Visitor services in national parks, forest open for summer


With two dozen campgrounds to choose from in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Sequoia National Forest, it seems like there would be room for everyone. But not on a holiday weekend.

So for those who don’t have reservations, it would be best to arrive at the first-come, first-served sites as early as possible today (Friday, May 27) to grab a spot. 

A change is in store this year at Big Meadows Campground in Giant Sequoia National Monument where the previously free sites now will be available for a fee. All sites at the campground will still be on a first-come, first-served basis.

All campgrounds, visitor centers, and concession services such as food and lodging are now open for the summer season. 

The Sequoia Shuttle is making the rounds from Visalia to Giant Forest (for a fee) and offers free shuttle service in Sequoia from Wuksachi Lodge to Giant Forest Museum and all the points of interest along the way.

Two things visitors won’t find in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is cell-phone service and gas stations. Phone booths are at various locations throughout the parks; gas is available in the communities outside of the parks and at Hume Lake and Stony Creek in Giant Sequoia National Monument.

California recently experienced four years of severe drought, which took a toll on trees in the Sierra Nevada forests. Be mindful of dead trees when camping, picnicking, or recreating. Branches or entire trees may fall without warning.

Whether driving or hiking in the Sierra, be prepared for inclement weather. The weather forecast is predicting some unstable weather in the mountains over the weekend with a chance of thunderstorms on Saturday. In stormy weather, it is advised to stay off of Moro Rock or any other high, exposed location to avoid being struck by lightning.

In Sequoia National Forest, some backroads and trails remain closed due to last year’s devastating Rough Fire. Portions of Converse Basin, including the road and trail to the Boole Tree, remain closed due to hazards created by the fire. The area between Mill Flat Creek north to Verplank Ridge, areas east of Hume Lake and north of Burton Pass, and all of the Monarch Wilderness remain under a Rough Fire closure.

Interpretive programs will be taking place throughout the parks and forest. Check in at campground kiosks or visitor centers for information and schedules.

The leading cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is drowning. The area’s waterways are currently brimming with snowmelt and running fast and cold.

Rocks are water-polished smooth near the banks of the rivers and streams and are extremely slippery, especially when wet. Enjoy the water from afar and always keep children close by.

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