One Day In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (2024)

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Want to know how to spend one day in Sequoia and Kings Canyon? We’ve got you covered with everything we did on our day trip!

Spending just one day in Sequoia and Kings Canyon sounds daunting since there’s so much to do and there are always so many crowds.

With our step-by-step itinerary you’ll be able to see all the highlights, stay ahead of the crowds, and have the best time visiting some of California’s best national parks.

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One Day In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Itinerary

Here is a step by step itinerary to see the biggest attractions in both parks, from the largest trees, to the best hiking trails, and more.

1. General Grant Tree Trail

A lot of areas of the park get full after about 10 am, so going early is a necessity.

We arrived just before 8:30 am and started at the General Grant Tree Trail.

This tree is known as “America’s Christmas Tree“.

It’s a pretty short loop, less than a mile, so it was an easy way to start the day.

We spent about 30 minutes here walking the trail and taking pictures of and with the tree.

It was pretty chilly since it was morning and completely shaded.

Once we made it back to the parking lot that we started to see a steady flow of people start coming in.

2. Kings Canyon Panoramic Point

Our second stop was Kings Canyon Panoramic Point.

It was only a 10 minute drive from General Grant Tree Trail.

We only saw a couple other people while we were here and it had amazing views!

It’s a half mile trail there and back, and unfortunately is on an incline, but it’s so short that you’ll be fine if you bring a bottle of water with you.

By 9:30 am we were at the top taking our photos and by 9:45 am we were back in our car.

3. Zumwalt Meadows

The next part of our drive was a bit longer.

We drove to Zumwalt Meadows at the bottom of Kings Canyon National Park.

It is a very scenic drive with lots of winding roads and cliff sides.

It takes a little over an hour to get there, but it took us a tiny bit longer because we pulled over at some of the lookouts to take some photos.

We also came across a river with some pretty quick rapids that we stopped to take a look at.

Once we got to Zumwalt Meadows we finally came across a lot of people.

At this point it was about 11:45 am and we had spent about 5 minutes finding parking.

There were plenty of spots available, but there were a lot of people walking all over and so many cars coming in and out that it just took a few minutes.

We embarked on the Zumwalt Meadow Loop Trail which is about a 1.5 mile loop.

Some of it is dirt, some is a boardwalk, some is right out in the open meadow, and some is heavily wooded.

It was a really nice stroll around the area, despite it being more crowded than the other places we had been so far.

It was really cool being at the bottom of Kings Canyon looking at the huge rocks towering over us and being in such a lush green meadow at the same point.

The views were pretty comparable to the ones in Yosemite, like Tunnel View.

We stayed here for about 45 minutes and then we headed back out the way we came in.

4. Grant Grove Gift Shop

We stopped back near General Grant Grove which was an hour’s drive.

This area is just a few minutes away from where we started at the General Grant Tree Trail.

There’s a gift shop and cafe there and we were stopping in to get our Christmas ornament souvenir.

This is a great stop to get any souvenirs you want or to stop for some quick snacks if you don’t want to have a sit down meal.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Christmas souvenir ornament

5. Lunch At Wuksachi Lodge

Wuksachi Lodge is a little over 45 minutes away.

We saw a couple deer while we were there and that was the most wildlife we saw the whole trip.

We ate lunch from about 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm and I found a souvenir that actually had my name on it!

6. General Sherman Tree

Next on our list was the General Sherman Tree.

It is only about 10 minutes away from the lodge, but at this point in the day it was so crowded that we couldn’t find a parking spot within about a mile of the trail.

Once you park and walk to the shuttle stop, the shuttle will take you to see the General Sherman Tree.

The General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest tree by volume.

7. Tunnel Log At Moro Rock

Tunnel Log is where you can drive through a fallen tree.

The original tunnel tree was never in Sequoia, but since so many visitors seemed to think so, when a tree fell, they decided to cut it out for a drive-thru experience.

Where To Stay When Visiting Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Parks

There are a few options for lodging inside of either park, or nearby hotels just outside the park borders.

✅ Camping In Sequoia National Park

Camping is available seasonally in the park and there are a variety of campgrounds with varying availability of amenities.

There are sites for tent camping, group camping, and RV camping.

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✅ Wuksachi Lodge

Wuksachi Lodge is located right inside Sequoia National Park.

There’s nothing more convenient than being able to stay directly in the park with all the amenities of home.

It regularly books out in advance, so you’ll want to plan your trip well in advance if this is where you’d prefer to stay.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Planning a trip to a National Park can be overwhelming and time consuming.

These are the most frequently asked questions we see about planning a trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

✔️ How Much Time Do You Need For Sequoia And Kings Canyon?

