Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon during the holidays: What visitors need to know

Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon
Wuksachi Lodge is closed until December due to staffing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

All lodging and restaurants closed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Because of the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, trip planning when visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is more important than ever for the 2020 holiday period. This weekend, as on any holiday weekend, everyone should expect longer waiting periods at entrance stations and crowded conditions in popular parking areas. Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon

Visitors are encouraged to call 559-565-3341 (dial 1, then 1) for current road and weather conditions prior to arriving at the parks.

Road Conditions

Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon
The road to Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow is currently open to vehicle traffic.

The Generals Highway is currently open and precipitation is not in the forecast. But mountain weather, especially this time of year, can change quickly. Visitors should anticipate that tire chain restrictions could go into effect at any time. All visitors are advised to carry chains or cables when entering the parks this time of year. In addition to chain restrictions, road closures could be instituted in response to winter weather. Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon

For tire chain information including a helpful video on how to install them, and tips on winter driving in the parks, visit www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/winter_driving.htm.

The Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is currently open.

Closed until spring are Mineral King Road, Highway 180 into Cedar Grove, and Crystal Cave Road.

Traffic Congestion

Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon
Expect crowds during the holiday period at the most-visited attractions in the parks.

Lines at entrance stations can be long during holiday weekends. To avoid long waiting periods, it is recommended to arrive before 9 a.m. or after 2 p.m. To further reduce wait time, have your method of payment ready when upon arrival at the entrance station. Having snacks, water, tire chains, and a full tank of gas is also recommended. (There are no gas stations in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.) Visitors may purchase a park pass online (www.recreation.gov/pass) prior to visiting to save time at the entrance gate. Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks have not been able to make free holiday shuttles available for public use. Popular parking areas, such as those at the Giant Forest Museum and both lots at the General Sherman Tree are expected to be crowded. 

Campgrounds, Lodging, and Services

Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon
Opt for a less-traveled area to find solitude even on the busiest of weekends.

The only campgrounds currently open in the parks are Potwisha Campground in the foothills of Sequoia (all sites are reservation only) and Azalea Campground in the Grant Grove area (all sites are first-come, first-served). Availability information and reservations for sites in Potwisha Campground can be found on Recreation.gov

There is no overnight lodging open in the parks during the holiday weekend. Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia is closed through Thursday, December 10, due to staffing challenges as a result of COVID-19. The hotel, restaurant, bar, and gift shop are all closed.

Also due to ongoing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Delaware North-operated lodging and restaurants in Kings Canyon National Park are closed for the winter season. These visitor facilities have a tentative reopening date of April 2, 2021. For additional information on Wuksachi and the Kings Canyon facilities, visit www.visitsequoia.com. Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon

Lodgepole Market in Sequoia is closed for the winter season. Grant Grove Market in Kings Canyon is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. This is the only place where food is available for purchase within both parks, so visitors to the Sequoia side should plan to be self-sufficient in this regard. 

Bears

Bears have been very active in and around the parks, day and night. It is crucial that visitors not approach bears of any size and store food properly. Bears can grab unattended food or easily break into cars that have food in them. Bears that have succeeded in getting human food sometimes become bold and aggressive in attempts to get more. All food or anything with a scent must be stored and out of sight, and trash must be disposed of in bear-resistant cans and dumpsters located throughout the parks.

In all campgrounds and picnic areas, all food, scented items and coolers need to be properly stored in bear boxes. Bears are particularly active in the Grant Grove area and around Potwisha Campground. 

COVID-19 Update

Tulare and Fresno counties continue to be rated “purple” under the new guidance from California Governor Gavin Newsom, indicating that the virus is widespread in these counties. Visitors should understand that there is some risk of exposure to the virus associated with traveling to these areas at this time. Visitors are asked to wear masks in popular areas, socially distance, and be respectful of their fellow visitors and park employees. Visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon

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