Summer travel looks very different this year, our National Parks are open and they are busy! However, National Parks across the US are in the process of adding more capacity, and are a GREAT drivable option as people look to get away to open spaces after spending months at home. We visited both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park on the same trip, and were immediately soothed by the peaceful nature and natural beauty.
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park sit side by side in central California, and are about a 3.5 hour drive from Los Angeles. These parks are filled with peaceful canyons, mountain peaks, and the largest trees in the world. Sequoia National Park is known for the giant sequoia tree forest. The last remaining sequoia trees in the world are scattered along a section of the western Sierra Nevada Mountains. Giant sequoias are among the longest-living organisms on the planet, and can grow to 5,000 – 8,000 feet in elevation. The oldest sequoia ever recorded is 3,200 years old.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all National Parks were closed in March 2020. Since then, they have slowly began to reopen with a limited capacity, to ensure the safety of visitors. Some are operating at 25% capacity, which means if you’re lucky enough to score a park pass, you practically have the park to yourself. Which is unheard of during a typical summer travel season. Important to note, the park passes are extremely limited and vary from park to park. Summer 2023 update: they are all open now, but many over over capacity. I’d recommend securing your park pass online and then plan your trip around that.
The Giant Forest Grove of sequoia trees includes some of the world’s largest trees, including the General Sherman Tree and General Grant Tree. We hiked from the visitor center and museum and it was about 3 miles each way. We were able to wander through the forest filled with giant trees, and watching the sun bounce off the tall orange trees was magical. I highly suggest you bring ample water for this hike as parts are uphill and it does get very hot.
We drove this breathtaking 50 mile road from Sequoia National Park to Kings Canyon National Park, and the views were incredible. I will caution you however, if you are prone to car sickness, the endless curves and windy roads are not for those with a weak stomach. Also important to note, the byway does experience closures, so check the NPS website for the most up-to-date information. We found ourselves waiting in a traffic line for 40 minutes because the road was closed for repair and they were only letting cars through every hour. Yes you read that correctly!
The General Sherman tree is believed to be the largest currently living tree in the world by volume. It’s absolutely massive and measures approximately 275ft high and 100ft in circumference around the base. The General Sherman tree was named after the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
If you enjoy hiking in perfect solitude, you will love hiking in Sequoia National Park. This was one of the most peaceful hikes we have ever taken. We found ourselves strolling through a world of big trees with literally thousands of huge Sequoia trees scattered around us. There are hundreds of trails around the park with lots of different terrain for all levels.
The Moro Rock Trail is a short but challenging hike up 350 steep steps. The views at the top are incredible. The steps wound their way around the rock, and while there are barriers and handrails, we definitely felt exposed. As we climbed higher, the views became more incredible, and the views from the top are simply breathtaking. You feel as though you are on the top of the world.
Our visit to Sequoia National Park enabled us to recharge, relax, feed our souls and we were able to decompress from the stressful past few months of living through a pandemic. If you plan to visit a National Parks this summer, I would definitely recommend you check their website for updates, site closures and visitor policies to help your trip go more safely and smoothly.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.