Sequoia National Park Camping and Kings Canyon Camping Guide
There are lots of options when it comes to planning your Sequoia National Park camping trip, so if you’re feeling a little lost, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re going to look at each campground in Sequoia National Park as well as in Kings Canyon.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are located directly next to each other, so are often viewed at one place, when it comes to planning a trip. One park merges into the next, which gives you plenty of options of where to stay. Both parks are beautiful and well worth visiting.
Feature Image Credit : @peteramend / Peter Amend
Sequoia National Park
The main attraction in Sequoia National Park is, of course, the towering sequoia trees. The giant forest spans a whopping 1880 acres and rises high above you to create an impressive sight. There are plenty of hiking trails to enjoy the landscape as well as the Tunnel Log and General Sherman Tree, the largest known single-stem tree (by volume) in the world, standing 84m tall.
Kings Canyon National Park
As well as giant sequoia trees, Kings Canyon National Park is also home to the deepest canyon in the USA, at over one and a half miles deep. The Kings Canyon is a fantastic area of natural beauty, of colossal size. The rivers that run through the canyon form to create a couple of waterfalls that you can hike to, as well as Hume Lake, where you can swim in the cool waters.
Both Parks are well worth a visit, if you’re going to one then it would be silly not to go to the other, considering they’re so close to each other. So, let’s dive in and take a look at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park camping.
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are located in California. Due to the high elevation in much of the park, it can be very cold in winter with heavy snowfall. These weather conditions cause many campgrounds to close or run at a limited capacity throughout the winter months.
The best time to visit the park is throughout the summer in June, July and August when the weather is warm. However, this is also the most popular season, so the park is likely to be busy and full. If you plan to visit in Summer, reservations are highly recommended. If you want to avoid the crowds, aim for early spring.
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park Camping
There are a total of fourteen campgrounds located throughout Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. As the two parks cover such a vast area, campgrounds are grouped by location. These five locations are Lodgepole, Foothills, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove and Mineral King.
- Mineral King is the only area that does not allow any RV camping. This is because the road leading up to the campground is very narrow and not recommended for larger vehicles.
- Only one campground in Foothills allows RV camping (Potwisha Campground).
- The majority of the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park camping grounds allow RVs up to 35 feet, although a few have a limit of 22 feet.
- Showers are not available at any of the campgrounds, but you can find some coin-operated showers throughout the parks.
- There are no electrical hook-ups throughout the parks, but you can use generators throughout the day.
- Most campgrounds have flushing toilets, the ones that don’t have vault toilets.
- Most campgrounds have drinking water available.
- Some campsites are available on a first come first served basis, but reservations are also available throughout peak season.
The first Sequoia National Park camping area is Lodgepole. Within this area, there are two large campgrounds: Lodgepole Campground and Dorset Creek Campground. This area is located at a 6700ft elevation, so can get chilly at night, even during the summer.
If you want easy access to Lodgepole Village, Grant Grove, Giant Forest, and Cedar Grove Lodgepole Camping is a good choice as the campgrounds are centrally located. There is also a shuttle bus service that will take you to these attractions, from both campgrounds.
Lodgepole Campground is a part of Lodgepole Village which has a visitors centre, market, laundry and showers so this is a good campground choice for those who like to be in walking distance of amenities. On-site (in season) there is a water and dump station. Flush toilets are available year round.
Throughout the summer, you can attend evening programmes at the amphitheatre on most weekends. This is an excellent Sequoia National Park camping addition if you are travelling with kids.
RVs of up to 42ft are welcome at Lodgepole campground where there are 214 sites available. From May to September reservations are available and recommended as only a few sites are saved for first come first served arrivals. Outside these months the campground runs on a first come first served basis but, due to snowfall, campground opening dates vary and are usually April-December. Sites are $22 per night.
Dorset Creek Campground
Dorset Creek Campground is the second Sequoia National Park camping ground and is central for exploring the Park as it’s located between Grant Grove and Giant Forest. It is a large campground with 218 sites and spots for almost any size of RV. There are also several fully accessible sites available with paved parking and paths to all facilities.
