SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. April, 7, 2021 – Preparations are underway to reopen campgrounds in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for the 2021 summer season. In 2020, many campgrounds remained closed, or opened with limited capacity, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2021 summer season, campgrounds will require advance reservations through www.recreation.gov, which can be made up to one month in advance. This change is intended to ensure proper COVID-19 mitigations and allow campers to plan with more accurate information about campsite availability. To cover online processing costs, fees for campgrounds newly added to www.recreation.gov will increase to $22 per night, an average increase of $4 from previous years.
Current and Upcoming Campground Availability
- Azalea Campground is currently open in Kings Canyon National Park, with 19 sites available on a first-come, first served basis. Azalea is scheduled to open at full capacity on May 26, 2021, at which time it will switch to reservation-only.
- Potwisha Campground is currently open in Sequoia National Park at 50% capacity, and will transition to 100% capacity on March 31, 2021. All campsites in Potwisha Campground are reservation-only, a change from previous years.
- Buckeye Flat Campground, in Sequoia National Park, will open for the season on March 31, 2021.
- Sentinel Campground, in Kings Canyon National Park, is scheduled to open for the season on April 23, 2021.
- Lodgepole Campground, in Sequoia National Park, is scheduled to partially open for the season on April 21, 2021.
As spring continues, more campsites and campgrounds will reopen throughout the parks. Atwell Mill Campground in Mineral King and Dorst Creek Campground in Lodgepole will remain closed for the 2021 season due to hazard trees.
“We know that many people have been coming to these parks for years and years, and look forward to their camping trips all year long, while many others are eagerly awaiting an opportunity to visit and camp for the first time,” says Superintendent Clay Jordan. “Park employees are working diligently to make campgrounds safe for campers and provide the dates that people need to plan their trips.”
Scheduled campground opening dates are subject to change. As campground opening dates and other information become available, it will be posted on the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks website. Check regularly for updates at https://go.nps.gov/seki-campground-info. To make reservations, explore campsite availability, or modify an existing reservation, search for “Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks” on www.recreation.gov, or call the website using the numbers listed under their “Contact Us” section.
Current Conditions As of April 6 2021.
Current Road and Weather Conditions
Warm conditions in the foothills can be decptive! At higher elevations, such as Grant Grove, Lodgepole, and the Giant Forest, winter can linger even into May. As unlikely as it sounds, it’s not uncommon for those areas to get snowfall even in late May. If you travel to the sequoia groves, expect winter closures to still be in place on many park roads until later in spring.
CalTrans is scheduled to open Highway 180 to Cedar Grove at noon on April 23, depending on conditions. Even if no snow falls between now and then, much work remains to clear the highway of months of winter debris. Mineral King Road is scheduled to open at noon on May 26, depending on snow conditions and access. Other park roads, such as Moro Rock / Crescent Meadow Road and Panoramic Point Road, are also scheduled to open on May 26, depending on conditions.
With warm daytime temperatures, and nighttime temperatures that barely reach freezing, much of the parks’ recent snow is melting. However, watch out for slippery roads at the elevation of the sequoia groves (Giant Forest, Lodepole, Wuksachi, Grant Grove, and Big Stump areas). Due to freezing and thawing patterns, patches of ice may be present on roads. Be cautious while driving in early morning when temperatures are coolest, or when driving in heavily shaded areas. We recommend slower speeds and more distance between vehicles. Tire chains may still be required during or after storms.
The Generals Highway between Sequoia and Kings Canyon will now be open when conditions allow. Spring storms may cause temporary closures along this stretch of highway, but we plan to keep it plowed and open when possible.
In the foothills, roads are bare and dry.
Wolverton, Big Stump, and Columbine Picnic Areas
Spring has sprung and there is little to no snow at Wolverton, Big Stump, and Columbine Picnic and Snowplay areas. These areas are now best suited for enjoying a afternoon meal or roasting marshmallows with family and friends. Please use extreme caution in these areas as snowplay leads to serious injuries every year. Our picnic and snowplay areas have trash containers for both food waste and ash. Please dispose of garbage and properly store your food from wildlife such as ravens and bears.
Grant Grove Area Conditions
In the Grant Grove area, snow is melting quickly! Inquire at the visitor center about trails marked for winter use. Summer trails can still be covered and obscured by snow so extra navigation skills are needed to follow the summer trails. Panoramic Point Road to the lookout, the North Grove Loop, and the Grant Tree Loop are good options for easy navigation, but keep in mind snow may still be present. The Panormic Point Trail is partially covered with up to a foot of snow in some places, while bare in other places. Waterproof boots with traction devices are recommended. Trekking poles are also helpful where snow is a bit deeper. Snow conditions are no longer good for snowshoeing or skiing.
Giant Forest / Lodgepole Area Conditions
Warm weather is beginning to melt accumulated snow in the Giant Forest and Lodgepole areas. Daytime melting and evening freezing is causing slippery conditions in mornings and slushy walks midday. If you head out on a trail, use waterproof boots with shoe traction devices and trekking poles.
The main Sherman Tree Trailhead and Parking Area is open. The trail from the Upper Sherman Tree Parking Lot to the Sherman Tree is slippery from morning ice—use caution on this sloped trail.
Moro Rock / Crescent Meadow Road is accessible by skis, snowshoes, or waterproof boots with traction devices. A number of features can be found along this road, such as the Auto Log, Buttress Tree, and Tunnel Log. As of March 30, 2021 report, Moro Rock is snow free, but still slippery, especially in morning or when cool out. Please use caution when climbing the stairs and turn around if conditions become dangerous.
Additional Giant Forest area locations to visit include Beetle Rock, Big Trees Trail, and Hazelwood Nature Loop. In Lodgepole, Tokopah Falls Trail is 50-60% snow free and the waterfall is cascading.
Foothills Area Conditions
Currently, the mild weather in the foothills offers opportunities for dayhiking. Our rangers report blooms of pink manzanita and redbuds, purple lupine, and orange poppies! Many new wildflowers are beginning to emerge and trees are sprouting green leaves as well. This time of year, keep on the lookout for harmless, bright-red newts on trails or near the water’s edge. As you hike, consider that warm temperatures mean that rattlesnakes may begin to emerge, and ticks may be present.
Some trails have stream crossings that may become dangerous after heavy rain. If you hike on Foothills trails after a storm, be ready to turn back if you don’t feel comfortable crossing, or if rockfall, tree hazards, or other factors make the trail unsafe. For
Wildfire-Related Closure in Sequoia National Park
The Dillonwood area wilderness area closure in Sequoia remains in effect, due to impacts from the SQF Complex fires.