Best time to visit: Year around, but avoid snow to best explore the Giant Forest
Recommended Hikes: Moro Rock, Congress Loop, Round Meadow, Crescent and Log Meadows, Pear Lake, Redwood Canyon Grove, Muir Grove
Ideal For: Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Auto-Touring
Where to stay: In the park at numerous campgrounds and lodges
Sequoia trees are the largest living things on Earth. Some of them are more than 3,000 years old and and they are truly awe-inspiring to witness and walk amongst. The largest trees have official names, but there are thousands more that are not named. The park also has excellent hiking routes that get out of the forrest and lead to hidden lakes with jagged peak backdrops. Sequoia is a year-around park - but be ready for snow in the winter.
Must See Attractions:
General Sherman Tree - the largest Sequoia tree in existence today. General Sherman is accessible with a short hike from a satellite parking area. Handicapped parking is available near the tree, but all others must use the satellite lot. The General Sherman parking area is also the parking lot to use to access the Congress Loop trail.
Congress Trail - The entire Giant Forest is worth hiking, but if you are short on time, do the Congress Trail. It includes all the famous Sequoia trees including The President, Lincoln Tree, Mckinley Tree, Chief Sequoyah, and the groups of the House and the Senate. The Congress Trail can be extended to see the rest of the Giant Forest and its meadows.
Moro Rock - This is a big granite monolith just south of the Crescent Meadow area. A stone staircase with hand railings allows people to hike up to its peak for panoramic views of the mountains and valley below. This is a great place to be during sunset or sunrise! Read more about Moro Rock in the hiking section below.
Crescent Meadow Area - John Muir called Crescent Meadow the "Gem of the Sierras". It is flanked by Huckleberry Meadow to its left and Log Meadow to it's right, with hiking paths that go around and between all three. All three meadows are must-sees, and they are great place to spot black bears, especially in the morning and evening hours. "Tharp's Log" is worth seeing as well - it’s a hollow, fallen Sequoia Tree converted into a tiny home in the late 1800s by Hale Tharp.
Tunnel Log - A very popular photo op, Tunnel Log is a fallen Sequoia with a big hole cut in it that you can drive your car through. It's located on the road in between the Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow parking areas - you can't miss it.
Round Meadow - Round Meadow is my personal favorite meadow in the park. It is surrounded by Sequoia trees, and the open space of the meadow makes it easy to appreciate them in their entirety. The walk around Round Meadow is a must-do for every visitor of every age. The nearest parking for Round Meadow is at the lot across from the Giant Forest Museum. Read more about the walk around the meadow here.
General Grant Grove - This grove of Sequoias is separated from the Giant Forest by about 25 miles, but the trees here are just as impressive. The grove is located near the park's north entrance on Highway 180, accessible from the south via the General's Highway (closed during winter). There is another "tunnel" tree here which hikers can walk through. Read more about the Grant Grove here.
Sequoia is a black bear stronghold - I have seen more bears here than anywhere else. Look for them in the meadows, especially in the morning. Proper food storage is required at all times. Read more on food storage on the park's website here.
There is a general store at Lodgepole which sells food and souvenirs. It also has a small cafeteria that is open throughout the day from spring - fall.
A trip to Sequoia can be combined with a trip to nearby Yosemite National Park. Read more about Yosemite here.
There is no direct access to Sequoia NP from the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Sequoia's gates are open year around from the south entrance on Highway 198.
The General's Highway which connects the north and south entrances of Sequoia NP is closed during winter - access to the Giant Forest is open year around via the south entrance (Highway 198).
There is shuttle service during summer months. Try to lock down a parking space early at General Sherman or the Giant Forest Museum and then use the shuttles to get around from there. There is no charge to use the shuttles - it is included with the park entrance fee.
Drinking water is available at most developed areas of Sequoia, bring your water bottle to fill up.
Where to Stay:
There are numerous campgrounds in the park, one of which can be reserved online in advance here. The Wuksachi Lodge and Stony Creek Lodge are great options in the heart of the park if you prefer a hotel - click here and here for their websites.
There are a few private campgorunds/RV parks and small hotels outside park boundaries and many more as you get closer to the California valley.
Hiking in Sequoia:
The Giant Forest - In my option, this is some of the best hiking in the world. It really is a moving experience to walk amongst these silent giants. Hiking trails in the Giant Forest connect General Sherman, Congress Trail, Crescent Meadow, and Moro Rock.
Moro Rock - This is a must-do hike to the peak of Moro Rock. The hike has stairs and handrails up the side of the rock, which rises about 250 feet to its peak from the parking area. The road here is closed during winter months, but is still reachable on foot from the Giant Forest Museum. Read more about the hike here.
Pear Lake - If you want to get above the tree-line, the Pear Lake hike offers rugged mountain peaks. You will see zero Sequoia trees on this hike, but the trail passes three small Sierra lakes before reaching the biggest lake in the area - Pear Lake. This is a popular overnight backpacking destination in Sequoia as well. Read more about the hike here.
Off the Beaten Track:
Redwood Canyon Grove - This is the largest grove of Sequoias in the park. The hike can be done as a loop or an out-and-back to the Sugarbowl Grove which is really cool as well. The trailhead can be accessed on a two mile dirt road that breaks off from the General's Highway across from "Quail Flat”. Read more about it here.
Beetle and Sunset Rock - I recommend Beetle Rock over Sunset Rock if you only have time for one. Beetle rock is a much shorter hike and it can be seen in 20 minutes total. It also offers a better view of the valley than Sunset Rock. Crowds should be minimal at both locations compared to the rest of Sequoia.
Parts that I missed:
Crystal Caves - Located at the southern end of the park, the Crystal Caves can be toured if you reserve a ticket online in advance here. The caves are closed during winter months.