Family with baby in front of General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park

The Best Guide to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park with Kids

If you’re planning a trip to Sequoia National Park or looking for a great Kings Canyon itinerary with kids – you’ve come to the right place. We absolutely loved these parks and would highly recommend our 2 day itinerary Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon! After doing some research, we spent one day in each park and while we could definitely have found more to do with additional days in the park, we were able to see the highlights and have an amazing experience. You’ll get to see some of the biggest trees in the world, a canyon deeper than the Grand Canyon, and stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Happy travels!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for a Sequoia and Kings Canyon itinerary!

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Why visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park?

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are the perfect places to visit with kids! Sequoia is home to the massive General Sherman Tree, the biggest tree in the world by volume. These incredible trees can live to over 3,000 years old and make you feel tiny as you walk among them, an experience you can’t find anywhere else! Sequoia was the first National Park created to protect a living organism, and the second national park overall. Then, General Grant National Park (now Kings Canyon National Park) was established just one week later to protect the Sequoia groves. Kings Canyon is also one of the deepest canyons in the United States at over 8,000 feet deep (even deeper than the Grand Canyon!) If I haven’t convinced you yet to visit this special place, keep reading!!

Check out our post for the 7 Best Easy Hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks!

How to Get There

If you’re flying into California, your best bet for cheap flights is likely going to be flying into Los Angeles (LAX). From there you would have about a 3.5 hour drive to Three Rivers (depending on traffic) which is near the entrance to Sequoia National Park. Another option is to fly into Oakland or Fresno, or make it into a road trip if you live nearby.

Where to Stay

Whether you choose to camp, stay at one of the family friendly accomodations inside one of the national parks or pick a hotel, airbnb, or VRBO in a nearby town you will have an amazing time. However, be mindful that the roads into both Kings Canyon and Sequoia are very windy roads. While they are absolutely stunning to drive, this can add a bit of drive time to your exploring days that you need to factor in. We did stay at a fantastic VRBO in Exeter, California that I would highly recommend if you’re willing to spend a little extra time driving.

Sequoia National Park Camping
  • Grant Grove Campgrounds – Azalea, Crystal Springs, Sunset Campground
  • Foothills Campgrounds – Potwisha, Buckeye Flat, South Fork
  • Lodgepole and Giant Forest Campgrounds – Lodgepole, Dorst Creek
Kings Canyon National Park Camping
  • Cedar Grove Campgrounds – Sentinel, Canyon View, Moraine, Sheep Creek
  • Mineral King Campgrounds – Cold Springs, Atwell Mill

NOTE: if you are planning to use a camper or RV, check the size limit for the different campgrounds and roads. As I said above, both parks have very windy roads and may not be safe for campers above a certain size.

ANOTHER NOTE: Azalea, Potwisha, and South Fork Campgrounds are open year round for your winter vacation. Most of the campgrounds require advance reservations so make sure to plan ahead. The Giant Forest Campgrounds felt pretty central to the activities that we wanted to do, if we were to stay in the park I would have wanted to stay in the Giant Forest area.

Check out the National Park Service website for more information about specific campgrounds and reservation information.

Sequoia National Park Hotels & Lodges
  • Wuksachi Lodge – This lodge is located in the Giant Forest Region and has the most amenities nearby including a full service restaurant and cocktail lounge. Further, this lodge also makes for easy access to the General Sherman tree, one of my favorite spots in the parks!
  • John Muir Lodge – Located in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park near the General Grant Tree.
Kings Canyon National Park Hotels & Lodges
  • Grant Grove Cabins – These cabins are located nearby the General Grant Tree, Panoramic Point, and the Big Stump.
  • Cedar Grove Lodge – Located nearby to Zumwalt Meadow, Muir Rock, and Roaring River Falls. This Lodge is located deep inside Kings Canyon, so a much less central but beautiful area nonetheless!

