The Best Things to do in Sequoia National Park

The 15 Best Things to Do in Sequoia National Park

No road trip through California is complete without paying a visit to Sequoia National Park. Set right in the heart of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, this gem of a park boasts cascading waterfalls, sequoia-studded groves, and some of the best hiking trails in California!

Whether you’re into backcountry backpacking, landscape photography, or heart-pumping hikes, you’re going to love Sequoia National Park! As if there wasn’t enough outdoor adventure in Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park is right next door, which means you’ll have plenty of amazing options to choose from.

Sequoia National Park just happens to be home to the world’s largest tree, General Sherman. If this is your first visit to the park, you can check out this 275-foot beauty while marveling at the thousands of towering sequoias in the famous Giant Forest. Other must-do things to do in Sequoia National Park include hiking to the top of Moro Rock or going underground in Crystal Cave.

But if you’re looking for more offbeat (and heart-pumping) adventures, you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can take on a 40-mile trek to the rainbow-colored Precipice Lake or climb 172 steps up a sky-high granite rock to glimpse 360-views of the Sierra Nevada. With wildflower-filled meadows, pristine glacier lakes, and unforgettable hikes, one trip to Sequoia National Park just isn’t enough!

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Sequoia National Park for you. Stick to these fun and unique Sequoia National Park bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this naturally beautiful California park!

15 Best Things to Do in Sequoia National Park

1. Marvel at Towering Sequoias in the Giant Forest

Unique Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Giant Forest

No trip to Sequoia National Park is complete without marveling at the area’s towering sequoias! If you only have time for one activity, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to the Giant Forest.   

As the name implies, the Giant Forest is home to thousands of massive sequoias. Take a hike through the grove, and you’ll have the chance to spot some of the largest trees on Earth – including the largest living sequoia in the world, General Sherman. You’ll feel absolutely tiny looking up at all of the sky-high trees! 

For more incredible views, you can go hiking along the 1.3-mile Big Trees Trail or the 2-mile Congress Trail, among many others. In addition to plenty of hiking opportunities, you’ll also want to stop off at the historic Giant Forest Museum. Peruse the museum, and you’ll learn all about the area’s massive sequoias, as well as the human history of the region.

2. Snap a Selfie with the World’s Largest Tree

Fun Things to do in Sequoia National Park: World’s Largest Tree

A visit to the famous General Sherman Tree should be at the top of every Sequoia National Park bucket list. While General Sherman isn’t the world’s tallest tree, it is the largest by volume! 

It towers at 275 feet and has a diameter of over 36 feet. General Sherman is nestled in the Giant Forest. As one of the most popular Sequoia National Park attractions, don’t be surprised if it’s teeming with tourists, all attempting to snap a selfie with Sequoia’s most iconic tree. 

While that might sound off-putting, it’s well worth braving the crowds to sneak a peek at this giant sequoia – especially if this is your first visit to Sequoia. Plus, the earlier you get there, the fewer people you’ll have to contend with.

There are two ways to reach General Sherman. You can stroll down the half-mile Main Trail, which is dotted with informational exhibits offering factoids about the sequoias. You can also follow the easy 2-mile Congress Trail, which is a popular paved loop.

3. Climb Up 350 Steps to the Summit of Moro Rock

What to do in Sequoia National Park: Moro Rock

Hiking enthusiasts will love hiking to the top of Moro Rock! There are more than 350 stone steps to reach the summit of the granite dome, but it’s well worth the effort for the panoramic views of the Great Western Divide mountain range and Sequoia National Park. 

If you’re in relatively good shape, this is easily one of the coolest things to do in Sequoia National Park. You may even spot a few Peregrine falcons in the summer months when they nest at the top of Moro Rock.

This hike is steep and strenuous, and there are tons of sheer drop-offs all along the trail. So make sure to use the handrails, when available, and keep an eye on your little ones if you’re hiking with kids. 

If you’re visiting in the summer, free shuttles will whisk you from the Giant Forest Museum to the Moro Rock parking lot. It’s important to note that the road is closed to private vehicles on the weekends, so the only way to reach the Moro Rock parking lot is with the shuttle.

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4. Drive Through Tunnel Log

Cool Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Drive Through Tunnel Log

If you’re looking for one of the quirkiest Sequoia National Park activities, you’ll definitely want to take a drive through the famous Tunnel Log! This fun attraction is located along Crescent Meadow Road in Sequoia’s Giant Forest, so it’s ultra-convenient to visit if you plan on visiting General Sherman.

Tunnel Log is a 275-foot-tall sequoia tree that fell across Crescent Meadow Road back in 1937. The following summer, a giant tunnel was carved out of the tree so visitors could actually drive through the massive tree. 

