Together, towering granite domes and humbling giant sequoias form unforgettable sights that distinguish this park as one of the most special. Unlike Yosemite, Sequoia National Park's crowds can usually be managed well enough to never impede your trip.
Crowd Factor: 8/10
Daring to venture away from the park's most popular sites will help make your trip that much better than everyone else's.
Things to Do
Most Popular: Moro Rock
The views from the top will astound you and all 1.5 million of your closest friends. If you can manage 7am or before, do it. The whole experience won’t take long, but sunrise at Moro Rock is absolutely worth the effort.
Most Popular: General Sherman
The World's Largest Tree By Volume™ is the most popular attraction in Sequoia National Park. By arriving before 830am or after 5pm, you’ve got a good chance of exploring the area without having to wonder what paves the path more: concrete or humans.
Mather's Peak Alternatives
Sequoia Trees: John Muir Grove
The John Muir Grove provides the greatest opportunity for solitude among giant sequoias in any national park.
Granite Dome Views: Little Baldy
Little Baldy provides all the glory of Moro Rock with almost none of the hassle. Just be prepared for a workout.
Campgrounds: Dorst or Lodgepole?
Lodgepole is perfect for anyone who want to be close to a visitor center, store, and more or less in the heart of the park. While Dorst is nestled in a quieter part of the park and perfect for visitors looking to avoid the worst of the crowds.
5 Hikes That Mather
#1 John Muir Grove
An easy hike out to a small but secluded grove of giant sequoias. We love this hike because of its tranquility compared to General Sherman and the Giant Forest.
Distance: 4.0 Miles (6.0 if Dorst Campground is not yet open for the season).
Peak Alternative: Yes. Very few visitors to Sequoia NP venture this way.
Best Start Time: Any, but if started around noon you will avoid most of the worst visitors elsewhere.
Park Shuttle: Free & Mediocre
Sequoia’s free shuttle system is, like most park shuttles, decent but not great. The buses just don’t come frequently enough to prevent long lines from forming. At some point, especially if you’re going to Moro Rock or General Sherman during peak hours, you’ll end up waiting for more than one bus.
Crystal Cave Tours
If exploring caves interests your or your kids, you can (and must) book tours of varying lengths. Longer tours book up sooner, so it's a good idea to buy tickets when you reserve your campground.
What if it Rains?
Light rain scares away visitors to the point either Tokopah falls or any of the paved Giant Forest Trails are great. In heavy rain, I'm having a cocktail at the Wuksachi Lodge.
Mather's One-Day Itinerary
These times are based on summer daylight hours, typical temperatures, and crowd sizes.
6:00a - Wake Up
7:00a - Arrive Moro Rock
7-8am - Climb/Enjoy Moro Rock
8-9am - Full Breakfast
10am - Arrive John Muir Grove Trailhead
10a-130p - John Muir Grove (fill out your junior ranger book beneath the sequoias for bonus points)
130-230p - Lunch
230-430p - Little Baldy
5-6p - Dinner at Pinewood Picnic Area (busy during the day, empty in evening)
6-9p - General Sherman/Congress Trail
10p - Pass Out