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The Ultimate Kings Canyon National Park Camping Guide

A gem of the untamed California wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park and its sister park, Sequoia, help protect over 800,000 acres of precious, rugged natural landscape. Camping here is at the top of many a camper’s bucket list—and if that includes you, you’ve come to the perfect place! Our Kings Canyon National Park Camping Guide is here to help prepare you for a fantastic visit to this gorgeous park. Read on to learn all you need to know about camping at Kings Canyon!

What to Expect While Camping At Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park camping
Kings Canyon National Park

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park camping boasts a powerful array of scenic landscapes, from high to low elevations, all sporting breathtaking sights including sprawling lake basins, soaring granite peaks, spectacular glacial canyons, and famously gorgeous meadows. This park is beloved by travelers from all over the United States who visit for the opportunity to take in its sweeping beauty and preserved wilderness, and it partners with Sequoia National Park to help preserve and protect the valuable ecosystems and land formations in this region of California.

Kings Canyon National Park Camping

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

While camping at Kings Canyon National Park, you will find a total of 14 campgrounds, 3 of which are open year-round. Each individual campsite has a capacity of up to 6 people, with group campsites accommodating many more, and campsites include the amenities of a picnic table, a fire ring with a grill, and a metal box for secure food storage. Please be aware that most of these campgrounds require advanced reservations—which can be made no more than 30 days prior to your intended visit date—and all tend to fill up quickly!

The seasonal campgrounds vary greatly in their open and close dates, some opening as early as March and some remaining available as late as November—though the majority are typically open from around Memorial Day until October. These open and close dates can fluctuate each year based on conditions as well. It is always best practice to verify the operation dates of your campground of choice as you plan your Kings Canyon National Park camping adventure!

Best Kings Canyon National Park Camping Spots

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

Of the 14 total campgrounds at Kings Canyon National Park, 3 are open all year (subject to any local hazardous conditions such as wildfires, etc.) and 11 are open on a seasonal basis.

The 3 year-round campgrounds are Azalea Campground, South Fork Campground, and Potwisha Campground. Azalea is a great pick for tent, RV, and trailer campers; South Fork is particularly popular for RVs; and Potwisha is a bit more rugged, not recommended for low clearance vehicles.

The 11 seasonal campgrounds are:

  • Cold Springs Campground
  • Atwell Mill Campground
  • Buckeye Flat Campground
  • Lodgepole Campground
  • Dorst Creek Campground
  • Sunset Campground
  • Crystal Springs Campground
  • Sentinel Campground
  • Sheep Creek Campground
  • Canyon View Campground
  • Moraine Campground

These are scattered throughout the park, generally near forested areas, with some allowing tent camping only while others have provisions for vehicle access. It’s always encouraged to check the individual site you’re interested in to ensure it meets all your requirements before booking a reservation.

Group camping is available at South Fork year-round (tent, car, and RV allowed), and seasonally at Sunset, Crystal Springs, and Canyon view (tent and car only).

The majority of campgrounds allow for tent and vehicle camping, with some vehicle restrictions at various sites. Pets are permitted on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Campgrounds observe quiet hours between 10pm and 6am, with generator hours between 9 am and 9 pm (Note: Lodgepole and Dorst Creek Campgrounds permit the use of generators from 8 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 8 pm). Outside of quiet hours, music, talking, and other noise should not be audible beyond your immediate campsite area.

All campers should be prepared to store food safely in odor minimizing containers due to the abundance of curious wildlife in Kings Canyon National Park.

Booking Kings Canyon National Park Camping

South Fork Campground does not require reservations, and Potwisha and Azalea campgrounds do not require reservations in the off-season. For all other campgrounds, due to the popularity of Kings Canyon National Park, it’s recommended to book as soon as possible within the 30-day window prior to your intended camping visit. All campsite reservations can be made at the recreation.gov website.

Things To Do While Camping at Kings Canyon National Park

Camping at Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

No matter what season you’re planning your visit, there’s an abundance of recreational activities available to enjoy at Kings Canyon National Park and its sister park, Sequoia!

Day hiking, overnight backpacking, exploring the natural soundscapes, watching wildlife, and enjoying foothill hikes are all popular ventures for those who are fond of getting out in nature and exploring on foot all the beauty that Kings Canyon has to offer! In the summer, you can also experience the wonders of this park via horseback riding—on your own horse or one provided by the park—as well as embrace the challenge of rock climbing, make the ascent up Moro Rock, navigate the Crystal Cave, or attend the Dark Sky Festival and witness the beauty of the unpolluted night sky!

