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Three days is the perfect amount of time in Sequoia. If you’re planning a trip out here, look no further–I’ve got the BEST way to spend three days in Sequoia National Park.
It has been quite some time since I’ve contributed anything over here! The last few months of the year were crazy for me, as I’m sure they were for you. The holidays, house searching, BUYING A HOUSE (!), and just spending quality time with family has been my priority over the last few months.
But the new year brought some new goals and hopes for this space, so I’m excited to be back! I think I will probably have more realistic expectations of myself, like 1 blog post per month rather than 4. I don’t have many travel plans for the new year just yet, but I still have SO MUCH to cover from our time out west last year. I’m also kinda waiting out this Omicron variant to see what happens before I plan our summer trip.
Today, we’re (virtually) heading over to California to talk about Sequoia National Park. AKA home of the really big trees. We spent 3 days here in July and had the BEST time. Nothing really prepares you for how big these trees actually are! We thoroughly enjoyed getting up to the mountains and the reprieve it brought from heat in the valley. At this point in our trip, we were coming off a week with our friends doing non-stop activities, so our time here was a little more low key. I think this is a park you can really enjoy in a low key manner if that’s what you’re looking for but it’s also easy to make it super adventurous and go-go-go.
Due to the parks being essentially on top of a mountain, it makes for a lot of driving. I’d recommend planning for more time than you think. I’ve outlined some of the top things I would recommend hitting at Sequoia National Park. You can do them in any order you’d like, but I wouldn’t try to hit more than 2 in one day. Things are very spread out and the windy roads make things take even longer. Plus, you never know what wildlife you will have to stop to see!
We stayed in Three Rivers, California, which is about a 20 minute drive from the park entrance. The main road within the park is very windy and twisty due to navigating around the large Sierra mountains, so to get to the actual groves takes about 90 minutes. You can camp inside the park, but sites are limited and need to be snatched up very early. In addition, if you’re bringing a camper, there aren’t many sites with electrical/water hookups.
This is why we chose Three Rivers and we found it very convenient. There are a few gas stations, restaurants, and breweries around town. Once you’re done exploring the park you can relax with a good beer and conveniences of town. Ninety minutes may seem like a long time but the views are so incredible you’ll hardly notice! We even saw a black bear just sauntering down the side of the road one day!
3 days in Sequoia National Park
With long commutes and unpredictable weather, plan to get an early start on the day. We didn’t do a great job of this—we were coming off a week spent with a couple of our best friends in Sedona and Grand Canyon and needed some catch up sleep. The first day, we woke up around 9:30 and didn’t get on the road until around 10 am. Oops. I was a bit nervous because in Three Rivers (a valley) the high was about 109 degrees… not exactly ideal exploring weather.
However, parts of the park sit at over 10,000 feet. After heading up the mountain it was a very pleasant 75 degrees or so. Anywho, do as I say and not as I do. I would recommend getting up to the mountains and trees around 7 am to avoid crowds and heat. (Are you even surprised a travel blogger is suggesting an early start in a national park??)
If you only have time to do ONE thing, make it the Congress Trail. The Congress Trail is a paved loop that takes you to some of the biggest trees in the park. It also boasts General Sherman, the largest tree by volume, in the entire world. There will be long lines to take a picture with this guy, but to be quite honest if you take a picture with any other tree no one will know the difference. *shrug emoji* The Congress Trail also has options to extend your hike off the paved path, which I highly recommend!
Once you make it all the way through Sequoia National Park, you’ll run right into King’s Canyon National Park. I was 27 years old when I learned about this park, but you don’t want to miss it. Especially because it literally backs up to Sequoia! King’s Canyon is so similar to Sequoia but also very very different. There are large trees, but in my humble opinion, it’s a little more rustic. Being in the thick groves in Sequoia, it can be hard to see the mountains for the trees. But driving through King’s Canyon, you certainly can’t miss the mountains. The scenery is gorgeous! If you’ve got some daylight while you’re here, you can also see the General Grant Tree.
On another day, I’d set aside some time to do some hiking. The great thing about hiking here is that even though it can be up to 100 degrees in the towns nearby, the mountains are at such high elevation it’s nice and cool. The day we hiked in Sequoia National Forest, Three Rivers was 109 degrees. The forest was a balmy 85 in the hottest part of the day.
Sequoia National Forest and the Jennie Lakes wilderness is situated between Sequoia and King’s Canyon. My favorite perk of hiking here versus in the parks is that dogs are allowed! We were able to take our dog, Benny, on a hike with us. It just made it that much more fun. We loved hiking to Weaver Lake. I’ve also heard great things about Eagle View, Mount Mitchell, and more. I’m planning to do another post dedicated to the best hikes in Sequoia National Park/National Forest, so stay tuned!
In the second half of the day, head back down to the bottom of the mountains. Stop by Crescent Meadow Road on your way. This is where the famous Tunnel Log is that you can drive your car under! It’s a cute, easy stop to make on your adventure. This same road will lead you up to Moro Rock. Moro Rock boasts some of the best views in the park. You have the option of taking a long hike, a medium hike, or a short walk up to see it. Even if you choose the short walk, though, there are plenty of stairs to navigate—just something to be mindful of.
Unfortunately, there was a medical emergency on this road when we came through so we weren’t able to see either of these things. However, I continually hear how great these two spots are. If you go, let me know what you think! We are going to have to see the fallen log and top of Moro Rock on our next trip! 😉
If you aren’t up to climbing a ton of stairs to the top of Moro Rock, have no fear. There are tons of turn outs on the main road within Sequoia National Park that boast incredible sights. The Sierras are in full display out here.
Sequoia National Park is such a beautiful and unique park. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here. We did some great hiking and exploring. But overall I feel like this park is a little more low key than Yosemite or Glacier (just my opinion!). Three days felt like a perfect amount of time to explore and relax! I shared my favorite parks and must-dos within Sequoia, but I’d love to hear yours!
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