Explore Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks With Wildland Trekking

Located in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California lies the awe-inspiring Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Encompassing nearly half of the north-south distance of California, the Sierras span a vast array of terrain. But the very best of what the Sierras have to offer can be found right here in Sequoia-Kings Canyon.

Appropriately referred to as “The Range of Light,” the Sierras are home to glistening high mountain lakes nestled under sparkling granite peaks. You’ll find rumbling waterfalls whose rivers flow into deep groves of giant Sequoia trees, and excellent wildlife habitat everywhere you look. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park offers what some consider to be some of the best remote backpacking in the Sierras and is home to one of the largest groves of Sequoia Trees and the highest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney.

Come be inspired by two of America’s oldest national parks. Together, Sequoia and Kings Canyon cover 1,353 square miles, 97% of which is an established wilderness area, leaving you ample room and opportunity to explore and adventure in a beautiful landscape. Our trips take you from the humbling tree forests into the jaw-drawing alpine of the Sierras, providing gear, meals, and a professional guide.


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About the Park and When To Go

This beautiful area spans two adjacent parks connected by Grant Grove and Cedar Grove, home to the Giant Sequoia trees. These parks, Sequoia Park and Kings Canyon Park, are managed together by the National Park Service to create Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.

Sequoia Park is named after the largest individual trees in the world, the Sequoiadendron Giganteum, commonly known as the Giant Sequoia Tree. These trees can live to be over 3,000 years old, with the tallest of them growing to be 275ft high. Two must-see trees in Sequoia-Kings National Park are the General Sherman and General Grant Trees – the two tallest trees in the park. Just imagine what these trees have seen and what has passed by them over 3,000 years. These are trees of (pre)historic proportions!

The second park, Kings Canyon National Park, is named after a deep, glacially-carved canyon where the King River flows. This canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the United States, rivaling the Grand Canyon. King canyon plummets over one mile straight down, creating steep vertical terrain that looks rugged and wild in sharp contrast with the beautiful vegetation near its riverbeds. These sights will leave your hearts full and jaws dropped.

The weather in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks varies throughout the year. From summer hikes amongst the granite peaks to snowshoeing in a winter wonderland under the snow-covered Sequoias, there is something for everyone. To get the most out of your trip, it’s essential to consider where in the park you want to visit along with seasonal weather patterns.

High Season

Summer, from Mid-June to late August, is the most popular time to visit the parks. This period is when the weather is most stable, and most of the park is accessible.  The days are long, providing you with plenty of sunlight to adventure all day and enjoy everything the parks have to offer. You can experience a range of temperatures depending on where you are in terrain and elevation. Be sure to check out any campfire restrictions as some areas may become dry and hot over these months. The park service works hard to create healthy prescribed fires and keep travelers up-to-date on any wildfires or prescribed fires that may occur in the area. We recommend signing up for email updates from the Park Service if you plan on visiting.

During the high season, some parts of the region may be hot. The Sequoia trees offer comfortable shade from the sun, but you can expect direct sun exposure and a wide range of temperatures as you climb higher. Temperatures can vary from the 40s at night into the 70s during the day. This high season is also the parks’ driest time, but you may encounter the occasional evening thunderstorm, so always be prepared!

Shoulder Season

The autumn – September to Late October – and Spring – April to June – offer cooler temperatures, unpredictable weather, and less access to park areas. You may have snowfall beginning in early autumn and lasting until the spring melt creates fast-moving creeks and rivers. Temperatures in the shoulder seasons span from highs in the 50s and 60s degrees Fahrenheit to lows in the 30s and 40s. Due to the variety in temperatures during the shoulder seasons, it is best to be prepared and bring plenty of layers.

There are certainly some benefits to shoulder seasons, however. Many hikers and adventurers look forward to the reduced traffic and fewer crowds at the park. If the timing is right, the shoulder season explorer can also bask in the joy of viewing wildflowers in the spring and changing colors in the autumn. For some, this is a preferred way to experience the park.

Low Season

The low season in the park generally spans from November to the end of March. This period can change year to year, depending on temperature and snow conditions. During this time, roads may be closed, tire chains required, and some facilities and services may not be available in some areas of the park. This winter season is also the time of year that the park experiences the most precipitation – ranging from rain, to low hanging fog, to snow. The temperatures typically range from highs in the 40s degrees Fahrenheit to lows in the 20s.

The perks of winter include unique opportunities to ski and snowshoe amongst the Sequoias. You may also be able to enjoy wildflowers this time of year and enjoy cooler hiking temperatures at lower elevations. Solitude is abundant and you’ll be sure to experience the quiet and serene nature of this park!

Deeper Dive: More About When to Visit

Park History

Sequoia-Kings Canyon Parks have a rich history to appeal to every traveler’s inner history buff.

Long before the parks were established, they were inhabited by Native American Tribes who used many of the mountain passes as trade routes. The Native peoples’ populations declined as European explorers and settlers began entering the park due to new illnesses, such as smallpox. The initial European explorers were of Spanish descent and were attracted to the park due to the abundance of resources available. Over time, larger populations of European settlers entered the area for Logging, trapping, and other means of extracting resources. This increased industry fueled further exploration into the park along with road building to make it more accessible.