At Dorset Creek, you will find flushable toilets, water and a dump station. Groceries, showers, and laundry facilities are available at Wuksachi Lodge (6 miles away), and Lodgepole Market (8 miles away). Dorset Creek Campground is on the shuttle service route.
The campground is open for reservations from June -September, which are highly recommended. Fees are $22 a night.
Foothills is the second Sequoia National Park camping area, and if you’re looking for something a bit warmer, then this location could be for you. Located at an elevation of 2500-3000ft it is warm and dry in summer, although still cold and often wet in the winter.
This is a beautiful area with trails leading to oak woodlands, river canyons, and spring wildflowers. The campgrounds are also smaller, giving them a more intimate feel.
Vehicles over 22ft are not advised on the roads between Potwisha Campground and the Giant Forest, and as a result, only Potwisha Campground allows RVs on site. Buckeye Flat and South Fork campground are tent only.
Potwisha Campground is the only site in the Foothills camping area that allows RVs, however, the maximum limit is 24ft. On-site there is water, flushable toilets and ranger programmes from July to September. There are also two accessible sites available.
As with all Sequoia National Park camping grounds, there are no showers or electricity on-site, but you can use a generator throughout the day. This campground is open year-round, and reservations are recommended as there are only 42 sites available. Fees are $22 per night.
Buckeye Flat Campground
Buckeye Flat Campground is for tent camping only, and there are just 28 sites available. You can make a reservation online between May and September, but the rest of the time the campground runs on a first come first served basis.
At this quiet and secluded campground, there are flushable toilets, water and you can use the ranger programmes at Potwisha Campground. Fees are $22 per night.
South Fork Campground
South Fork Campground is another Sequoia National Park camping ground that is tent only. As well as being tent only, this campground is very primitive with no water, vault toilets and difficult car access. Only ten sites are available at just $6 per night, on a first come, first served basis.
This is a great campsite if you want to stay in the wilderness and are a keen hiker as it is close to two trailheads. Both trails are long, uphill climbs for those wanting a challenge.
Grant Grove Camping
While Grant Grove is technically still Sequoia National Park camping, it is known as the gateway to Kings Canyon National Park, which is just five minutes away. The Grant Grove camping area sits at an elevation of 6500ft which offers moderate temperatures in summer and deep snow in winter.
All three campgrounds in the Grant Grove area offer RV camping, and one is open year-round. The many trails in this area take advantage of the sequoia groves, meadows, waterfalls and vistas of the high Sierra. Despite the surrounding natural beauty, amenities are available in Grant Grove Village, close to all campgrounds, although there are no showers nearby.
Azalea Campground is open year-round for tents, RVs and trailers. It runs on a first come first served basis with 110 sites open in peak season and between 20 and 88 throughout the rest of the year.
There is one accessible site at Azalea Campground. You can expect heavy snowfall in the winter, so it is advisable to bring a shovel! The campground has drinking water and flushable toilets and fees are $18 per night.
Sunset Campground is open to tents and RVs from early spring to late fall, with reservations available and recommended from summer to early fall. The remaining dates run on a first come, first served basis. This campground also has two group sites for up to 30 people and two accessible sites.
With 157 sites plus the group sites, this is a busy campground with ranger programmes in the summer months. Drinking water and flushable toilets are available but no dump stations. Fees are $22 per night.
Crystal Springs Campground
Close by is the Crystal Springs campground which is also open from early spring to late fall. This is a smaller campground with just 36 sites. However, there are also 14 moderate group sites for up to 15 people which will make this campground feel busier when full.
While reservations are recommended for the group sites, the regular sites run on a first come, first served basis. There is one accessible site, flush toilets and drinking water but no dump station. Sites cost $18 per night.
Cedar Grove Camping
An hour away from the Grant Grove camping area is Cedar Grove, a more remote location in Kings Canyon National Park. This is a beautiful area, located on the Kings River, and has spectacular views of the glaciated Kings Canyon.
