10 Best Things to Do in Sequoia National Park [For Families]

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Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia National Park is one of the best places to immerse your family in nature.

As a mom who has had the pleasure of exploring this breathtaking park with my family, I can tell you firsthand that it’s a haven for those looking for incredible landscapes and memorable adventures.

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are adjacent to each other, and a single road, the Generals Highway, connects the two parks. The entrance to Sequoia is just a few miles south of the entrance to Kings Canyon.

The close proximity allows visitors to easily explore both parks in one trip, experiencing the unique features each has to offer. The combined management of these parks provides a seamless transition for visitors moving between Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Sequoia National Park is an incredible destination, full of giant trees, beautiful waterfalls, and stunning views. As a family, we explored the best the park has to offer, from the amazing Giant Forest Grove to the Moro Rock Trail and the magical Crystal Cave.

family standing next to the Sequoia National Park sign in CaliforniaPin
my family at Sequoia National Park

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the must-visit sites and best things to do in Sequoia National Park, ensuring your family trip is nothing short of magical.

Here are the top things we enjoyed doing in the park:

1. Giant Forest Grove

We loved exploring the heart of Sequoia National Park in the Giant Forest Grove. This magical place is home to some of the world’s largest and oldest trees, including the renowned General Sherman Tree.

family in front of the General Sherman Tree, Giant Forest, Sequoia National ParkPin
my family in front of General Sherman

Why Explore the Giant Forest Grove?

  • General Sherman Tree: We stood in awe beneath the famous General Sherman Tree, the largest tree on Earth. Experiencing the sheer size of this giant left us with a sense of wonder and a deeper appreciation for nature.
  • Congress Trail: Taking the family on the Congress Trail was a highlight. This gentle loop through the grove provided an up-close encounter with giant sequoias, and we captured some fantastic family photos.
  • Tharp’s Log: Exploring Tharp’s Log, a fallen giant sequoia that served as a pioneer’s seasonal home, gave us a fascinating glimpse into the history of human interaction with these ancient trees.
  • Autumn Brilliance: If possible, visiting in the fall added extra magic to the Giant Forest Grove. The transformation into a canvas of red, orange, and gold made our experience even more enchanting.

The Giant Forest Grove is accessible year-round, each season giving a unique perspective. Late spring and early summer months provide pleasant hiking weather, while autumn brings vibrant colors. Winter months give you a peaceful and less crowded experience with snow-covered trees.

General Sherman Tree, Giant Forest, Sequoia National ParkPin
sign in front of the General Sherman tree

Tips for Families

  • Take a picnic: Pack a picnic and enjoy a family lunch in designated areas amongst the ancient giants.
  • Pay attention to the signs: Explore the educational signage to learn about the giant sequoia trees’ life cycle and the importance of preserving the ecosystem in the park and the surrounding Sequoia National Forest.
  • Shoot for early morning: Consider visiting early in the morning for a quieter and magical experience with soft sunlight filtering through the trees.

2. Moro Rock Trail

This trail isn’t for everyone, and truth be told, I was happier seeing Moro Rock from afar, rather than hiking it with kids in tow. Moro Rock Trail is an ascent to a granite masterpiece that rewards hikers with panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada. This short hike is quite a climb, but it’s one of the best ways to see Sequoia National Park’s stunning landscape.

man standing looking toward Moro Rock in Sequoia National ParkPin
As a mom who isn’t a fan of taking the kids on hikes with cliffs on either side, we chose to admire Moro Rock from afar, as seen above.

Why Hike the Moro Rock Trail?

  • Spectacular Summit Views: The Moro Rock Trail will take you up to over 6,700 feet, where you will find panoramic views of the High Sierra peaks, the Great Western Divide, and the Kaweah River valley. The effort to reach the top of Moro Rock will grant you an amazing 360-degree spectacle.
  • Granite Staircase Adventure: Climbing the granite staircase carved into Moro Rock could be a thrilling experience for your family if this type of hike is your jam. The trail is well-maintained, but you should still be cautious, especially on the narrow sections.
  • Sunset Splendor: Planning your hike to coincide with sunset is a magical choice. The changing colors of the sky, combined with the silhouette of the surrounding peaks, created a breathtaking scene that will be forever etched in your family’s memory.
  • Springtime Wildflowers: Visiting in the spring treated us to a burst of wildflowers throughout the park, and this trail was no exception. The vibrant colors against the granite backdrop added a natural touch of beauty to our hike (even though we only went down a portion of the trail).