Well known explorer, naturalist, and writer, John Muir was said to be the person who brought wider attention to the park, which led to its establishment at the second national park in the United States by President Benjamin Harison in 1890.

Transportation Within The Parks

Transportation within the parks is thankfully straightforward thanks to the Sequoia Shuttle, which offers free transportation within the park boundaries For a small fee, shuttles also travel to some neighboring communities for a hassle-free visit. Similar shuttles are also available over select dates in the fall and winter months for holidays. If you’re planning on driving yourself, the National Park Service recommends checking for road closures and driving conditions prior to arriving. For the adventurous folks looking to venture out in the snow, tire chains may come in handy and are also recommended.

Wildlife

The Sequoia-Kings Canyon area is home to a variety of wildlife due to the abundance of terrain – from foothills to high alpine. 

The greatest variety of wildlife can be found in the summer months in the lower forests where food is most abundant. Animals such as bear, deer, fox, and bobcat are often spotted going about their business. The warm summer months also offer opportunities to view alpine and subalpine mammals. These include Marmots, Pika, and the newly reintroduced Bighorn Sheep.

Currently, the park service is hard at work to maintain and grow the population of Sierra Nevada Big Horn Sheep, who are now present again in the park after a 100-year hiatus. Since their reintroduction, there are currently 11 herds of sheep in the park. Their low numbers and recent reintroduction make catching a glimpse of the sheep an even more memorable moment!

Another creature to be on the lookout for is a resident black bear. The American Black Bear makes its home across the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Parks, along with most of the Sierra mountain range. They move about the park throughout the seasons based on changing food sources and hibernation habits. They are a fascinating sight to behold – from a distance.

Trip Dates

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks are immensely popular destinations. Our trips, therefore, fill up very quickly and we highly recommend that you visit our trip dates page, select the month you wish to visit the area and view our scheduled trips.

Climate Information

As we mentioned earlier, the weather in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon area can be unpredictable at times. Extreme differences in elevation also play a massive role in the temperature and weather patterns to expect. Therefore, we highly recommend that you keep a close eye on the Sequoia-Kings Canyon weather forecast as your adventure start date approaches.

 

Wildland Trips by Month

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Trip Styles

Backpacking Trips

If solitude and variety are what you are looking for, you’ll be sure to find it while exploring the beautiful alpine terrain of the High Sierras and the Great Forest of Sequoia trees in Sequoia-King Canyon Parks on one of our backpacking trips. Trip options are available throughout the beautiful summer months and into early autumn and include spectacular views, delicious guide-prepared meals, and an unforgettable experience. Trust us; nothing compares with the majesty of these towering trees and mountain peaks.

See Sequoia-Kings Canyon Park Backpacking Trips

Deeper Dive: Our Top Recommended Trips

Rae Lakes Loop: Our #1 Recommended Sequoia-Kings Trip

The challenge and scenery provided on the Rae Lakes Loop make it our number one recommended backpacking trip in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Climb from the forests past pyramid-like peaks and gushing waterfalls. Enter John Muir’s high sierra environment and cross paths with the famous John Muir Trail. We’ll pass by many pristine lakes and streams during our journey that are perfect for fly fishing or a cool post-hike dip.

Your tired muscles and content adventuring soul will be ready for a good night’s rest under the towering peaks and star-filled sky. This trip is the perfect mix of work and relaxation. On your rest day, you can enjoy camp or push yourself to hike to the top of Cotter Peak, where you will be rewarded with astonishing, panoramic views. Just picture the beautiful peaks basking in the cotton candy colors of a mountain sunset.

Trip Highlights:

  • Pristine alpine lakes, rivers, streams
  • Campsites with jaw-dropping views
  • A layover day to explore the alpine, find some marmots or pika, and more!
  • Climb to astonishing vistas overlooking beautiful mountain passes and valleys

Learn more and book your Rae Lakes Loop trip today!

All Wildland Trip Styles


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Need to Know

While we’re happy to cover all logistics during your adventure, there are still a few items you’ll need to schedule and reserve before leaving for your epic Sequoia-Kings Canyon trip.

Primary Departure Point For Sequoia-Kings

The primary departure city for the  Sequoia-Kings Canyon is Fresno, CA. Many major airlines service this city, providing ample options for easy travel arrangements. Rental cars and other transportation options may be available for your convenience to get to our rendezvous destination.

Book in Advance

The prime travel season for the Sequoia-Kings Canyon area is relatively short, meaning that trips to fill up fast. Therefore, we highly recommend that you reserve your hotel and flights as soon as possible after confirming your tour with Wildland. This early booking will ensure you get what you need and not have to scramble for reservations at the last moment.

Keep in mind that planning ahead also gives you time to prepare your mind and body for the physical demands of an epic hiking trip in the mountains. You can also use this time to identify items you may need to buy, borrow, or rent for the trip.

