Highway section between Sequoia and Kings Canyon to close
The road between the parks from the Wuksachi junction to the Highway 180 intersection will close Tuesday, November 26, at 4 p.m., in preparation for the storm that is forecast to bring up to four feet of snow to the Giant Forest and Grant Grove areas.
Tire chain restrictions will be in place, with longer waiting periods expected at entrance stations, and possible road closures due to snow accumulation.
Visitors are encouraged to call 559-565-3341 (dial 1, then 1) for current road and weather conditions prior to driving up to the parks.
Winter storm conditions and precautions
Weather forecasts for the Thanksgiving weekend call for heavy snow and temperatures as low as 15 degrees at around 6,700 feet in elevation. Visitors will be required to have tire chains (snow cables) in their vehicle and be prepared to use them.
Any road that may typically be open this time of year could close due to unsafe conditions. Conditions can change frequently throughout the day, and we encourage everyone to come prepared with waterproof shoes and warm clothing.
Visitors should plan for full tank of gas and tire chains prior to arriving at the entrance stations to avoid having to turn around and get back in line.
Knowing how to install the tire chains on your vehicle is critical, as you may be doing so in windy, snowy conditions. Vehicles should pull over to a safe area to install chains and not stop in the middle of the road. Chain-up areas can become congested with long waiting periods.
Snow plows will be clearing roads, so parking only in marked parking areas is important. The National Park Service does not tow vehicles, and tow companies traveling in from the San Joaquin Valley can be delayed due to winter conditions (and will be at the expense of the vehicle owner).
Click here for some additional tire chain information, a video on how to install them, and for tips on winter driving in the parks.
For road conditions that are updated continually during storms, call 559-565-3341, press 1, then press 1 again.
Traffic congestion during the holiday period
Lines at entrance stations can be long when tire restrictions are in place due to safety messaging that is provided to the occupants of each vehicle before they proceed into the park. To avoid long waiting periods, it is recommended to arrive prior to 9 a.m. or after 2 p.m. and have your method of payment ready when you arrive at the entrance station (to save time, purchase park pass in advance here).
Leave the winter driving to Sequoia Shuttle: It’s free!
Parking in all areas of the parks will be limited due to snow and the increased visitation. The Sequoia Shuttle (November 28-December 1 and December 21-January 1) is a great way to explore the most popular attractions in the Giant Forest during the holidays. Free shuttles will take you to and from the Giant Forest Museum, General Sherman Tree, Lodgepole and Wuksachi Lodge and Restaurant.
Driving your own vehicle from site to site increases traffic congestion and pollution. Shuttles are free and will operate from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a shuttle at each stop every 10 minutes or so. Check the parks newspaper (provided at the entrance station) or parks website for shuttle information and times.
On weekends and holidays, Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is closed to personal vehicles. The road also closes when snow-covered. The road is accessible to hikers (and when snow accumulates, to showshoers and skiers).
Where to sleep in the parks
Campsites are limited in the winter season. The only place to check whether first-come-first-served sites are available is at the Campground Information Board located near the entrance of each campground. There you will find a list of any available sites along with registration procedures.
Campers at Azalea (Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon) should plan for snow and winter storm conditions.
Sequoia National Park
Open Campground: Potwisha (30 sites first-come-first-served, 10 sites on reservation)
Lodgepole Campground has closed one week early for the winter season due to anticipated heavy snow and no snow plow access.
Kings Canyon National Park
Open Campground: Azalea (48 sites first-come-first-served); plan for winter storm and snowy conditions.
For lodging availability in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, visit here.
Care for bears
Bears have been very active in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, day and night, especially around Potwisha Campground. Keep a sharp eye out when traveling the Generals Highway through this area as it is always a thrill to see a bear in its natural habitat.
But REMEMBER: It is extremely important that visitors not approach bears and to store their food properly. Bears can grab unattended food or easily break into cars that have food in them. Although bears usually don’t pose a threat to humans, they will become bold and aggressive in attempts to get more human food once they are introduced to it. All food or anything with a scent must be stored and out of sight. Dispose of all trash in the bear-resistant cans and dumpsters that are provided throughout the parks.
Let the holidays begin!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will soon be a winter wonderland of delight, especially when when in a snow-covered giant sequoia grove. Use these travel tips to have a safe, memorable journey.