The amount of time you need to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks depends on how much you want to see and do.

If you’re only interested in seeing the highlights, you can probably get away with a day trip.

However, if you want to hike, camp, and explore the parks in depth, you’ll need at least a few days.

✔️ Can You See Kings Canyon In One Day?

Yes, it is possible to see Kings Canyon in one day.

However, you will need to be strategic about your time and plan to hit the highlights.

✔️ Should I Go To Kings Canyon Or Sequoia National Park First?

That depends on what you want to see and do.

If you’re interested in seeing the largest trees in the world, Sequoia National Park is the better choice.

The General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world, is located in Sequoia National Park.

Sequoia National Park also has more groves of giant sequoias than Kings Canyon National Park.

If you’re interested in seeing a deeper canyon, Kings Canyon National Park is the better choice.

Kings Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States, and it’s home to some stunning scenery.

Kings Canyon National Park also has more hiking trails than Sequoia National Park.

If you’re short on time, you may want to consider visiting Sequoia National Park first.

Sequoia National Park is smaller than Kings Canyon National Park, and it’s easier to see the highlights in a day.

✔️ How Long Does It Take To Drive Through Sequoia And Kings Canyon?

The driving time through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks depends on the route you take.

The shortest route is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it can take longer if you stop to hike, picnic, or take in the scenery.

If you want to see the highlights of both parks, I recommend taking the Generals Highway.

This scenic route winds through the parks and offers stunning views of the giant sequoia trees and the surrounding mountains.

The drive from the Ash Mountain Entrance Station in Sequoia National Park to the Big Stump Entrance Station in Kings Canyon National Park takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

If you have more time, I recommend taking the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway.

This route is longer than the Generals Highway, but it offers even more stunning scenery.

The drive from the Big Stump Entrance Station in Kings Canyon National Park to Cedar Grove takes about 3 hours.

Here are some additional tips for driving through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks:

  • Arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.
  • Pack a lunch and snacks to save money.
  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
  • Dress in layers so you can adjust to the changing temperatures.
  • Be prepared for changes in weather conditions.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

More Great National Parks To Visit In California

California is home to 9 of America’s National Parks.

Pair them for an epic California road trip or if you’re a local, take a weekend to visit each one.

Yosemite National Park One Day Itinerary

Yosemite National Park is easily the most well known and popular of the National Parks in California.

There’s so much to do in this park, but the average visitor can see many of the highlights in a one day trip.

Lower Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park

Death Valley National Park One Day Itinerary

Death Valley is in the middle of the desert and is home to the lowest elevation in the US.

It’s an easy visit from Vegas or from Southern California.

I recommend visiting in the shoulder season so it’s not 115+ degrees outside when you visit.

Some of the original Star Wars scenes were filmed here too!

Devil's Golf Course at Death Valley National Park

Channel Islands National Park Santa Cruz Island Day Trip

Santa Cruz Island is one of the most visited islands in the Channel Islands.

It’s an easy boat trip from Ventura Harbor Village.

You schedule your trip in advance for arrival and departure times on the island and you can even choose to stay and camp overnight on the island if you like.

Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park Santa Rosa Island Day Trip

Santa Rosa Island is a bit further out, but can still be visited on a day trip from Ventura.

It takes a little longer to get there and back, but that’s more opportunities for whale watching along the way.

Santa Rosa Island at Channel Islands National Park

Joshua Tree National Park Day Trip Itinerary

Joshua Tree is just outside of Palm Springs and is best paired with a trip to the whole area.

It’s one of the Dark Sky Parks where you can see virtually everything in the sky at night due to its distance from any neighboring cities.

But if you’re visiting just for the day, we have an easy itinerary that takes you through the whole park, ending with the perfect sunset where you can see all the way to Mexico.

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park

 ? Lassen Volcanic National Park One Day Itinerary

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a relatively unknown and severely underrated national park in Northern California.

We paired our trip here with visits to Lake Tahoe and Reno.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Pinnacles National Park One Day Itinerary

Pinnacles is in Central California and it’s known for it’s caves that you can hike through during certain times of the year.

It’s all dependent on not disturbing the bats!

Pinnacles National Park in California

Redwood National Park One Day Itinerary

The Redwoods are along the Northern California coast and are home to some of the largest and tallest trees in the world.

This park is also made up of a bunch of state parks, so there is so much to explore.

Redwoods National Park

Conclusion: Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Parks One Day Itinerary

This Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks one day itinerary takes you through all the highlights in the parks when you’re short on time.

It will probably be busy, so after about 10 am, expect crowds everywhere you go, but if you take the full day to visit, you’ll get to it all.