A bike path connects all four campgrounds in this area to the services and amenities at Cedar Grove Village. For people into hiking, this is an excellent area to stay in as trails lead to meadows and waterfalls, and also provides some of the best access to the high Sierra wilderness.
Sentinel Campground is open from early spring to late fall and has 82 sites available to tents and RVs. It is recommended to make a reservation.
You will find water, flushable toilets and several accessible sites available at the campground. There are ranger programmes on offer in the summer and laundry and showers are located in Cedar Grove village, which is nearby. Fees are $22 per night.
Sheep Creek Campground
Sheep Creek Campground is run on a first come, first served basis and is open from late spring to early fall. The 111 sites are open for both tents and RVs and cost $18 per night.
On-site is drinking water, flushing toilets and ranger programmes from July to early September. The village amenities are just 1.5km away.
Moraine Campground is picturesque and offers the best views of the Kings Canyon granite cliffs of the four campgrounds in this area. This campground also runs on a first come, first served basis and the 121 sites are open for tents and RVs.
There are several accessible sites, drinking water and flushable toilets at Moraine Campground. Ranger programmes are available in the summer, and the village is just 1.2km away. Fees are $18 per night.
Canyon View Campground
The last campground in the Cedar Grove camping area, Canyon View Campground, is open for groups only. Groups of 7-14 or 15-30 can reserve sites here at $40 to $60 per night. This campground is open from late spring to early fall.
No RVs are permitted at this campground as group sites are reserved for tent or car camping only. Drinking water, flushable toilets and ranger programmes are available, and the village is just 0.4km away.
Mineral King Camping
We’re moving back to Sequoia National Park camping with the Mineral King Camping area. Mineral King features two campgrounds, neither of which are suitable for RVs. The campgrounds stand at an elevation of 7500ft, and the single access road is steep, narrow and not ideal for large vehicles.
Due to the elevation, the campgrounds are only open in the summer months as snowfall is heavy in the winter. Even in the summer, the night can be cold in the Mineral King area. There are plenty of challenging trails in this area, making it an excellent choice for hikers.
Atwell Mill Campground
Open for tent camping only, Atwell Mill Campground has just 21 sites. One of the smallest campgrounds in the two parks, this first come, first served campground has an intimate feel and costs $12 per night.
This campground is relatively primitive with just vault toilets, but there is one accessible site. After October 2020 there will also be no drinking water available. Limited supplies and amenities can be found 1.7 miles away at Silver City Resort which is on private land.
Cold Springs Campground
Cold Springs is another remote campground and is similar to Atwell Mill. There are 40 tent sites available on a first come, first served basis that cost $12 per night.
Again facilities are primitive with vault toilets and no drinking water after October 2020. There are no accessible sites at Cold Springs. Limited supplies and amenities can be found 2.5 miles away at Silver City Resort which is on private land.
Wolverton Stock Campground
Sequoia National Park camping has recently opened a campground for those travelling with stock; horses, mules llamas or burrows. You must email the National Park Service with a request form to reserve a site and space for your animals. Sites cost $22 per night.
There are many campsites outside the two National Parks that still allow you access to this beautiful location. However, in the summer months, these can also fill up quickly, so it is advisable to plan your trip well in advance.
If you want to make a trip with little or no notice, then you will be best aiming for one of the first come, first served campgrounds. If you’re unlucky and fail to get a campsite when you arrive, there is plenty of National Forrest surrounding the park that you can camp in.
Sequoia National Forest allows dispersed free camping. There are no facilities, and you must take everything away with you and leave no trace. This can be a fantastic alternative if you cannot camp in the parks or if you want to camp for free.
Both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon offer many brilliant camping options. These parks are beautiful places to experience, and camping is the best way to feel close to nature. Booking ahead is advisable for a smooth trip, but if you didn’t manage to get a reservation, this area is still worth a visit. Let us know what you think by following the Van Clan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
More Content From The Van Clan Team
- Yosemite National Park is also in California and is worth planning into your route if you’re going to Sequoia. Check out our Yosemite camping guide for tips on how to get a camping spot inside the park.
- Want to know more about dispersed camping? Check out our guide to free camping for more information.
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