Late spring to early fall is the ideal time to tackle the Moro Rock Trail, as snow and ice can impact trail conditions in colder months. Early morning and late afternoon are perfect times to go, allowing you to avoid crowds and enjoying softer lighting.

view along the Moro Rock trail, Sequoia National ParkPin
Here’s a view along the trail – as you can see, it is paved with handrails, but there is also a very steep drop-off, so proceed on this trail only if your family is very comfortable with these type of hikes.

Tips for Families

  • You DON’T have to hike the trail to see Moro Rock: If you’re a mama bear who prefers keeping her cubs away from heights (my hand is raised!), skip the trail, and catch Moro Rock from a nearby view point instead!
  • Sturdy Footwear: Wearing sturdy hiking shoes with good traction was crucial, especially for the climb up the granite steps.
  • Proceed with Caution: This trail is well maintained and has a railing for support, but keep an eye on the little ones to ensure they don’t try to go under the railing.
  • Educational Opportunities: Taking breaks along the trail to appreciate the park’s unique flora and fauna is a highlight. Occasionally, rangers lead interpretive talks, sharing insights into Moro Rock’s geological and natural history, so check for those at the Visitors Centers.

3. Crystal Cave Exploration

A visit to this subterranean wonderland is a unique experience that will leave your family in awe. Here’s why Crystal Cave should be a highlight on your Sequoia itinerary.

**Note: Due to damage sustained during the KNP Complex Fire in 2021, the NPS has closed Crystal Cave for the 2024 season. As always, be sure to check the NPS website before your trip for the latest updates.

Crystal Cave, Sequoia National ParkPin
Crystal Cave

Why Explore Crystal Cave?

  • Stalactite Splendor: Crystal Cave is a marble cavern filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. The guided tours teach you all about the beauty of these formations, providing a fascinating geology lesson for the whole family.
  • Guided Tours: Our exploration was led by a knowledgeable park ranger through guided tours. These tours ensure a safe and informative experience while revealing the stories of the cave’s discovery and development.
  • Cave Features: We marveled at unique cave features, including the Totem Pole, a 21-foot tall stalagmite, and the Post Office, a collection of delicate helictites. Each chamber unveiled a new wonder, making the cave a really exciting journey.

The warmer months, from late spring to early fall, are the best times to explore Crystal Cave. The constant cool temperature inside provides a refreshing escape from the summer heat. Tours are offered at various times, allowing flexibility for your family’s schedule.

Tips for Families

  • Dress in Layers: The cave can be cooler than outside, so dressing in layers is a good idea.
  • Advance Reservations: Secure tour tickets in advance, especially during peak times. You can purchase them online or at the Foothills or Lodgepole Visitor Centers.
  • Guided Discovery Talks: Attend ranger-led discovery talks outside the cave entrance for additional insights into the cave’s geology and ecology.

This NPS video will give you a great overview of the cave:

4. Crescent Meadow

We had a wonderful experience at Crescent Meadow, a pristine oasis nestled within the giant forest. This destination off Crescent Meadow Road gives you a perfect blend of natural beauty, leisurely strolls, and opportunities for wildlife encounters.

panoramic view of Cresent Meadow Sequoia National ParkPin
panoramic view of Crescent Meadow

Why Explore Crescent Meadow?

  • Serene Loop Trail: Exploring the Crescent Meadow Loop was a peaceful experience. The level trail made it suitable for for the kids, allowing us to take a leisurely stroll amid towering trees and vibrant wildflowers.
  • Wildlife Watching: We kept our eyes peeled for wildlife, and Crescent Meadow did not disappoint. We spotted mule deer and black bears, especially during the early mornings and late afternoons. Binoculars and cameras are must-haves to capture these moments.
  • High Sierra Trailhead: Crescent Meadow served as the starting point for the High Sierra Trail. While we didn’t embark on the full trail, the trailhead area provided stunning views of the surrounding landscape, adding to the overall experience.
  • Picnic Paradise: We packed a picnic and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in one of the designated picnic areas. The serene atmosphere of Crescent Meadow created an idyllic setting for a family meal surrounded by nature

Crescent Meadow is accessible year-round, but spring and early summer bring a burst of wildflowers, making the meadow even more beautiful. Autumn is beautiful too, with the changing colors of the foliage. For optimal wildlife viewing, I recommend the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Tips for Families

  • Wildlife Safety: Observe wildlife from a safe distance and avoid feeding them, following park guidelines for wildlife encounters.
  • Binoculars and Cameras: Bring binoculars and cameras for enhanced wildlife-watching and to capture the beauty of the meadow.
  • Sun Protection: As there may be limited shade, especially in summer, bring sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the sun.
  • Comfortable Attire: Wear comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for a relaxed walk. The loop is approximately 1.6 miles, making it perfect for families with children.

5. Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

You don’t want to miss taking a scenic drive through Sequoia National Park on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. This picturesque drive (just over 36 mile in length) is the perfect way to check out the park’s diverse landscapes, from towering cliffs to cascading waterfalls, giving families an incredible adventure without stepping out of the car.

road in kings canyon national parkPin

Why Drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway?

  • Rugged Cliffs and Canyon Views: Winding along the byway, we were amazed by the rugged cliffs and deep canyons of Kings Canyon. There are numerous pullouts available, so pull over to check out the vastness of the canyon and capture some incredible photographs.
  • Grizzly Falls: A short drive off the byway leads you to Grizzly Falls, a stunning waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. Take a break to stretch your legs and enjoy the short walk to the falls.
  • Roaring River Falls: Another gem along the byway is Roaring River Falls. Easily accessible with a short walk, the powerful cascade is a dramatic contrast to the serene surroundings and is a great spot for a family photo.
  • Panoramic Overlooks: Several panoramic overlooks allowed us to stop and soak in the grandeur of the High Sierra peaks and the Kings River below.

Late spring to early fall is the ideal time for the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Wildflowers bloom, waterfalls flow, and driving during the morning or late afternoon provides optimal lighting and fewer people.

Tips for Families

  • Car Essentials: Ensure your vehicle is in good condition and bring essentials like water, snacks, and a map (a paper one…cell service isn’t great in many places along this route).
  • Camera Ready: Have your camera or smartphone ready to capture the stunning scenery and fantastic photo opportunities.
  • Binoculars: Bring binoculars for enhanced views of distant landscapes and potential wildlife sightings.
  • Check Road Conditions: Before starting the drive, check with park rangers or the visitor center for the latest road conditions and any closures.

6. Lodgepole Visitor Center

We enjoyed our visit to the Lodgepole Visitor Center—an educational hub nestled within the heart of the park. This center is a perfect pit stop where you can also find information to help you learn about the park’s ecology, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

Why Explore the Lodgepole Visitor Center?

  •  Informative Exhibits: The exhibits provided a deep dive into the world of Sequoia National Park. Covering everything from geological history to intricate ecosystems, the interactive displays make learning enjoyable for all ages.
  • Junior Ranger Program: Young explorers will have a blast participating in the Junior Ranger program available at the visitor center. Completing activities, learning about the park, and earning a Junior Ranger badge is a cherished part of any national park adventure.
  • Ranger-Led Programs: Taking advantage of ranger-led programs to add an educational layer to your visit. From guided nature walks to talks on wildlife and conservation, these programs provide deeper insights into the park’s natural wonders.
  • Visitor Resources: The visitor center has all the essential resources for your Sequoia adventure, including trail maps, wildlife guides, and safety tips. The knowledgeable staff can provide personalized recommendations based on your interests and the current season.
Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia National ParkPin
Lodgepole Visitor Center (photo via NPS)

The Lodgepole Visitor Center is usually open year-round, with varying hours depending on the season. Visiting at the beginning of your trip allows you to gather valuable information and set the stage for your family’s exploration of the park.

Tips for Families

  • Interactive Learning: Encourage your children to engage with interactive exhibits to make the learning experience more enjoyable.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask park rangers questions. They are a wealth of information, providing insights into hidden gems, seasonal highlights, and family-friendly activities.
  • Plan Your Day: Using the visitor center as a starting point helped us plan our day. Rangers gave us guidance on suitable trails, weather conditions, and any special events happening in the park.
  • Check Program Schedules: Look for schedules of ranger-led programs to make sure you can attend ones that align with your family’s interests.
inside of Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia National ParkPin
Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia National Park (image via NPS)

7. Hire a Private Tour/Naturalist

We absolutely loved our tailor-made adventure with Sequoia Tours, a husband-and-wife team that brings decades of expertise and passion for the natural world. This private tour experience goes beyond the ordinary, giving your family an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the park’s wonders with guides who have dedicated their lives to its exploration and preservation.

Why Hire a Private Tour

  • Expert Guides: Our guides, with decades of experience in the National Park Service and a deep connection to Sequoia National Park, brought infectious passion and knowledge. Their insights into the park’s ecology, biology, and history made the tour enlightening and enjoyable.
  • Personalized Exploration: The private tour can be personalized to your family’s interests. The guides tailor the itinerary to ensure you explore the parts of the park that resonate most with you.
  • In-Depth Interpretation: We received in-depth insights into the park’s ecosystems, the life cycle of giant sequoias, and unique features that make Sequoia National Park a natural wonder.
  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Discoveries: Our guides’ intimate knowledge led us to hidden gems and lesser-known spots within the park. Discovering secluded meadows, pristine viewpoints, and secret trails added a sense of exclusivity to our family’s adventure.