Reserve or find more information on the National Park Service website

Airbnb/VRBO Options Nearby Outside of the Sequoia National Park

Powell Ranch – This is where we chose to stay in Exeter, California, and let me tell you – this place is a KIDS PARADISE! They have a huge variety of animals including goats, chickens, ducks, a turtle pond, and cows. In addition to the animals, they have fruit trees all across the property where you can pick your own fruit, depending on what is in season. We had incredible, juicy fresh oranges that were so delicious. They also delivered fresh eggs to our house in the morning upon request. We visited in the heat of the summer, so the large pool with a waterslide was just what we needed after a long day of exploring followed by a hot tub in the evenings when it cooled down. If you’re looking for a unique stay near Sequoia and Kings Canyon with kids, Powell Ranch is it!

Getting Around Sequoia & Kings Canyon

Having a car is a must! These two parks are very spread out, and part of the experience is the beautiful drives, including the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. There is a shuttle during certain hours in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia, but there are no shuttles available in Kings Canyon at this time.

*At one point we stopped our car for a creature crossing the road, then as we got closer we realized this was a tarantula!! Don’t let this scare you, the spiders are only found in the foothills region so don’t expect to run into them at higher elevations. Bring your binoculars in case you see a creature from a distance!

To get into the park you will need a National Park Pass. If you frequent the National Parks, I would recommend buying an America the Beautiful Pass which will get you annual access to any of the National Parks (except those with extra entrance requirements) for $80. If not you can purchase a 7 day park pass for $35.

Things to do in the Sequoia National Park (by Region)

Looking for the best easy hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park? Here are our 7 favorite easy hikes! If you’re looking for the best hiking packs for kids, we love the Osprey Poco Plus Hiking Backpack and also the Ergobaby Front Carrier for smaller kids.

Foothills Region

This is the first region you would encounter if you are entering the park from the Three Rivers area.

Hospital Rock:

The hospital rock area is a popular swimming hole to take young kids on a hot day. Bring a swimsuit if you plan to stop here!

Giant Forest/Lodgepole Region

General Sherman Tree Trail:

Get here early if you want a spot in the parking lot, we arrived around 7:00 AM and had the place to ourselves, but the area got increasingly packed in the hour or so we were here. We walked the trail (less than 1.5 miles round trip). This is one of the best places for kids in Sequoia and Kings Canyon. It was a very kid friendly easy trail and partially paved. The size of these trees was truly indescribable and I especially loved seeing the tiny kids near the trees. Definitely recommend making this your first stop as it is likely going to be one of the busiest of the park. After all, it is the biggest tree in the world!

toddler in front of general sherman tree sequoia national park
Congress Trail:

2.9 miles, ~500 feet of elevation

The next stop after taking your obligatory photos with General Sherman. You can walk the loop and see the fire damage that recent wildfires have inflicted on the trees. Read about how fire plays an integral part in the life cycle of the Sequoias. This trail is mostly paved, but not necessarily stroller friendly due to the long set of stairs.

Sequoia National Park with kid Sequoia Trees
Beetle Rock:

Beetle Rock is one of the stops in Sequoia that you can see just a few hundred feet off the road. This was a quick stop right near the Congress Trail area and has panoramic views. If you’re staying nearby this could be an amazing spot to watch sunset.

man looking out at the view of sierra nevada mountains from beetle rock sequoia national park
Big Trees Trail:

0.7 mile loop

One of the best stops in Sequoia if you are looking for a paved stroller friendly trail.

baby in stroller on big trees trail sequoia

NOTE: All four of the stops above this are very close together. If you want to stay in the same general vicinity (no pun intended), these would all be great stops. If you’re crunched for time, my favorites were the Congress Tree Trail and the General Sherman Tree.

Moro Rock:

0.6 miles, 350 stairs

Let me preface this by saying this stop is NOT kid friendly. At least not for young kids. But this was another highlight of the park for me. We actually took our one year old halfway up and realized it was definitely not safe. However, it is short enough that if you have a couple adults in the group you can take turns hiking. I would also recommend going early for this one if you can, we went afternoon and it was very crowded.

view from the top of moro rock in sequoia national park
Crescent Meadows Loop:

1.3 mile flat loop

A kid friendly trail. If you’re low on time I would recommend skipping this stop because it did not compare to the others above.

Drive through Tunnel Log:

This was a fun quick stop if you have extra time, but there was a long line of cars waiting and several people driving through the tree multiple times to get the perfect video shot. Definitely less authentic than some of the other stops; however, how often do you get to drive through a tree trunk?? Keep in mind that this road may close on weekends to private cars.

