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2 Days in SEKI: A Trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Growing up in Southern California, I had always heard about Sequoia and the giant trees, but I had never had the chance to visit before moving away. Having the opportunity to visit in 2023 was a dream come true, and an experience I’ll never forget, especially seeing the magic of the giant forest through the eyes of our three-year-old.

How long should you plan for your trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon (commonly known as SEKI)?

This will highly depend on when you visit, where you stay, and what your goals for the visit are. If your goal is to explore the main attractions and hikes, then 2-3 days should be sufficient. However, if you wish to engage in more extreme hiking or venture off the beaten path, consider adding a couple of extra days. Unfortunately, during our visit in July 2023, parts of Sequoia and a significant portion of Kings Canyon were closed due to winter road damage. Nonetheless, we were able to see most of what we wanted to in just two days. Be sure to also check out our post on surviving remote areas, as we had absolutely no cell service inside Sequoia or Kings Canyon.

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Starting with Accomodation

We stayed at Three Rivers Hideaway in Three Rivers, California. Three Rivers is the closest town to Sequoia, and Three Rivers Hideaway is the closest campground to the national park (unless you choose to boondock or stay in the park itself). Three Rivers Hideaway, while basic, provided a convenient base camp. It lacks amenities like a general store, pool, or playground, and the campsites and bathrooms are small. However, the campground offers direct access to the Kaweah River, perfect for swimming, rafting, or kayaking. This proximity to Sequoia National Park made Three Rivers Hideaway a pleasant place to camp.

Day 1: Exploring Sequoia

General Sherman Tree and Congress Trail

The General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world by volume, is a must-see. The Sequoia forest’s sheer size is awe-inspiring even before you reach the parking lot. The National Park Service provides accessible options for visitors, including separate parking for wheelchair access. If you can manage a steeper paved path, it’s recommended to use the larger parking area. Both areas have restrooms and water fill stations. If you choose to complete just the General Sherman Tree Trail, it’s a little over a mile from the main parking area. For those up for a longer hike, we recommend continuing onto the Congress Trail, which is about 3 miles long. Along this trail, you’ll encounter small streams, wildfire-damaged trees, and other famous trees like The Senate and The House.

Moro Rock

Moro Rock offers a unique 0.5-mile hike up a large granite dome, with 350 steps leading to stunning vistas at the top. While it may sound daunting, the effort is well worth it. The steps are literally built into and through the rock. If steep hikes are challenging for you, take your time and enjoy the views along the way.

Tunnel Log

Driving from Moro Rock to Tunnel Log along Crescent Meadow Road can be a bit treacherous, but where else can you drive your car through a tree? While Tunnel Log isn’t a living tree you can drive through, like at Yosemite, it’s still a fantastic novelty experience. Expect some disorganization as everyone wants to capture the moment. Patience is key, but the experience is truly awesome. Drive carefully on Crescent Meadow Road, and check the NPS website for any vehicle restrictions before your visit.

Sunset Rock

Sunset Rock offers an easy 1.4-mile out-and-back trail with a great view anytime of the day. The trail leads to a large granite dome with a west-facing view of the Kaweah River canyon. While it’s an excellent spot for a picnic, be mindful of Sequoia’s windy roads after dark if you plan to experience sunset here.

Day 2: Tokopah Falls and Kings Canyon

Tokopah Falls

he Tokopah Falls Trail is a hidden gem, offering amazing scenery throughout the 3.8-mile out-and-back hike along the Kaweah River Marble Fork. You’ll be serenaded by the soothing sound of the river throughout the hike. Depending on the season, you might encounter stream crossings, so waterproof shoes are advisable. Keep in mind that black bears are known to frequent this area, so stay bear-aware during your adventure. We were fortunate to encounter two black bears during our hike, maintaining a safe distance between us and the wildlife. As you approach the falls, expect some mild rock scrambling before being greeted by the 1,200-foot waterfall.

General Grant Tree

A visit to Kings Canyon National Park isn’t complete without seeing the General Grant Tree. Although not as large as the General Sherman Tree, General Grant holds two titles: the Nation’s Christmas Tree and the country’s only living national shrine. The hike to General Grant Tree offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the magnificent Sequoia forest. Along the loop, you’ll also encounter Fallen Monarch, a giant redwood tree that hollowed out from a wildfire over 300 years ago. You can walk through this tree, making it a favorite among visitors.

Panoramic Point Overlook

If the one-lane road to Tunnel Log made you nervous, you might want to skip Panoramic Point Overlook. Panoramic Point Road is another one-lane road, with hairpin turns and steep terrain. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the views from the top overlook Kings Canyon National Park and the High Sierra peaks. There’s a short half-mile trail to Panoramic Point, which is paved but somewhat steep.

In just two days, we embarked on a journey through the stunning Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI), a dream come true for us. While the duration of your visit may vary depending on your goals and timing, we found that 2 days provided us with a fulfilling taste of the wonders these parks hold.

From standing in awe beneath the towering General Sherman Tree, to conquering the steps of Moro Rock, and even driving our car through Tunnel Log, our adventure was filled with unforgettable experiences. We picnicked at Sunset Rock, gazed upon Tokopah Falls, and paid our respects to the impressive General Grant Tree. As we navigated these natural wonders, we couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer beauty of the Sequoia forest and the tranquility of the rivers that flowed through it. And let’s not forget our delightful encounter with black bears along the Tokopah Falls Trail, a memory etched in our hearts forever.

So, whether you have a few days or a bit more time to spare, make sure to include Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on your travel bucket list. They are bound to leave an permanent mark on your heart, just as they did on ours.


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