Private tours are available year-round, providing flexibility for families planning their visit. Booking in advance ensures preferred dates and allows guides to tailor the tour based on the current season’s highlights.

boy holding a sequoia seed and pine cone in his hand at Sequoia National ParkPin
Our guide found unique ways to engage the kids at every turn. Here, he shared a sequoia cone and seed with the kids so they could get more of a hands on sense of these amazing trees. The sequoia seeds are smaller than a pencil eraser.

Tips for Families

  • Communicate Your Interests: Share your family’s interests in advance for a personalized experience tailored to your preferences.
  • Come Prepared: Wear comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for chosen activities. Bring water, snacks, and any specific items recommended by your guides.
  • Ask Questions: Take advantage of the personalized nature of the tour by asking questions and engaging with your guides.
  • Capture the Moments: Bring cameras or smartphones to capture memorable moments. Guides can give tips on the best vantage points and times for photography.
YouTube video

8. Tokopah Falls Hike

We had a fantastic adventure at Tokopah Falls, a captivating waterfall nestled within the heart of Sequoia National Park. The Tokopah Falls Hike is about 3.4 miles long round trip and gives you a scenic journey through towering trees and alongside a babbling river, ending with the incredible sight of a cascading waterfall.

Why Hike to Tokopah Falls?

  • Spectacular Waterfall Views: The hike rewarded us with stunning views of Tokopah Falls, a majestic waterfall tumbling down granite cliffs. The sight and sound of the rushing water is a delight for the whole family.
  • Family-Friendly Trail: The trail to Tokopah Falls is family-friendly, with a well-maintained path alongside the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. The relatively flat terrain makes it accessible for hikers of all ages, including children.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Keep your eyes peeled along the trail for songbirds and mule deer. The surrounding forest and meadows provide opportunities for the family to observe and appreciate the park’s diverse ecosystems.
  • Picnic Opportunities: Pack a picnic and enjoy the designated picnic areas near Tokopah Falls. Having a family meal with the backdrop of the waterfall is an unforgettable experience.

The Tokopah Falls Trail is typically accessible from late spring to early fall. Late spring and early summer are ideal times to witness the falls at their peak flow, with snowmelt making the falls even more magnificent.

Tokopah Falls Sequoia National ParkPin
Tokopah Falls

Tips for Families

  • Water and Snacks: Bring ample water and snacks to keep everyone hydrated and energized during the hike.
  • Camera or Smartphone: Capture the scenic beauty along the trail and the breathtaking views of Tokopah Falls. The trail offers some of the best places for photo opps.
  • Check Trail Conditions: Before heading out, check with park rangers for the latest trail conditions and any advisories, especially during early or late season hikes.
Tokopah Falls Sequoia National ParkPin
Tokopah Falls

9. Giant Forest Museum

Our visit to the Giant Forest Museum in Sequoia National Park was a great experience for our family. Located in the heart of the Giant Forest Grove, this museum serves as a gateway to understanding the life cycle of the giant sequoias and the park’s ecosystem.

seqouia standing outside the Giant Forest Museum, Sequoia National ParkPin
Giant Forest Museum, stands in the shadow of giant sequoias (Martie79, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Why Visit the Giant Forest Museum?

  •  Educational Fun: The museum makes learning about nature enjoyable for the whole family. Interactive exhibits catere to visitors of all ages, making it the best way to understand the park’s flora and fauna.
  • Junior Ranger Program: Little ones will love participating in the Junior Ranger program.
  • Interactive Exhibits: Engaging with hands-on exhibits brought the natural wonders of Sequoia National Park to life, from seedling to towering tree.

The Giant Forest Museum is open year-round, making it a fantastic resource regardless of the season. Consider stopping by at the beginning of your trip to gain valuable insights that will enhance your exploration of Sequoia NP.

inside the GIant Forest Museum, Sequoia National ParkPin
The Giant Forest Museum has fun, engaging, hands-on exhibits that kids enjoy.

