Let the visitor season begin

In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the gates have been opened on the roads and the visitor centers unlocked and staffed. It’s time for the onslaught of tourists to flood through the entrance gates on their way to see the biggest trees, some of the tallest mountains, deep canyons, wildlife, flowers, rushing rivers, and so many more of nature’s wonders. 

The Sequoia in-park shuttle has begun its summer operations, running daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September 1. With stops at all the main visitor attractions and facilities, it is easy to leave the car behind. 

Signs at each stop provide pertinent information including the shuttle schedule and local areas of interest. Four shuttle routes service Giant Forest Museum, Moro Rock, Cresent Meadow, General Sherman Tree, Lodgepole Campground, Lodgepole Market Center, Wuksachi, and Dorst Creek Campground (beginning June 18).

Currently, all roads in the parks are open. The Crescent Meadow/Moro Rock Road is closed to private vehicles on weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is accessible for shuttles, walkers, and bikers only (those with backountry permits for the High Sierra Trail may drive to the trailhead at Crescent Meadow anytime).

Dorst Creek Campground will open in mid-June. All other campgrounds are open, including those between the parks in Giant Sequoia National Monument. 

Lodgepole Campground and, in the foothills, Potwisha and Buckeye Flat campgrounds are all on a reservation system. Check for availability at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

All visitor centers in the parks are open as are markets, restaurants, snack bars, and gift shops. Most of the areas accessed by road are snow-free. Snow could be encountered on trails at elevations above 9,000 feet, depnding on exposure, and on the high passes and peaks. 

Lake Kaweah— Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive species that can damage habitat and pose a threat to native fish, and they are slowly but surely spreading to western waterways.

All boaters, whether motorized or non-motorized, are asked to clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and any equipment that comes into contact with the water before and after being in a waterway. 

To prevent spreading invasive mussels, boaters should inspect all exposed surfaces, remove plants and organisms, drain all water — including water contained in lower outboard units, live-wells, and bait buckets — and allow the watercraft to thoroughly dry. Between launches, watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather.

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