While forest visits are often thought of as a summertime activity, there is a one-of-a-kind experience to visiting places like Sequoia National Park in winter! This national park is particularly well-loved in the cold months, full of awe-inspiring views, fun recreation, camping opportunities, and more.
Read on for a roundup of all the things to consider before you head out to visit and make memories at Sequoia National Park in winter.
Sequoia National Park Winter Recreation
There are lots of outdoor recreation opportunities to enjoy in Sequoia National Park in winter!
Before placing any of these activities on your must-do list, be sure to have an eye on the weather patterns expected for the time of your visit. Some of these recreations may be difficult or impossible if winter weather impacts the area during your stay.
Cross Country Skiing
One of the greatest appeals to visiting Sequoia National Park in winter is the cross country skiing opportunities! With enough snow on the ground, you can ski through a great portion of this national park.
Of particular draw for skiers are Grant Grove and Giant Forest, which provide skiing trails directly through the towering sequoia groves. This is a fantastic way to behold the breathtaking majesty of these ancient trees at your own pace.
Skilled and familiar skiers can even enjoy some overnight ski trips at Sequoia National Park. Just be sure you are prepared for anything you might face by checking off a good winter camping checklist before you hit the trails for an overnight skiing adventure.
Skiers will need to abide by skiing guidelines when visiting Sequoia National Park in winter. Skiing is prohibited on plowed roads, in residential areas, and anywhere delineated by no-skiing signs.
Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing
Hiking in winter affords a unique opportunity to soak in a different side of nature’s stunning beauty. This type of hiking can even be easier for some folks whose physiology may be more prone to struggling during hot weather hikes.
There are few places better to enjoy a cold season hike than Sequoia National Park in winter. Depending on the snow layer depth, you can either hike the trails or snowshoe them.
If you are snowshoeing in Sequoia National Park, you have the option of a ranger-guided snowshoe walk or a self-guided one. On ranger-guided walks, you will not need to bring your own snowshoes—but do be aware that the minimum age for these walks is 10 years old due to the average snowshoe size.
These ranger-guided walks are moderately strenuous and provide a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the best walking possible in Sequoia National Park in winter. They often begin where there is no snow on the ground and end once snow conditions deteriorate too much for progress.
With self-guided snowshoeing, you can bring your own snowshoes or rent them in Grant Grove, and explore the trails on your own. Just be sure to follow maps and guidelines, avoid snowshoeing on the ski trails, and be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of Sequoia National Park in winter.
Snowplay (Sledding, Snowmen Building, Snowboarding, and More)
A particularly popular activity for families of all ages when visiting Sequoia National Park in winter is snowplay. This involves any kind of snow fun that doesn’t require a sporty mindset or necessarily strenuous activity, such as sledding, tubing, snowboarding, building snowmen, having snowball fights, and much more!
There are three designated areas in Sequoia National Park specifically set aside for snowplay that the whole family can enjoy. These areas can be found in the regions of Wolverton and Grant Grove, with one area in Wolverton and the other two in Grant Grove.
You can rent snowplay gear in these locations and spend hours having fun, making lifelong memories of your time in Sequoia National Park in winter! Just be sure to keep all snowplay out of the nearby residential areas.
Sequoia National Park is an amazing spot for stargazing in all seasons…and wintertime is no exception! Grab a sturdy pair of binoculars and your thick winter coat and spend some time observing the many constellations that are clearest at their ascension this time of year.
Enjoy the Holidays
Are you looking for a holiday getaway, whether alone, in a group, as a family, or for a small reunion? Many folks love to visit Sequoia National Park in winter to enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more!
With the John Muir Lodge boasting decadent meals and the festive General Grant Tree festooned for the holidays each year, Sequoia National Park is actually a wonderful place to plan a holiday celebration away from home.
If you aren’t feeling inclined for lots of time out in the cold weather, but you still want to enjoy the beauty of Sequoia National Park in winter, then have no fear! Winter drives are the perfect way to remain warm and toasty, and still get the best of the scenery that this gorgeous national park has to offer.
Hop in the car with your favorite holiday tunes playing and a thermos of hot coffee or cocoa at the ready, and set off to enjoy a drive. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can tackle the drive from the Ash Mountain entrance to Lodgepole.
This drive is an hour and a half each way, and often requires snow chains even in fall and into early summer due to snow in the upper passes. This route is best for drivers who are experienced with snow, but truly offers some of the most spectacular driving views in Sequoia National Park in winter.
