Sequoia National Park. Things You Can't Miss On Your First Visit
Updated: Jan 3
Have you had a chance to visit Sequoia National Park? We took a spontaneous weekend getaway to visit the Park for the first time and it was amazing! It truly felt like we were driving into another world filled with so much beauty to explore. Yes, you can find some amazing huge sequoias but there is so much more to see! If you are reading this because you are trying to decide if you should visit, the answer is Absolutely! We put our trip together in 48 hours and it was definitely not easy, but after lots of research we narrowed it down to what I will be sharing with you. There is so much to do and see at the park but I wanted to share with you some of the things you can not miss if you are visiting for the first time as well as tips to get the most out of your visit. I've also added a picture of the map they give you when you enter the park at the end of this blog. I've added a checkmark next to all the locations I will be sharing for easy access.
General Sherman aka The Biggest Tree In the World
I recommend this to be one of your first stops since this stop is very popular and can get congested with people wanting to take pictures by the tree. You start by walking down a paved pathway with stairs leading you to this enormous tree that is behind some wooden fencing. The tree is 275 fee tall, weight 1,385 tons and is 2,200 years old. The tree is not the tallest or the widest, but the overall volume of its trunk makes it the biggest tree on earth. It really is quite impressive and a must see when visiting. This is considered a moderate grade 0.5 mile hike with benches along the way for resting.
Right after you visit General Sherman you have two options, you can either head on back the same way you came down or my recommendation would be to continue on the Congress trail like we did. The Congress trail is the heart of the Giant Forest Sequoia grove. During this trail you will be able to walk through some beautiful famous sequoias like the House, the Senate group, and the President. The trail loops around so make sure you stay on the trail and keep going until the end because the further you get into the trail the more beautiful it gets. This trail starts right next to General Sherman, is partially paved, considered a 2 mile moderate grade trail (2.5 mile hike if you include the walk from the very top to see the General). I highly reccomend this trail as it was very peaceful and the perfect trail to see these beautiful gorgeous trees up close and personal.
Moro Rock Trail
This was our very first stop and we are so happy it was because on our way down it started to get busy. This is a hike up to the top of the mountain that consist mostly of concrete stairs, 350 steps to be exact with barriers for safety. They call it the climb up a Granite Dome. On a clear day like the one we had you can see the High Sierra peaks.As soon as you start climbing you can appreciate the stunning views that only keep getting better and better. The steps and climb up can be a bit narrow why I recommend you do it early before crowds arrive. Its an easy short hike about 0.5 mile long but does consist mostly of stairs so take your time and enjoy the views.
This was by far the most beautiful trail we have ever done. It left us ALL speechless even my 8 year old daughter. Honestly, no pictures or videos can do it justice. The hike starts at the Lodgepole Campground next to the Kaweah River and follows it for most of the hike. The sound of both the river and the forest together was amazing. The hike is not paved and consist of dirt and stepping rocks. The hike does gain some elevations but for the most part its a nice walk through the woods. As you get further down the hike you start seeing beautiful mountains peeking through the trees, this is when the views start getting amazing. As you get closer to the waterfall you do need to walk through some huge rocks, but still remains a fairly easy hike. At this point you have a clear view of the beautiful waterfall cascading down the rocky cliffs. At the end of the trail you are able to sit on some of the rock and admire the waterfall and the rocky cliffs surrounding you. We sat up there for about 30 minutes enjoying the view while we had a snack. My 8 year old was so amazed and said it was so pretty it almost looked fake and I have to agree. We honestly could of spent several hours just sitting here enjoying the view but the rest of the park was waiting for us.
On our way back down the trail, we walked down to see the river up close. The way the sun rays glistened on the water was amazing! There are warning signs of the rivers current and for safety reasons not recommended to get in. So we just hung around for a bit to enjoy the view and continued on our way down the hike. This is a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike, fairly easy and so worth the hike. This is an ABSOLUTE must see. You get to see the river, the forest, the cliffs and a beautiful waterfall.
This hike had the most pisturesque meadows we have ever seen. We took the long way and looped all around the Meadows.
At the very start of our hike we encountered a deer sitting by a tree, a marmot, and the most exciting encounter was a mama bear and her two cubs. As we were passing by the meadow we saw the mama bear in the middle of the meadow, took some pictures and diverted from our original trail further down to visit Tharp's Log Cabin. This is a cabin built into a fallen Sequoia log and you can now look inside and take pictures of it, pretty cool to see and worth the extra mile.
On our way back to our original trail we bumped into some people who saw the mama bear and cubs get too close for comfort to the trail. We waited a while to give the mama bear and her cubs space to cross and we are 100% sure she saw us. It was nerve wrecking, exciting, and so amazing to witness these animals in the wild.
After speaking to several people about our encounter they said this was very common and as long as you respect them and move along there was nothing to worry about. Would I do this hike again, yes! In a heartbeat. Don't let our encounter discourage you from this gorgeous visit to see the meadows. We are in their home and just need to be aware of our surroundings anywhere in the forest. This is a fairly easy, paved turned dirt trail. The loop is 1.3 mile roundtrip and about another mile if you divert to see Tharp's Log like we did.
Buena Vista Peak
This hike was a little different from the rest. For starters its located in Kings Canyon National Parks which is on the other side of the Sequoia Park. If you are looking for it on the map it's labeled the Overlook right after passing Montecito Sequoia Lodge but it is labeled with a sign on the road. This hike takes you up a mountain surrounded by boulders. It kind of even makes you forget you are in the forest. The view at the top is breathtaking. The hike is not steep but still consist of some climbing on a narrow path. This hike is considered easy and is a total of 2 miles. It is completely on a dirt path that isn't the most obvious at times. Theres a point where the path comes to some steps and seems like it can either go right or left. You want to make sure and stay to the left as pointed in the picture below. The view is stunning but I'll let you be the judge of that. We got this video once at the top that looks amazing.
This is a tree that fell on December 1937 which they turned into a tunnel. You can drive through it or if its not busy, you can do what we did and park on the side of the road. You can take a picture under the tunnel or even climb on top like I did.
This is located a little past the Three Rivers entrance and its a good spot for a quick picture. Just park on the side of the road and run to snap that first picture of the day.
As you can tell by the pictures we had an amazing time and look forward to visiting again to be able and do other hikes we weren't able to on our 2 day park visit. Here are some general information to know before you visit. Also, all of these places can be found on the map they give you when you first enter the park. Make sure you keep that map with you at all times.
Try to arrive as early as 6am. Some areas can get crowded after 9am specially in the summer.
Weather can be as low 20-30 degrees cooler once higher up the mountain.
Pack a lunch and lots of water. There is nothing for you to purchase once inside the park at this time (June 2020)
Bring Mosquito repellant.
The road up to the park is a winding road so if you get car sick, pre-medicate.
Park entrance fee is $35 for private vehicles and $20 for individuals on foot or bike and pass is valid for seven days to both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Purchase your pass ahead of time online at https://yourpassnow.com/r1s/site/.72471
Campsites were not open at the time of our visit (June 2020) please refer to their website for current updates https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/lodging.htm
When you enter you receive a map and the park newspaper that has all the information you need. This is the summer 2020 trip planner https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/news/upload/Newspaper_2A_2020_web-508-2.pdf
Here is a picture of the map. The green checkmarks are all the places I talked about. Hope this helps you locate them once you're there.
Hope you find this post helpful in planning your visit to the park. We had an amazing time exploring the natural beauty all around us and hope you have a fun and memorable experience as well.
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For detailed information on 10 Things to do in Yosemite National Park go Here.
Talk to you later!