then the drive through Sequoia is better for them, because most of the park’s top activities are more condensed and a quicker drive.

The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is stunning, but kids might just find it boring as it does take at about 2 hours to complete.

In this category, Sequoia wins!

Congestion and crowds

hiking up moro rock view of mountains with stairs built into rock
Busy trail: Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

The NPS counts visitors to both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, so official counts aren’t really helpful here.

Based on congestion during the parks, I’d say Sequoia National Park is much more crowded. They even offer (ahem, require) a shuttle for some areas during the summer months on the weekends due to overcrowding.

Spending time in both parks, the lines were longer and parking lots filled quicker at Sequoia vs Kings Canyon.

As with most national parks, if you want to avoid crowds, go in the shoulder season – and avoid the peak summer travel season, especially weekends.

Over the years, I’ve learned by hiking in Mt. Rainier, visiting the Mighty 5 during an Utah national parks road trip, seeing epic waterfalls in Glacier National Park, and many more adventures, that getting to the park early and visiting during the week are the best ways to avoid the crowds.

In this category, Kings Canyon wins!

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park in 1 day

sequoia grove and lush forest floor
Beautiful scenery at Crescent Meadows

Alright so we’ve compared Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park on many levels. And to be honest, they’re both great parks! While it’s best if you have 2-3 days to see the parks, sometimes that isn’t possible. Here’s a suggested itinerary if you want to see both parks on a quick visit.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon in 1 day

  • Start in Visalia and drive up Generals Highway to enter the park.
  • Visit the General Sherman Tree first, since it gets really super busy.
    • If you have time and are up for it, hike the Congress Trial to see more of these giants!
  • Next hike Moro Rock because the views are awesome and it also gets really busy.
  • Crescent Meadow is next; drive through the Tunnel Log, go on a hike and enjoy the views.
  • Head to the Lodgepole Visitor Center for a picnic lunch, or grab a light lunch there. Be sure to check out the Giant Forest Museum.
  • Next drive Generals Highway north to Kings Canyon. This is likely the peak of day so work your way backwards to avoid crowds.
  • Drive all the way through the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to Roads End and witness the massive canyon along the way.
  • Check out Muir Rock, Zumwalt Meadow or hike to Mist Falls.
  • Hit the restrooms and take a snack break at Cedar Grove Visitor Center and Village.
  • Make your way back up the canyon and to Hume Lake. If you’re hungry and have time, grab some ice cream at the Hume Lake Snack Shop.
  • Continue on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, turning off to visit Panoramic Point. This road is narrow and it’s a short 0.5 mile hike to this epic viewpoint.
  • Lastly, take the General Grant Tree Trail to see the largest Sequoia Tree and the grove of Sequoias.
  • Exit the park via Highway 180 and head to Fresno for accommodations.

Whew! That’s a long day with lots of driving! It’s doable, but much more enjoyable with more time. 🙃

Sequoia vs Kings Canyon National Park – who wins?

based of sequoia trees looking up to sunlight
Truly stunning in real life🤯

Alright have you decided which of these amazing parks wins in your opinion?

To be honest, you can’t really go wrong! Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have amazing scenery, complete with waterfalls, Sierra Nevada Mountain views and of course, Sequoias!

I hope this guide helped you decide where to go and that you have an amazing time exploring these parks!

Related content to read next:
21 Amazing Things do Do in Kings Canyon National Park You Can’t Miss
Amazing Sequoia National Park Visit: One Day Itinerary (What You Can’t Miss)

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sequoia vs kings canyon which is your perfect national park view of mountains trees and waterfall

Les G.

Thursday 25th of January 2024

Thank you for your intriguing article and recommendations! This is very helpful to novices, such as myself. I’ll be in Bakersfield, for business, and I’ll be driving to Reno, NV after I’m finished in Bakersfield; so I’m kicking around a scenic drive from Bakersfield to Reno, and I’ve always wanted to see both Parks. I’m limited in mobility but can bring a mobility scooter, which will help me to get around. With all of this in mind, combined with the fact that it’s now winter 2024 (I’ll be going there during the first few days of 02/2024), do you know if the Parks are hard to access this year / winter 2024? Since the Parks are mountainous forests, I’m thinking they could be snow-covered … if they are, the Parks might be closed -or- have limited access. Since you are ’in the know’, regarding these 2 Parks, I thought I’d reach out to you, via this post, to see if you know the answers to my questions—just in case you are located near the Parks. Any info, you can share, will be greatly appreciated. Thank you kindly for your time, help, and your wonderful article … it’s written so well!


Friday 26th of January 2024

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you found this article helpful! Visiting these parks is certainly a dream, they're so incredible. Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon get a lot of snow during the winter months and closures make traveling within the parks challenging. You can check current conditions here: Currently, it looks like the road between the parks (Generals Highway) is restricted and traveling within the parks would be limited. If you really want to experience the parks, I'd recommend waiting until the snow melts. The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is closed over winter as well, and that's the road that takes you down into the canyon - a scenic route I truly believe is one of the most underrated in the National Park System. Whenever you decide to go, I hope you have an amazing and memorable experience!


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

This is a really great, informative post - thanks for your tips! I think Kings Canyon sounds like the winner for me, although it's a very close call


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Oh cool Lisa! Kings Canyon is such a great park. So much to see and do there.

Josy A

Wednesday 1st of March 2023

Heh! That is a very difficult call! You have basically convinced me that I would love both Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks! I mostly love the trees and the fabulous mountain scenery. The other biggy for me is how busy they are, so Kings Canyon might be slightly better...


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Ha love it, Josy! I think you'd really love both. Time to plan a trip to see for yourself which is better ;)


Wednesday 1st of March 2023

Im fascinated with trees. Greatly appreciate this guide comparing Sequoia vs King Canyon National Parks. Both have their pen for use something - I plan to visit both!


Wednesday 1st of March 2023

Fun Karen! I hope you get there soon. Both are fabulous🌲


Saturday 11th of February 2023

I have to choose Sequoia because I think these giant trees are extraordinary. But luckily I don’t have to choose 1 park so I plan to visit both.


Thursday 16th of February 2023

That's the way to think about it, Terri! You certainly won't regret visiting both :)