An easier drive for those not as familiar or comfortable with driving in snow is the drive from Lodgepole to Grant Grove. This is another breathtaking winter drive, just a bit shorter and easier. You can also take the scenic drives from Grant Grove to Hume Lake, or from Fresno to the Big Stump Entrance Station and Grant Grove.
Sequoia National Park Winter Camping
Where to Camp
There are several year-round campgrounds open at Sequoia National Park. However, it is always important to check the status of these campgrounds year to year, as there are some years where violent winter storms may damage them, necessitating they be shut down for repairs.
Two popular year round campgrounds are Potwisha Campground and Azalea Campground. Barring extreme weather, these are typically open in the cold months and make for great camping at Sequoia National Park in winter.
What to Bring
While it’s important to have the right camping gear in all seasons, in wintertime it is especially crucial to ensure you have the right items on hand and the proper gear to withstand the elements. Be sure to check out our winter camping checklist to ensure you have the most important items on hand before you visit Sequoia National Park in winter!
Several items you will definitely want to make sure you have on hand are cold weather sleeping bags, a reliable RV heater if you are RV camping, winter clothing such as coats, hats, hand protection, thick socks and sturdy boots, and the like.
Places to Stay Outside Sequoia National Park
Dog-Friendly Rental Cabin
If you’re planning a visit to Sequoia National Park in winter with your four-legged family members, you may be on the hunt for somewhere that’s a little easier on human and animal campers alike in the cold weather.
A great option in this situation is this dog friendly rental cabin not far outside Sequoia National Park. Located just off the highway, this cabin is easily accessible even for folks unfamiliar with the area, and it provides a great retreat just an easy drive from the park itself.
With three bedrooms and two bathrooms, this cabin is a fantastic option for mid-sized families or groups with their animals to settle in and keep warm while vacationing to Sequoia National Park in winter.
Looking for an unforgettable retreat that’s a step up from rustic camping not far from Sequoia National Park? This gorgeous riverfront cottage is just waiting for you!
Outfitted with a hot tub, a fully furnished kitchen, and a beautiful open-concept design, this riverfront cottage makes for a great retreat after a full day of skiing, hiking, and snowplay in the national park.
Here you can relax, throw together a home-cooked crockpot meal, and enjoy the stunning views of nearby mountains and the breathtaking majesty of this slice of the world. All with the comforts of home right at your fingertips.
Camp Ikigai at Ikigai Animal Sanctuary
Animal lovers looking for a place to stay outside of Sequoia National Park will enjoy the unique camping experience available at Camp Ikigai at Ikigai Animal Sanctuary. In addition to sharing the land with some beautiful animals, campers can also enjoy on-site guided activities such as mushroom hunting, rock collecting, birdwatching, and more.
If you have a vested interest in animal welfare and love to be around four-legged companions, this is the perfect spot for your camping needs outside of Sequoia National Park in winter.
Sequoia National Park Winter Safety Considerations
Before you head to Sequoia National Park in winter, it’s imperative to be aware of the volatile weather conditions of this region. Snowstorms can strike quickly and inflict a lot of damage, closing down roads and causing issues with the campgrounds, skiing trails, and more.
While you are visiting Sequoia National Park in winter, be sure you have a way to monitor the winter weather conditions. Also, make sure you have a plan of action should issues arise with the weather, in order to keep yourself and anyone with you safe and healthy.
There are many animals that are active throughout Sequoia National Park in winter. This diverse wildlife spans the gamut from predator animals to prey and can include wolves, bears, mountain lions, wolverines, deer, sheep, and more.
Always take safety precautions, especially when exploring less inhabited areas such as by snowshoe or ski trail. Carrying a safety whistle and wild animal repellent can help as an added safety measure.
Winter Safety Skills
Before heading out to visit Sequoia National Park in winter, be sure to brush up on your winter safety skills. Make sure you know how to tackle things like superficial frostbite, treating and preventing hypothermia, checking for ice thickness, and building a winter fire pit.
Wrapping up Your Sequoia National Park Winter Trip
Are you feeling ready to visit Sequoia National Park in winter? Before you take off on your adventure, be sure to check out our roundup of the best winter camping gear! This can help you ensure you have everything you need, from tent camping to hammock camping necessities and more.