NPS - National Park Service

11/25/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/25/2019 17:11

What to Know Before Visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Thanksgiving Weekend 2019

News Release Date:
November 25, 2019

Contact:Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, 559-565-3131

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. November 25, 2019 - A winter storm projected for this week means trip planning prior to visiting will be critical for a safe and enjoyable visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon. The road between the parks is expected to close Tuesday, November 26 at 4 p.m. in preparation for the storm which could bring up to four feet of snow in the Giant Forest and Grant Grove areas. Tire chain restrictions will be in place, with longer waiting periods expected at entrance stations, and possible road closures due to snow accumulation. Visitors are encouraged to call 559-565-3341 (dial 1, then 1) for current road and weather conditions prior to driving up to the parks.

Winter Storm Conditions
Weather forecasts for this holiday call for heavy snow and temperatures as low as 15 degrees at around 6,700 feet in elevation. Visitors entering the Sequoia entrance on Hwy 198 might experience rainy 43-degree weather, but just up the road be required to install tire chains for snow and winter storm conditions. Roads that are typically open this time of year may be closed due to unsafe conditions. Conditions can change frequently throughout the day, and we encourage everyone to come prepared with warm, waterproof shoes and clothing.

Visitors should plan for full tank of gas and tire chains prior to arriving at the entrance stations to avoid having to turn around and get back in line. Knowing how to install the tire chains on your vehicle is critical, as you may be doing so in windy snowy conditions. Vehicles should pull over to a safe area to install chains, and not stop in the middle of the road. Chain-up areas typically become very congested with long waiting periods.

Snow plows will be clearing roads, and parking only in marked parking areas will be very important. The National Park Service does not tow vehicles, and tow companies traveling in from the valley can be delayed due to winter conditions, and will be at the expense of the vehicle owner.

For tire chain information including a helpful video on how to install them, and tips on winter driving in the parks, visit www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/winter_driving.htm.

Traffic Congestion and Shuttles
Lines at entrance stations can be long when tire restrictions are in place due to safety messaging. To avoid long waiting periods it is recommended to arrive prior to 9 a.m. or after 2 p.m. and have your method of payment ready when you arrive at the gate. Having snacks, water, tire chains, and a full tank of gas is also recommended. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their park pass online prior to visiting to save time at the entrance gate. Visit www.recreation.gov/pass.

Parking in all areas of the parks will be very limited. The Sequoia Shuttle is a great way to explore our most popular areas in the Giant Forest during the holidays. Free shuttles will take you to and from the Giant Forest Museum, General Sherman Tree, Lodgepole and Wuksachi Lodge and Restaurant. Driving your own vehicle from site to site increases traffic congestion and pollution. Shuttles are free and will operate from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please check the park newspaper or website for shuttle information and times.

On weekends and holidays, and during winter storms, Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is closed to personal vehicles. Access that area by shuttle or on foot.

Campgrounds and Lodging
Please be advised that campsites are extremely limited in the winter season, only about 7% of park camp sites are currently open. The only place to check whether first-come-first-served sites are still available is the Campground Information Boards located near the entrance of each campground. There you will find a list of any available sites along with registration procedures.

Campers at Azalea should plan for snow and winter storm conditions. All food, scented items and coolers need to be properly stored in bear boxes. Bears are particularly active in the foothills and around Potwisha Campground.

Sequoia National Park
Open Campground:
Potwisha (30 sites first-come-first-served, 10 sites reservation)

Lodgepole Campground has closed one week early for the winter season due to heavy snow and no snow plow access.

Kings Canyon National Park
Open Campground:
Azalea (48 sites first-come-first-served)

For lodging availability in the parks visit www.visitsequoia.com.

Bears
Bears have been very active in the foothills of Sequoia National Park, day and night. It is very important that visitors not approach bears of any size and store food properly. Bears can grab unattended food or easily break into cars that have food in them. They become bold and sometimes aggressive in attempts to get more. All food or anything with a scent must be stored and out of sight, and trash must be disposed of in bear-resistant cans and dumpsters.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks wish you a fun and safe holiday weekend! For more trip planning information please visit our website, www.nps.gov/seki.