My 3 days in Sequoia National Park were an absolute whirlwind in the best way! So much happened in just a couple days. I was scared on my first hike ever (more on that later, but we were in a snowstorm so normally you’d be fine but eek x100), I craned my neck staring at the giant sequoia trees, I sat by a waterfall in the snow, and way more. There are so many things to do in Sequoia National Park, and in neighboring King’s Canyon National Park as well, you can easily spend a week here.
For my trip, I spent 3 days in Sequoia National Park and King’s Canyon National Park, spending two in Sequoia and one in King’s respectively. I’ll list all of the things I’d recommend doing first, then at the bottom of this post (if you make it there, high five!) I’ll list out how I organized them into a 3 day itinerary. But first, let’s start with a list of what to do in Sequoia National Park:
The Short Version
- Visit General Sherman Tree
- Explore the Giant Forest
- Sunset at Moro Rock
- Drive through and climb on Tunnel Log
- Hike into the mountains
- Explore the meadows
- Spend a day driving through King’s Canyon National Park
The Long Version of What to Do in Sequoia National Park
Visit General Sherman Tree
If you have done any research into what to do in Sequoia National Park, you’ve probably already seen this 100 times but it’s just a must. I’m sorry but also not sorry to be the 101st time you’ll see this on a Sequoia National Park itinerary. General Sherman Tree is the biggest tree in the world, and it’s honestly incredible. It’s just massive, and because of its notoriety it was the only place in the park we stood to wait in line for a picture. If you want to avoid fellow tourists (which, I usually do) just make sure to get there earlier in the day. It’s a quick very easy walk/hike from the parking lot (available during good weather) and you’ll be able to spend the rest of the day exploring the woods around it.
Explore the Giant Forest
Since you’ll already be here having just visited General Sherman Tree, exploring the Giant Forest around it is another must do for things to do in Sequoia National Park. Obviously General Sherman Tree is the biggest tree, but there are so many other massive trees in this area you just have to spend a few hours wandering through this amazing fairytale of a forest.
There are a million different pathways you can take in the Giant Forest to make your time there a short or longer hike. Really this “hike” is super easy; you’re just walking around the forest floor exploring. We took the Giant Forest Loop trail, also called the Congress Trail according to the signage in the area. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to the signs, because it can be easy to get off-trail or take a wrong turn. Getting lost should not be in your Sequoia National Park itinerary. But even if you do get a little lost, you’ll find your way back no problem. And honestly, the detour is worth it.
Sunset at Moro Rock
This is a steep 300 stairs to get to the top, but once you do… it’s magical. This may have been my favorite thing we did at the park? I would ABSOLUTELY list this as one of my top things to do in any Sequoia National Park itinerary. Also, going through the day is pretty magical as well, but sunset is really something special. The pictures really speak for themselves here, so you’ve just gotta do it!
Pro tip – if you aren’t afraid of heights you can actually go beyond the railings. Climb out on the rocks and there are actual stairs down to a seating area with an even better view of the cliff. If you do this, do it during the day not for sunset. It’s not as good of a view for sunset and it’s also just not a great idea in the dark.
Drive Through Tunnel Log
Another iconic thing that finds itself on probably every “what to do in Sequoia National Park” list is driving through Tunnel Log. Honestly, just what a clever way to deal with nature? Instead of moving the tree, they simply carved through it. Now you and your vehicle can drive through one of the more unique tunnels the world has seen. You might have to wait in a brief line in your car while other people go through ahead of you, but it’s not a big deal at all.
Hike Into the Mountains
Sequoia National Park is full of varying terrain, and not just giant trees. Don’t get me wrong, the giant sequoia are incredible, but you can get up into the mountains for some spectacular views as well! Are these hikes found on most “what to do in Sequoia National Park” lists? Not sure. But is it worth it? Yes. Unless you’re unlucky like me and hike into a snowstorm. But assuming you’re not, here are the hikes we wanted to do:
We didn’t end up doing this hike, but not for lack of excitement. Not feeling a tough hike that day? No problem, try this one! Marble Falls ends at, you guessed it, some waterfalls. The hike looks truly beautiful with great reviews and ratings on AllTrails and would be a good addition to any Sequoia National Park itinerary.
Now, we actually did do this trail but unfortunately the weather was not our friend and by the time we got almost to the first major stop (Heather Lake), we needed to turn back. The hike is rated hard and you hike up to three alpine lakes, which is super badass. We were about .25 miles away from the first one when we officially turned back due to limited visibility. This trail specifically splits into two passes. The steeper but shorter pass – Hump Pass – or the longer, less steep, and cliffside pass – Watchtower Pass. We took Watchtower Pass because we’re not afraid of heights and were dying to see the sweeping views of the park from above. But due to the storm, we couldn’t see.
However, the hike up to this point was gorgeous. You’re hiking through the forest and it’s just truly stunning. We saw lots of deer and plenty of bear prints, so keep an eye out.
Explore the Meadows
It might seem strange to recommend a clearing from the trees in a national park named after trees, but I highly recommend checking out a meadow or two. Not only will you see some cool wildflowers, but you also might see some wildlife. There are a few meadows you can explore, such as Crescent or Zumwault, and both have nice hikes around them to enjoy. We spent some time in Crescent and there was a black bear and a young grizzly there while we were! Definitely a worthy addition to any Sequoia National Park itinerary.
Drive Through King’s Canyon
This park seems to be super overshadowed by Sequoia National Park, but King’s Canyon is RAD. It’s connected to Sequoia and an easy drive up, but you MUST drive along the King’s Canyon Scenic Byway. You can absolutely spend a full day here, and eventually I’ll write a blog about all of my favorite stops along the way. But until that day, just know it’s wildly worth it to spend the day driving to the road’s end.
Things to Do in Sequoia National Park & King’s Canyon National Park; the 3 Day Itinerary
- Day 1 – Explore the Giant Forest and the check out the world’s largest trees as well as your meadow(s) of choice
- Day 2 – Spend the day hiking in the mountain then drive through Tunnel Log and head to Moro Rock for sunset
- Day 3 – Drive around King’s Canyon
So there you go; my recommendations for what to do in Sequoia National Park, with a day in King’s Canyon. If you have any questions, you know how to reach me. And if you want to see more of my ground-level experiences, check out my Sequoia and King’s Canyon story highlights on Instagram.