NOTE: From the Giant Forest/Lodgepole Region you can proceed directly to Kings Canyon National Park if you want. However, this would make for an incredibly long day for anyone, let alone if you are traveling with children, so I would recommend splitting each park into a different day.

Hiking in Kings Canyon National Park with Kids (and other Kings Canyon things to do!)

Grant Grove Region

This is the closest part of the park near Sequoia National Park and the part that is actually connected. If you are only visiting Kings Canyon and not Sequoia, the following are all things to do in Kings Canyon National Park. The Grant Grove visitor center is the best place in Kings Canyon to get souvenirs. The rest of the park had very limited amenities.

General Grant Tree:

0.7 mile, loop

Our first stop of the day and it did not disappoint. It was also a stroller friendly trail. Nearby is the North Grove Loop (1.7 mile loop).

toddler walking through tree trunk in kings canyon national park
Big Stump Grove:

1.6 mile loop

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop but if you have extra time you can see the 16 foot diameter stump. The Army cut down this tree so it could be displayed to crowds in New York and London since many people didn’t believe trees could grow so big.

Panoramic Point:

This stop provides panoramic views, as you could probably guess from the name. We thought this was less picturesque compared to Beetle Rock, but still a good stop if you have time.

Hume Lake:

This stop isn’t actually in the park, and is owned by a kids camp. We stopped here because we were low on gas and this was the only option available. But it was a good spot to grab a snack and stretch our legs before we had to drive more.

NOTE: Gas facilities in the park are extremely limited, so plan accordingly and fill up when you have the chance!

Cedar Grove Region

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway:

You actually have to leave the park and re-enter after visiting the Grant Grove region. The road is very narrow and windy, but the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway was one of the top 5 most beautiful drives I’ve made, especially because I got to be passenger princess while my husband drove!

view of mountains from kings canyon scenic byway with pink flowers in foreground
Zumwalt Meadow:

This was our favorite stop of the Cedar Grove Region. Some part of this trail was closed for wildfire damage, but it is still an absolutely worthwhile hike. This hike is 1.5 miles roundtrip normally, but we extended to Muir Rock which makes the hike longer.

Muir Rock:

This is a great swimming hole for kids and a refreshing way to cool off if you are visiting in the heat of summer like we did. You can extend your Zumwalt Meadow hike to Muir Rock. Alternatively, get back in the car and drive to Road’s End to visit Muir Rock. The second option may be easier with small kids.

Roaring River Falls:

Our last stop before we headed back for the day. Just a quick walk, this was a crowded stop but definitely worth checking out if you have time.

roaring river falls view in kings canyon

Afterwards, we stopped for Ice Cream along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, which was a wonderful treat after a hot day!!

Where to Eat and Drink near Sequoia & Kings Canyon?

Three Rivers

  • Sequoia Coffee Co.
  • Sierra Subs and Salads
  • Three Rivers Brewing
  • Ol Buckaroo

Inside the Parks

  • The Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge (breakfast)
  • Wuksachi Pizza Deck
  • Grant Grove Restaurant
  • Pinehurst Lodge (not technically in the park)
How many days to spend in Sequoia & Kings Canyon?

We spent one day in each park, this was a good amount for us because we were staying a ways outside of the park. However, if you want to experience a more leisurely itinerary, you could easily spend three or four days exploring the highlights.

Sequoia National Park Itinerary

One Day in Sequoia National Park

If you’re wondering how many days in Sequoia National Park, I would suggest 1 or 2 days to see the highlights. You can definitely have a more leisurely National Parks trip if you spread this out, and there is always more to explore. But we were able to see the things we wanted to see in one day, and someday we’ll be able to make it back to explore some more!

1st Stop: General Sherman Tree

You’ll want to get up early to see the biggest tree in the world! This is a popular spot so you won’t regret getting there before the crowds. And you’ll be able to find a parking spot as well.

2nd Stop: Hike the Congress Trail

Since the Congress Trail connects to the trail for the General Sherman Tree, you’ll want to just do this all in one if you’re planning to do both hikes!

