Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

The Sierra Nevada mountain range in California is home to some of the world’s largest trees. Here, the amazing Sequoia trees are surrounded by rugged foothills, deep canyons, raging rivers, and the dramatic beauty of the mountains themselves. All of this landscape is worth protecting, so it is no surprise that two national parks were created to protect this area: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 

These two national parks are adjacent to each other and operated together, so I have combined them into one post.  

Both Sequoia and Kings Canyon contain giant Sequoia trees. Kings Canyon contains the 3rd largest tree in the world (by volume), the General Grant Tree. But Sequoia contains the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman Tree. And they both contain dramatic elevation changes. Kings Canyon National Park contains part of the Kings River Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the United States. While Sequoia National Park contains part of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the “lower 48.”

So whether you explore just Kings Canyon, Sequoia, or both national parks, you will find plenty of dog-friendly adventures in these national parks and their surrounding national forests.

Dog- Friendly Activities

Both Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks have relatively standard national park rules regarding pets. Pets are allowed in campgrounds and picnic areas, but not on trails. They must be kept on a leash less than 6 feet in length and cannot be left tied and unattended.

But the great thing about these two national parks, is that to get from one area of the park to the next, you will have to drive through Sequoia National Forest. And dogs ARE allowed on national forest trails. If you are looking for a good comparison of the rules and regulations in national parks versus national forest, check out this article from nps.gov

Kings Canyon National Park

We started our adventure at these two national parks by driving to the eastern half of Kings Canyon National Park. The road along this canyon was magical. There were stunning views around every corner, including some great waterfalls. In early June, the river was roaring and impressive. Much of this drive is through Sequoia National Forest, meaning that any trails you encounter are dog-friendly.

We did not stop to hike on our drive into the canyon. Instead heading into Kings Canyon National Park and stopping to view Roaring River Waterfall. We spoke with a ranger and were told that the dogs were welcome on a dirt road, named River Road, as an option for walking them within the national park boundaries. This road offered a nice walk, but after the scenery we had enjoyed on our drive into the park, the road was nothing spectacular.

Hiking on River Road

On our way out of this portion of Kings Canyon National Park, we stopped at Grizzly Falls in Sequoia National Forest. There were no significant trails at this waterfall, but at least the dogs could walk right up to the falls and enjoy the view with us. If you are visiting in the spring, don’t skip this easy access waterfall.

Grizzly Falls

In the western portion of Kings Canyon National Park, we found our campground and were able to walk the dogs around the campground roads. The campground was nice and forested, so even though we were walking on roads, we enjoyed the experience. While camping at Kings Canyon National Park, we wanted to make sure and visit the General Grant Tree. Our campground was within walking distance to Grants Grove, home to the General Grant tree. Unfortunately, since dogs are not allowed on the trails, they were unable to join us for a visit to Grant Tree.

Sequoia National Park

At Sequoia National Park, our options with the pups were extremely limited. A ranger at this park informed us that the dogs could be left in a vehicle if temperatures for the day were under 70 degrees. This allowed us to take a short hike without the pups to see the largest tree in the world. The Sherman Tree is 35 feet in diameter and 103 feet in circumference.  It was a unique experience to stand next to a living growing thing so large. And the walk to the Sherman Tree through an impressive sequoia grove was an amazing experience all by itself.

Visiting the General Sherman Tree was the end of our activities in Sequoia National Park. There are several viewpoints that a normal passenger car could drive to, but our RV was too long of vehicle to navigate many of the roads. So after visiting the Sherman Tree, we made our way out of Sequioa National Park. This brought us back into Sequoia National Forest, where we found a lovely hiking trail to explore with the dogs. Read more about the Jennie trail below in the Activities in the Surrounding Areas section.

Camping

There are 14 campgrounds within these two national parks. Three of them are open year round and most of the campgrounds are first-come, first-served. 

During our visit, we camped at Azalea Campground and really enjoyed this location. Azalea Campground is in the Grants Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, making it relatively centrally located between the eastern half of Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. This campground has no hook-ups or dump stations, but it does have nice RV friendly campsites available for $18/night.

Walking around Azalea Campground

And if the national park campsites aren’t what you are looking for, check out the many campgrounds in the surrounding national forest.

Activities in Surrounding Areas

There are a lot of dog-friendly trails waiting for you in Sequoia National Forest, just outside Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

Sasha at Hume Lake

We spent the night before visiting Kings Canyon at Hume Lake Campground in Sequoia National Forest. This campground was adjacent to a great 3 mile hiking trail around a scenic mountain lake. We will warn you however, that the road into this campground is functionally a one and a half car road. Passing other RVs on this road caused us a little bit of anxiety.

The Hume Lake trail was our favorite of the handful of trails we explored in Sequoia National Forest, but we also enjoyed the Jennie Trail just outside of Sequoia National Park. The trail head for Jennie Trail is the Stoney Creek Trailhead. This trailhead was a little difficult to find as it is located at the back of the associated campground, not near the day use area. And the campground does not have signage to point you in the right direction. Luckily the campground host was very helpful and got us to the trailhead.

The Jennie Trail is a mountain trail that heads up to meet the Jennie Lake Trail. We didn’t make it quite that far, as we turned around after about 1.5 miles of uphill mountain hiking. But whether you plan to make this a day trip, an overnight backpacking trip, or just a couple hour hike after visiting Sequoia National Park, it was wonderful to have the option of a dog-friendly trail right outside the national park.

Hiking Jennie Trail

Final Thoughts

Even though neither Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park are by themselves among the most dog-friendly national parks, these two parks were some of our favorite of the entire road-trip. The ability to drive into the national parks, stand among the towering giant trees, and then stop and hike in the national forest on our way back to our campsite, made for a wonderful dog-friendly visit to an amazing national park system. After visiting Channel Islands and Pinnacles National Parks, we were so happy to find a second national park in California worth bringing the dogs too. (The first was Joshua Tree National Park). So if you haven’t been to either Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Park before, what are you waiting for?

And as always, please feel free to comment below and let us know about your own experiences visiting these national parks with or without your pup. 

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