Sequoia National Forest camping is some of the best that California has to offer. Sequoia National Forest is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and boasts over 1.1 million acres spanning 3 counties.
Sequoia National Forest camping comes in all shapes and sizes, from historic cabins to Dispersed Camping, and everything in between. There are over 52 campgrounds to choose from when you’re looking at Sequoia National Forest camping, so there’s a perfect space for everyone.
In addition, there are a ton of recreational activities, and the park is famous for the Land of Giants which has some of the largest sequoia trees in the world.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know for the best Sequoia National Forest camping trip!
What to Expect
The best time to visit Sequoia National Forest is in the summer. From June through August, the daytime highs average around 90 with chilly nights in the upper 40s — great evening campfire weather (with a campfire permit, of course)!
The big claim to fame for this forest is that it contains the highest concentrations of groves of giant sequoia trees anywhere in the world. So if you’re a fan of nature and trees, there are photo ops, galore!
Regarding camping, you’ll make online reservations for campgrounds or cabins in Sequoia National Forest by visiting the Forest Department website. They have links for cabins, campgrounds, dispersed campsites, and campsites for groups.
If you plan to stay overnight in the Golden Trout Wilderness, you’ll need to get a free wilderness permit before heading there.
Want to camp with your canine family member? Sequoia National Forest is dog-friendly as long as they’re on a leash for safety while inside the forest grounds. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to enjoy beautiful hikes among those famous trees with your four-legged companions.
Camping at Sequoia
Sequoia National Forest camping offers 52 separate campgrounds broken down into three main districts: Hume Lake Ranger, Kern River Ranger, and Western Divide Ranger. Each one is unique in its topography and what it has to offer.
All the districts have historic cabins you can rent as well as developed campgrounds and plenty of space for dispersed camping. The dispersed camping is true “roughing it” and those who partake in it are encouraged to “leave no trace” to preserve the beauty of the park, which you can read more about in our 7 Leave No Trace Principles for Camping post.
Hume Lake Ranger District
The Hume Lake Ranger District is a great option for Sequoia National Forest camping. This district is the northernmost portion of Sequoia and neighbors Kings Canyon. The Hume district is 195,606 acres with over 1,000 feet of elevation, making it a great place to hike. There are 113 miles of trails within the Hume Lake District.
This is one of our top choices for Sequoia National Forest camping because of its 13 sequoia groves and 2 wilderness areas where some of the best wildlife lives. In addition, it has more developed campgrounds than any other site, making it the largest district for Sequoia National Forest camping.
In addition to the developed campsites and room for dispersed camping, there are 2 cabins you can rent in the Hume Lake Ranger district that are along the water so they’re perfect for boaters or fishers that want more than a tent to sleep in.
Kern River Ranger District
The Kern River Ranger District offers some unique features that differentiate it from other areas for Sequoia National Forest camping. In the winter there’s a ski resort that operates and offers skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding as well as tubing.
There’s a full recreation area with a shooting range, the Nuui Cunni Native American Intertribal Culture Center, five commercial whitewater outfitters so you can take on some rafting or kayaking, and summer marinas as well.
Kern River offers 578 miles worth of trails, so if you are looking for some serious hiking when planning your Sequoia National Forest camping trip, this district could be perfect for you. It’s 663,000 acres and has rivers as well as a high desert.
There are 25 campgrounds for overnight stays, and 10 developed campgrounds for day-use which is great for families. The Kern River Ranger District is probably the most family-friendly location for Sequoia National Forest camping, given the amount of activities available, the varied difficulty of trails, and the day-use campgrounds.
Though it’s in the Western Divide Ranger District, the Trail of 100 Giants is a short drive from the Kern River Ranger District. This area, discussed more below, is famous for its massive sequoia trees!
Western Divide Ranger District
The last district to consider for your Sequoia National Forest camping trip is the Western Divide Ranger District. This area encompasses the southern portion of the area and includes some of the best scenery that Sequoia has to offer.
The Western Divide Ranger District includes the famous Trail of 100 Giants. This trail is made up of some of the largest trees in the world and lends itself to the park’s name – giant sequoia trees that are estimated to be 1,500 years old.
This is also the area where tunnels have been cut into the trees so you can drive through them. The main trail is 1.3 miles and paved, allowing you to drive it, however there are other trails in the area if you want to explore more. The grove of trees encompasses over 340 acres with sequoias up to 220 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
In addition to the Trail of 100 Giants, there are 296 miles of trails throughout this district. You can visit Dome Rock and see incredible views of the surrounding area, or hike the backcountry to the Golden Trout Wilderness where many wild animals live.
In addition to 9 developed campgrounds, there are a few rental cabins available seasonally. If you decide to camp here in the winter, there are cross-country skiing and snowmobile routes throughout.
Activities at Sequoia
When you are planning your Sequoia National Forest camping trip, you’ll have a ton of activities to choose from. Each district is unique in what it offers, but generally all have tons of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
There are whitewater rapids for kayaking and rafting, as well as calmer water for boating and fishing. There are over 2,617 rivers and streams, and 158 ponds and lakes – so you have plenty to choose from!
If you want to do some more structured activities, you can check out the recreation area for a shooting range, Native American Culture Center, and day-use campgrounds.
If you’re more into dispersed camping you can go off trail as long as you “leave no trace” when you leave. This is a great way to see the wildlife that Sequoia has to offer.
Wildlife, Plantlife, and Geography
Sequoia National Forest camping trips can offer you a chance to see some varied and unique wildlife. The wildlife population is huge but some of the coolest animals that call Sequoia home are bobcats, American black bears, grizzly bears, moose, hundreds of different bird species including hawks and condors, and more. Seasonality will play into what animals you see, but there’s always an opportunity to spot some wildlife.
Besides the giant sequoia groves and the massive trees in the Trail of 100 Giants, there are many plants that call the park home. You can see hundreds or thousands of species of California indigenous plants that support the wildlife throughout. Some of the plants you can spot are conifer trees, sugar pines, white fir, and ponderosa pines.
Sequoia offers the Moro Rock granite dome which is a geological masterpiece that’s a huge attraction for visitors. This massive peak offers breathtaking views for miles and is one of many granite peaks that offer scenic views – some are a short hike but many are a few miles from the trailhead.
Go Camping at Sequoia National Forest!
If you’re planning a Sequoia National Forest camping trip you’re going to have lots to do. Whether it’s hiking, boating, rafting, fishing, spotting wildlife or the Trail of 100 Giants, there’s sure to be something for everyone. No matter which district you visit, you’re sure to see some of the massive sequoia groves that give the park its name. Each district has a unique offering, so check out which one suits your plans the best.
For more great national forest locations to camp, check out our Campgrounds page which has many great camping guides for your next trip!
- About the Author
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Aaron Leeper is an avid camper, hiker, and outdoorsmen. Having spent over two decades honing the skills, Aaron has done it all from bushwhacking to guided climbs and everything in-between. With a bachelors from Skidmore College, Aaron has long focused on writing as a passion and loves to write about his favorite outdoor hobbies