3rd Stop: Visitor Center/Giant Forest Museum

Check out the visitor center or Giant Forest Museum and get your National Parks Passport stamped. This is also a great time to pick up souvenirs and talk to a ranger about the rest of your day.

4th Stop: Beetle Rock

This is a super quick stop with a great view, it’s also right by the Giant Forest Museum so you shouldn’t have to move your car or find parking again.

5th Stop: Big Trees Trail

If you’ve had enough hiking for the day you can skip this stop, but this paved trail is great for strollers if your kids have had enough but you want to keep exploring.

6th Stop: Moro Rock

See above for my description of this trail – it may not be kid friendly depending on the age of your kids. And it can be really busy, but it was an amazing hike and one of the highlights of our time in Sequoia.

7th Stop: Drive through Tunnel Log

This is another stop that can be really busy and I probably would skip it if there is a huge line of cars. But how many people can say they’ve driven their car through a log?? So fun!

Sequoia National Park 2 Day Itinerary

If you have 2 days in Sequoia National Park, I would recommend doing all the above activities, but spacing them out a bit and spending more time exploring early in the morning and in the evenings when it’s less crowded. The busiest spots are Tunnel Log, Moro Rock, and General Sherman Tree. Plan your day around visiting those in the mornings/evenings. Additional things you can add to your itinerary if you have extra time are Hospital Rock (a fun swimming hole for kids) and Crescent Meadows Loop.

One Day in Kings Canyon National Park

This Kings Canyon 1 day itinerary is jam packed! We wanted to pack as many activities in as we could, because it’s a bit of a drive to get into the canyon, and we didn’t want to make the drive twice. If you’re visiting Kings Canyon with kids and you want to spend more time exploring in the canyon, I would highly recommend staying inside the park so you don’t have to make that drive multiple times. It’s doable, but wouldn’t be my favorite. If you’re wondering, can you do both Sequoia and Kings Canyon in one day? I would not recommend it. Because of the driving time it takes to get to both Sequoia and Kings Canyon, it would be a lot of time in the car for little kids. If you only have one day, choose which park interests you more and spend more time in one of them.

1st Stop: General Grant Tree

A nice leisurely walk to start your morning – also good to stretch your legs before a bit of driving! You’ll also get to see the 2nd largest tree in the world.

2nd Stop: Panoramic Point

Panoramic Point is a quick stop with stunning views, it’s a half mile loop. The views are similar to Beetle Rock, so if you don’t feel like getting out of the car you could skip this stop to save time.

3rd Stop: Hume Lake

If you are at all low on gas you need to fill up here. There are very limited gas options in the park. This is also a good place to get a snack if you need before you keep driving.

4th Stop: Drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

This is one of the prettiest drives in the United States! Enjoy the view as you drive down into one of the deepest canyons in the US.

5th Stop: Zumwalt Meadow

A lovely hike through massive rocks and beautiful meadows with upward views of the canyon.

6th Stop: Muir Rock

A perfect stop for swimming in Kings Canyon on a hot day – definitely recommend this!! You can hike here from Zumwalt Meadow or you can just get back in the car and drive (probably the better option with kids).

7th Stop: Roaring River Falls

A really quick stop off the road to see a powerful waterfall. Stop by the Cedar Grove Visitor Center afterwards for a passport stamp and a souvenir. There is also food options here if you need a bite to eat. Just a heads up this visitor center has pretty limited souvenir options.

8th Stop: Ice Cream

Stop for ice cream along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway on your way home. After all that hiking and time in the sun, you earned a few scoops!!

Overall Thoughts on Sequoia and Kings Canyon with Kids?

We absolutely loved these parks and hope you do too! Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon were great to visit with kids and have been one of the more family friendly parks we have visited. Almost all of the trails were short and fairly flat, some of which were accesible by stroller. If you’re looking for your next national park trip with your kids, make it Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Happy travels!

Must see: General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock
Would skip: Crescent Meadows
Next time: Someday we’ll be back to see the Sequoia trees in the winter because I’ve heard they are magical!! I would also love to take a backpacking trip since these parks have so much beautiful backcountry.

Looking to plan other trips with your kids? Check out some of our other guides!

We’ve got you set for hiking with your kids! Use our packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.

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