Lodging

The recommended lodging for all our trips to Sequoia-Kings National Parks is the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresno, CA. Arriving early is advised as there is an orientation meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. the day before your trip departure. Our guides will contact you approximately two weeks before your tour to confirm your meeting time and location. If you choose to stay at this recommend hotel, you can arrange to store extra luggage and park your car for the duration of your trip.

Transportation

Travel for our Wildland Trekking trips in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks is thankfully very straightforward. The local Fresno airport offers car rentals for flexibility and convenience. Uber and taxis also service the airport for quick transportation to your hotel. If you’re staying at the recommend Wyndham Garden Hotel – where your hiking tour will begin and end – all your transportation from the trip start to finish is covered. However, if you’re staying at a different hotel, you will need to discuss a rendezvous with your guide and be prepared to arrange transportation to the arranged meeting place.

General Travel Advice

For more information on our Sequoia-Kings Canyon adventures and logistics, please visit our travel resources page. Scroll down to the Sequoia-Kings Canyon section, located underneath the ‘California’ heading. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact Wildland Trekking any day of the week at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453).

Deeper Dive: More Need to Know Info

Trip Insurance

For many people, the draw to travel and adventure is the great unknown. The thrill of discovering a new and exciting place. Mostly, the unknowns are good, new, and exciting. However, part of the thrill of the unknown is that anything can happen. This uncertainty is especially true when mother nature is in control, and you are on an active adventure!

In the mountains, anything can happen. From illness to injury or even bad weather, it is always good to be prepared. Being prepared can come in handy even before you leave the comfort of home. Family emergencies, illness, travel delays, and weather can disrupt the best of travel plans and cause plenty of stress. 

Wildland trekking does everything possible to provide the best trip possible, filled with memorable unknowns. However, we also want to make it as stress-free as possible by recommending travel insurance. Not only will the cost of the trip be covered through Wildland Trekking, but travel insurance will also cover flights, hotels, and travel costs related to surprises that can get in your way.

For more information on Wildland Trekking trip insurance, visit our Trip Insurance page.

Packing List

With the variety in mountain weather and temperature, it is essential to pack for a variety of conditions. Remember, layering clothing is key. Layering allows you to adjust your temperature and comfort based on the time of day and how hard you’re working. Here are a few trip essentials that are important to consider.  

Non-cotton layers that wick sweat and dry quickly are a must. They’ll help keep you both warm and dry during our hiking adventures.  Warm wool or fleece mid-layers are also essential for chilly weather. Above all else, don’t forget proper rain gear. Steer away from disposable plastic ponchos as you may need rainwear to stand up to long days while wearing a pack. As always, we hope for great weather and clear skies! However, it’s still best to be prepared for anything. This preparation will allow you to rest easy and stay comfortable for the entire trip.

Additionally, backpacking trips often involve long days of moving across a variety of sometimes rugged, rough terrain. Therefore, it’s vital to think carefully about what you wear on your feet. We highly recommend sturdy and comfortable hiking boots with good lugs and ankle support.  Be sure to break in your boots beforehand, as using them brand new on a long trip can lead to pain and blisters. Wearing them around the house and on short walks is a great way to start. This early break-in will ensure comfort, support, and confidence while you explore miles into the wilderness.

See The Full Packing List

The above recommendations are only the start of some essentials to ensure a great mountain experience. The Wildland Trekking Packing List offers a comprehensive list of recommended clothes and other gear to pack. It is important to remember that this is only a general packing list. The details of what and how much you pack may vary depending on route, length, and trip style. When your guide makes contact about 2 weeks before departure, they will provide more detailed packing information. If any questions arise, feel free to call us at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453).

Conditioning

Hiking through the mountains with all you need on your back can be satisfying, but also physically demanding. Being prepared and in shape will make for a much more enjoyable experience. You will need to prepare to hike many days in a row, with weight on your back, and a little less oxygen as you climb up to the alpine lakes. Training for a trip may include some cardiovascular work, weight training, and good nutrition and hydration.  The more you prepare, the more you will be able to enjoy the views and bask in your surroundings, For those looking for some guidance on getting ready for your trip, take a look Wildland Trekking offers Training Tips to get you where you need to be to get the most out of your trip. 


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Have Questions?

Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Contact Us


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Trip Information

For more information about all your options, check out our Sequoia-Kings Canyon page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.

 

See Main Sequoia-Kings Canyon Page!

 

 

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Explore Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks With Wildland Trekking
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Explore Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks With Wildland Trekking
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Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks is absolutely bursting with incredible scenery and hiking opportunities. Join us as we explore Wildland Trekking's phenomenal hiking tours to the region, along with all the logistical information you need for a seamless trip.
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The Wildland Trekking Company
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BestDraft LLC

One of Wildland's guides – Dan Purdy – founded BestDraft LLC to produce stellar content for the outdoor industry. The organization has since grown to include a talented team of hiking, climbing, and traveling adventurers who all share a passion for writing. Visit us at: https://www.bestdraftllc.com/