Tips for Families:

  • Engage with Exhibits: Encourage your family to engage with the hands-on exhibits for a more immersive learning experience.
  • Junior Ranger Program: Let your little ones participate in the Junior Ranger program for a fun and educational adventure.
  • Ask Rangers: Take advantage of the rangers on hand to answer questions and provide insights into the park’s interconnected web of life.
NPS park ranger at Sequoia National Park at a ranger led program in a sequoia grovePin
Be sure to take advantage of park ranger programs being offered during your trip! These are free, and an amazing, interesting opportunity for the whole family to learn about the park. (photo via Richard Frear, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

10. Tunnel Log

We marveled at the Tunnel Log, a unique landmark born in 1937 when a colossal giant sequoia fell across Crescent Meadow Road during a snowstorm. Instead of removing the tree, a tunnel was carved, creating a distinctive passage.

While initially designed for vehicles, Crescent Meadow Road is now primarily a pedestrian and bicycle path. Visitors can no longer drive through the tunnel, but it is still an iconic and easily accessible stop for exploring on foot or by bike.

panoramic photo of the thibodeau family at the tunnel log in Sequoia National ParkPin
panoramic photo of our family under the tunnel log, no longer used for cars

Why Visit the Tunnel Log?

  • Unique Experience: Witnessing a tunnel through a tree that is large enough to drive a car through is just such a unique experience!
  • Photo Opportunity: The tunnel is the perfect place to capture memorable pictures.
  • Easily Accessible: This is a convenient stop on the way to nearby attractions in the Giant Forest area.

The Tunnel Log can be accessed year-round, though late spring to early fall will have the best weather for being on foot.

NPS sign describing the history of the construction of the tunnel log in Sequoia National Park by the CCCPin
NPS sign describing the history of the construction of the tunnel log by the CCC in the late 1930’s

Tips for Families

  • Explore on Foot or Bike: While you can no longer drive through Tunnel Log, walking or biking through offers a unique experience for the whole family.
  • Combine with Nearby Attractions: Make the most of your visit by combining it with nearby attractions like the Giant Forest Museum, General Sherman Tree, and Moro Rock.
  • Respect the Environment: Remind your family to stay on designated paths and respect the park’s guidelines for a sustainable visit.

Top Places to Stay Near Sequoia National Park

When you visit Sequoia National Park, you’ll want to explore the nearby Kings Canyon National Park as well as the sites in the surrounding Sequoia National Forest like Trail of 100 Giants, Hume Lake, and Dome Rock.

Here are some of the best places to stay that will be central to all the attractions you want to see.

  • Wuksachi Lodge: Located in the heart of the park, this rustic mountain lodge is close to all the major attractions.
  • Grant Grove Cabins: These cozy cabins are in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, making it perfect for exploring both parks.
  • John Muir Lodge: This lodge offers comfortable rooms in the Grant Grove Village in Kings Canyon (we stayed here, and it was great for our family).
  • Cedar Grove Lodge: Located in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon NP, this hotel has fantastic canyon views.
Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National ParkPin
Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park, with its towering trees, cascading waterfalls, and diverse landscapes, is a nature-lover’s paradise and a haven for families looking for adventure.

Each site, activity, and moment within the park combines to create some unforgettable memories that will linger in your family’s hearts for years to come.

three kids sitting on an adirondack bench at Hume Lake in Kings Canyon National ParkPin
Both Kings Canyon NP and Sequoia NP are amazing spots for a family vacation. Here my kids take a little break by Hume Lake, Sequoia National Forest

Pin this Sequoia NP information for later! And if you found this article helpful, leave a comment on the pin. That helps others decide whether to use this information, too!

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About Heather Thibodeau

Heather Thibodeau is the founder and mom behind nationalparksmom.com.

She and her husband Dave (AKA Tib) are on a mission to travel to as many US national parks with their three kids in tow as they possibly can, doing their best to keep the little ones out in nature and off of screens in an increasingly digital world.

Heather has earned degrees in biology & chemistry from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies), and holds master's and doctorate degrees in physical therapy from Duke University (Go Blue Devils).

Heather is also the creative force behind The Heathered Nest where she shares her love of all things DIY and home decor.

Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, This Old House, Today.com, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and more.

6 thoughts on “10 Best Things to Do in Sequoia National Park [For Families]”

  1. Nice blog here Also your site loads up very fast What host are you using Can I get your affiliate link to your host I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol.

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    • Happy to share. My site is hosted with Big Scoots. Been with them for years, and very happy with their services.

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  2. What a treasure trove of ideas, and the age/comfort suggestions are really helpful since I have little ones, so the tough hikes are not in our near future for a few more years. Hopped here from a link-up but definitely will return since we’d like to visit a few National Parks in the next few years and your blog is an excellent resource!

    Elena

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