While the tunnel is 17 feet wide, it is only 8 feet high, so make sure your car or van isn’t too tall to clear the space! Driving through Tunnel Log is sure to be a crowd-pleaser – especially if you’re traveling with little ones. Plus, you’ll definitely want to bring your camera to capture fun family photos.

5. Take an Epic Hike to the Top of Mount Whitney

Sequoia National Park Bucket List: Hike to the Top of Mount Whitney

Avid hikers won’t want to miss out on the chance to hike to the top of Mount Whitney. Nestled in Sequoia National Park, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States and stands at a height of 14,494 feet.

The 22-mile out-and-back Mount Whitney Trail is not for the faint of heart. The trail takes experienced hikers a full 12 hours to complete and has an elevation gain of 6,100 feet!

If you want to tackle Mount Whitney, you will have to enter a lottery to get an official permit. If you’re lucky enough to snag a coveted permit, reaching the summit is still going to be a challenge. 

Roughly 30,000 hikers attempt to reach the top of Mount Whitney each year, and only one-third succeed. But if you do manage to reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the High Sierra and incredible memories that will last a lifetime!

6. Go Underground with a Tour of Crystal Cave

Sequoia National Park Things to do: Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave deserves a spot on any Sequoia National Park bucket list. This incredible underground attraction is located a 30-minute drive from the Giant Forest Museum, so it’s a cinch to reach.

There is a parking lot on-site. Once you reach the parking lot, you’ll have to hike a steep half-mile trail to reach the subterranean marble cavern.

You can choose from a variety of family-friendly tours, which will lead you through the stalactite- and stalagmite-studded cave. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go off-trail and crawl through narrow passageways on your stomach with the Wild Cave Tour (ages 13 and up)!

This is one of the most popular Sequoia National Park activities, so you should purchase your tour tickets at least two days in advance or much earlier if you plan to visit during a weekend or holiday.

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7. Take a Scenic Drive Along Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

Cool Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Drive Along Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

If you need a break from all of the heart-pumping outdoor activities, take a drive on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. 

The 50-mile stretch of road on Highway 180 begins in the foothills just outside of Fresno, continues to the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park and into the Sequoia National Forest. The route ends at the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. 

Be warned that the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is full of twists and turns, so keep your eyes on the road. Better yet, have someone else drive so you can enjoy the views! There are so many cool things to see and do along the way, you’ll want to leave plenty of time to make pit stops as well as take tons of photos.

You’ll definitely want to take in the stunning views from the Junction View Overlook, search for the small waterfall inside Boyden Cavern, and marvel at the 75-foot Grizzly Falls. Even that’s just barely scratching the surface of things to see and do along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway!

8. Go Paddling, Fishing, and Swimming at Hume Lake

Must do things in Sequoia National Park: Paddling, Fishing, and Swimming at Hume Lake

Nestled between Grant Grove and Kings Canyon in Sequoia National Forest, Hume Lake Recreation Area is the perfect spot for a family-friendly vacation or a fun getaway with friends. 

There are so many fun things to see and do at this picture-perfect lake, you can easily spend days exploring this idyllic area. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake, but it is possible to rent rowboats, canoes, and kayaks, and paddle around Hume Lake.

The lake is actually stocked with trout, bass, and bluegill, so it’s no surprise that fishing is another popular activity. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, throw down a towel on one of the sandy beaches and work on your tan! And if you’re looking for more action, there are tons of hiking and biking trails surrounding Hume Lake. 

Chances are you’ll want to spend at least a day or two here, so you can always camp at Hume Lake Campground.

9. Hike to Beautiful Marble Falls

Cool Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Marble Falls

Taking a scenic hike to Marble Falls is one of the top things to do in Sequoia National Park for outdoor enthusiasts. The moderate Marble Falls Trail begins in the Potwisha Campground and extends for roughly 8 miles (round-trip) with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet.

It’s well worth the effort because you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the picturesque 70-foot cascade washing over the marble rocks and tumbling into a picture-perfect pool below. The best time to take this hike is during spring, when the water flow is at its peak. 

Plus, this is also when the colorful wildflowers bloom, making the entire hike even more magical! The wildflowers usually bloom from late March to late May. The summer months can be unbearably hot, and water flow will be exceedingly low, so it’s best to choose a different scenic Sequoia hike if you’re visiting during the summer.

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10. Photograph Wildflowers in Crescent Meadow

Sequoia National Park Bucket List: Crescent Meadow

Crescent Meadow is the perfect spot if you just want to get away from it all. The lush area is surrounded by giant sequoias, and if you time your visit right, you’ll be treated to countless wildflowers dotting the grassy meadow!

The best time to view the wildflowers is during the summer months. If you’re a photographer or just want to enjoy nature at its best, Crescent Meadow deserves a spot on your Sequoia National Park bucket list. 

You can follow the easy 1.5-mile loop, which will take you around the meadow and offers plenty of photo ops. If you’re lucky, you may even spot local wildlife like deer, marmots, and possibly even bears. Although, it’s always advised to keep your distance from the animals!

