From purple peaks dusted with snow to evergreen trees laced with frost, here is your ultimate Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks winter travel guide.
Take in the beauty of freezing mornings and frozen icicles during your winter stay in the mountains. Check out these five can’t-miss destinations nestled among snowcapped summits in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range.
To experience the magic of Grant Grove, head up to John Muir Lodge in early January. Essential items on the packing list include snowsuits, warm gloves and sturdy snow boots to stay dry as you navigate slick ice and snow. Tire chains are another must-have to stay safe on slippery roads. If you plan on an overnight stay outside of a designated campground, make sure to purchase the mandatory wilderness permit and bring animal-proof containers to store food. For a moderately difficult activity, hike, snowshoe or ski 0.5 miles to the Panoramic Point overlook viewing area and gaze down on frozen Hume Lake.
Crunch through frosty snow on a ranger-guided snowshoe walk among ice-crusted giant Sequoias. At Grant Grove, rangers provide snowshoes for visitors to strap on for a free two-hour, two-mile-long guided walk through the woods. No experience is necessary to participate in the moderately strenuous walk, but hikers must be 10 years or older. The National Park Service recommends bringing water and snacks on the snowshoe walk and suggests wearing layers of warm clothing, waterproof shoes and sunscreen to make the most of the adventure.
General Grant Trail
Nicknamed “the nation’s Christmas tree,” the General Grant tree is a majestic 3,000-year-old sequoia. Just one mile away from the Kings Canyon Visitor Center is an easy 0.7 mile-long loop trail with an up-close view of the giant 267-foot tall tree. Along the trail, make sure to stop inside the Gamlin Cabin, a primitive one-room log hut built in 1872. Another must-see is the Fallen Monarch, an enormous hollow tree that transformed into a walk-through tunnel upon its collapse.
A haven of seclusion, Wuksachi Lodge is a charming alpine resort hidden high in the Sierra Nevada mountains at an elevation of 7,200 feet. To reach the lodge, take a side path off Generals Highway, a winding road filled with switchbacks that curves through enormous Sequoia trees. Upon arrival, check in at the main building of the lodge, which includes a restaurant and gift shop, before heading to one of the 102 guestrooms. The deep drifts and steep hills make for perfect sled runs, so strap on your snow boots and head out for an unforgettable ride.
General Sherman Trail
The 0.5 mile General Sherman Tree Trail is located just two miles from Wuksachi Lodge. The paved path gets you up close to the towering General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree by volume at an impressive 52,500 cubic feet. The trail is icy in the winter, so bring boots and be careful not to step in slick ski tracks. For easy access to the trailhead, take advantage of the park’s free winter shuttle service that travels from Lodgepole and Wuksachi to the Sherman Tree shuttle stop.
Experience the winter wonderland tucked in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains by visiting these hidden gems.