A whole host of new activities are available in the cold months, including skiing, snowshoeing, snow play, and winter drives and scenic routes. Many folks love to take advantage of picnicking and hiking opportunities even in the winter, as well!

In addition, you’ll find ranger programs for both adults and children in all seasons, as well as visitor centers open to the public in both the warm and cold months for a fun, educational break from the heat or the cold!

Wildlife

Black Bear, Kings Canyon National Park

Due to the impressive elevation range in Kings Canyon and Sequoia, there is an abundance of habitats present that boast home to many species of wildlife!

In the lower hills, you may encounter native animals such as bobcats, gray foxes, skunks, black bears, quail, snakes, lizards, and various rodents. In the montane forests and meadows, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, squirrels, and bears make their home, with the occasional sighting of tanagers, warblers, and other resident birds among the fir, pine, and sequoia trees; less common in this range are reptiles, though occasionally you can spot a kingsnake, boa, and several types of lizards. In the higher subalpine and alpine areas, you’re more likely to encounter marmots, pika, and jackrabbits, as well as hardy finches, mountain bluebirds, and American pipits.

Regardless of which regions of Kings Canyon you visit or at what time of day, you’re likely to encounter at least some of the majestic wildlife that calls the park home!

Vegetation / Geography

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

The landscape of Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia is beautifully variegated, ranging from gentler foothills to breathtaking alpine heights. Caves, lakes, and ponds pepper the terrain, while rivers roar and carve through it as they have for thousands of years, eroding impressive designs into stone and soil.

Within these steeply graded environments, you’ll encounter vegetation just as diverse, from dense oak woodlands in the foothills to sparse pines in the subalpine and hardy flora in the upper alpine. Wildflowers and shrubs can be found in meadows up to the higher elevations—and of course, you can’t forget the infamous, towering sequoias themselves, which many campers travel from across the nation to witness! The landscape and vegetation in Kings Canyon alone are worth the visit!

Make Sure To Bring

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

It’s important to come prepared for your Kings Canyon National Park camping adventure. This area is famous for inclement weather in its various landscapes, and storms can occur at any time of year.

With this in mind, make certain all your camping equipment is in good repair! Tents and tarps should be free of tears or any other compromise, sleeping gear such as sleeping bags, blankets, etc. should be graded to withstand potential cool and damp conditions, and you’ll want to ensure you have a means of protecting and securing all loose items in case of high winds during a storm. It’s recommended to invest in good, waterproof gear and rain-repellant clothing when possible. Campers should also invest in storage containers for food, deodorant, and other aromatic items in order to deter curious wildlife, primarily bears.

In addition, it’s wise to bring a well-stocked first aid kit, a map, GPS, and compass, extra water and snacks, and a whistle or other wildlife deterrent for your safety while exploring the park. Layered clothing appropriate for the season, sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses; sturdy footwear and insect repellant are also recommended for hikers and backpackers. For those adventuring near water, a good waterproof pair of shoes and an extra pair of socks may come in handy.

Park Fees

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

When planning your Kings Canyon National Park camping trip, there are some fees to be aware of:

Passes (from 1-7 days)

  • Vehicle Pass – $35.00
  • Motorcycle Pass – $30.00
  • Individual Entry Pass (on foot for bicycle) – $20.00
  • Group Pass – from $20.00 to $200.00 depending on group size.

There are per night camping fees, which can vary year by year and will be available in their updated cost when you make your reservation at recreation.gov

Reviews

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park holds a general 4.5 out of 5 star rating among visitors and campers; it’s praised for its overall beauty and accessibility for folks of all needs, as well as for being a less crowded alternative to its popular sister park, Sequoia. The cleanliness and quiet beauty of the campgrounds have also garnered high praise among campers.

Some visitors have complained about the park’s layout being a bit confusing and difficult to navigate, but most have not claimed this to be a deterrent to visiting or camping at this gorgeous park in the least!

Wrapping Up Kings Canyon National Park Camping

We hope you found our Kings Canyon National Park Camping Guide helpful in preparing for your visit to the park! Let us know what you’re most excited to experience at Kings Canyon in the comments below!

Ready for more California camping? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Humboldt Redwoods State Park Camping and The Complete Guide To Death Valley National Park Camping!

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