Another perk of this mellow trail is that it’s perfect for hikers of all ages, making it a great family-friendly activity. If you want to tack on even more hiking, there are a few different trails that start at the Crescent Meadow Parking Area, including Sugar Pine Trail and Bobcat Point Trail Loop.

11. Enjoy a Scenic Picnic at Beetle Rock

Best Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Picnic at Beetle Rock

If you’re looking for a scenic picnic spot, look no further than Beetle Rock. This easily accessible granite dome is located across Generals Highway from the Giant Forest Museum, so it makes for a great stop after you’ve finished exploring the Giant Forest. 

The dome is huge and flat, making it the perfect place to throw down a blanket and enjoy a scenic picnic. You’ll love taking in the incredible panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada foothills as you fuel up for yet another epic hike!

Plus, Beetle Rock Trail is an easy half-mile stroll from the Giant Forest parking lot. Even if you don’t have picnic supplies, it’s well worth taking the short detour to Beetle Rock to snap a few photos of the incredible vistas. 

The sunsets here are also incredible! Alternately, you can get gorgeous sunset views from nearby Sunset Rock, another granite dome offering spectacular Sequoia National Park and Deep Canyon views.

12. Marvel at Sequoia National Park’s Tallest Waterfall

Cool Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Tallest Waterfall

With a 1,200-foot drop, Tokopah Falls stands proud as the tallest waterfall in Sequoia National Park. But unlike your typical waterfall, Tokopah Falls is made up of a series of cascades that twist and turn down a craggy granite wall. If you’ve got a thing for pretty waterfalls, it’s well worth hiking to this beauty!

You can reach the falls via the fairly easy 4-mile round-trip trail with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The trail follows a tranquil creek and offers beautiful views of the surrounding trees and granite cliffs. Be sure to keep an eye out for the adorable marmots that populate the area!

It’s best to visit Tokopah Falls in the late spring and early summer months when the cascade is at its strongest. If you’re visiting in the fall, you may be disappointed by the lack of water.

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13. Do Some Serious Stargazing

What to do in Sequoia National Park: Stargazing

Sequoia National Park’s lack of light pollution and high elevation makes it a prime spot to gaze up at the star-speckled night sky. It’s actually one of the darkest places in the United States! 

If you’re visiting Sequoia National Park in July or August, you may even have the chance to experience the Perseid Meteor Showers. The celestial event takes place every year between July 17 and August 24 and peaks around mid-August. Time your visit right, and you’ll have the chance to see anywhere from 80 to 160 shooting stars per hour!

If you’re serious about your stars, you can also attend the annual Dark Sky Festival. The dates vary each year, but you can expect all sorts of educational events, talks given by astronomers and astronauts, and excellent stargazing opportunities. 

But no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Milky Way, planets, and constellations – especially on clear, moonless nights.

14. Take in the Views from Buck Rock Lookout

Best Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Buck Rock Lookout
Images courtesy of Buck Rock Lookout

A visit to the top of Buck Rock Lookout is easily one of the most unique things to do in Sequoia National Park. Buck Rock Lookout is a tiny structure set on top of a massive 8,502-foot granite rock. The lookout was built in 1923, and to this day is still used to look out for and report fire activity. 

Though Buck Rock Lookout is operated by staff, it is open to the public. But if you want to take in the 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley, you’ll have to work for it. 

Cool Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Buck Rock Lookout

This historic staircase clings to the side of the rock and has a whopping 172 steps. The 300-foot climb is both steep and strenuous! 

Buck Rock Lookout is basically a small shack perched on top of a giant dome. Due to its small size, only six people are allowed to visit at a time. 

You can visit Buck Rock Lookout from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily, typically from June to October. However, the lookout is closed to the public when there is fire activity during fire season.

15. Backpack to the Otherworldly Precipice Lake

Best Things to do in Sequoia National Park: Precipice Lake

Made famous by one of Ansel Adams’ iconic photographs, Precipice Lake is an otherworldly multi-colored glacial lake set deep in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park. Although this remote hidden gem isn’t easy to reach, you’ll be tempted to tackle the multi-day trek the second you see a photo of this beauty!

Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, the lake’s water turns a range of colors – from black to green to orange! If you want to glimpse this place with your own eyes, you can opt to take the 40-mile High Sierra Trail loop trail from the Crescent Meadows Trailhead. This hike easily offers one of the coolest hiking, backpacking, and camping opportunities in Sequoia.  

It’s a long way to go, but it’s well worth the time and effort. Not only will you have the chance to experience the beauty of Precipice Lake, but the hike itself boasts stunning views of the Kaweah River Valley and the Great Western Divide, and so much more!

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Sequoia National Park. What’s your favorite thing to do in Sequoia National Park?

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