7 Spots for the Best Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

tent set up in the forest for the best camping in kings canyon national park

Kings Canyon offers the best of both worlds: scenic views of the Sierras and historic giant Sequoia groves. With over 50 hiking trails and scenic drives, you could spend days exploring this must-see park. One of the best ways to stay close to all the best things to do in Kings Canyon is camping.

This guide to the best camping in Kings Canyon National Park covers everything you need to know for planning your trip. From campsites nestled amongst sequoia groves to the camps near the best hiking trails in the park, you’ll have a wide selection.

In this post, you’ll find an overview of all 7 Kings Canyon National Park campgrounds, plus tips for reserving for your campsite and packing for your trip.

Overview of Kings Canyon Campgrounds

There are two distinct areas in Kings Canyon National Park: Grant Grove Village and Cedar Grove Village.

Grant Grove Village is open year-round, located at a lower elevation close to the park entrance and Sequoia National Park. This part of the park is home to sequoia groves, like the General Grant Tree. Here you’ll find three campgrounds:

  • Azalea Campground (Open Year Round)
  • Sunset Campground (Open Early Spring to Late Fall)
  • Crystal Springs Campground (Open Early Spring to Late Fall)

Cedar Grove Village is only open seasonally as Kings Canyon Scenic Byway closes in the winter. This area is home to popular hikes in Kings Canyon like the Mist Falls Trail, Zumwalt Meadow, and the Rae Lakes Loop. Here you’ll find four campgrounds:

  • Canyon View Campground (Open Late Spring to Early Fall)
  • Sentinel Campground (Open Late Spring to Early Fall)
  • Sheep Creek Campground (Open Late Spring to Early Fall)
  • Moraine Campground (Open Late Spring to Early Fall)
View of mountains from Zumwalt Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park
Zumwalt Meadow near Cedar Grove Village

How to Make Reservations for Campgrounds in Kings Canyon

As of 2021, all campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are accepting reservations via Recreation.Gov. While reservations are typically open 5 to 6 months in advance on Recreation.gov, Kings Canyon National Park has chosen to release reservations on a rolling one-month basis for 2021.

To reserve a campground in Kings Canyon National Park:

  1. Create a Recreation.gov account if you do not already have one. Recreation.Gov is the hub for booking all national park campsites.
  2. Confirm when reservations are released for the campground. At this point, campgrounds in Kings Canyon are released on a one-month rolling basis. So, for example, if you are looking to camp on August 1, you will need to reserve on July 1.
  3. Be online at 7 AM Pacific Time when the reservations open for your trip start date. Campgrounds go quickly, so I recommend adding one to your cart right away. 

To avoid crowds and find campgrounds more efficiently, consider:

  • Planning your trip on weekdays instead of weekends
  • Visit in the off-season (like September through November)
  • Book exactly when reservations open for the best availability

Reservation Tip
You can hold a campsite in your cart for 15 minutes before it is released. In this window, I go back and check if I can find a more desirable site. If I can, I’ll add that one to my cart. If not, I proceed to book the one I’ve already added to my cart.

Tips for Camping at Kings Canyon National Park

  • A camping reservation in Kings Canyon National Park does not cover your park entry fee. I highly recommend purchasing the America the Beautiful National Park Pass before your trip. This pass gets you into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, plus 400 more national park sites! Get your annual national park pass here for only $80.
  • Cell service is limited in most areas of the park. Be sure to download your campsite details or take a screenshot before arriving at the park.
  • There are no RV hookups or dump stations in Kings Canyon. The closest dump station is located in Sequoia National Park.
  • RV camping in Kings Canyon National Park is only allowed at designated campgrounds. You’ll need to check the restrictions and max lengths for each campground before making a reservation.
  • Fire restrictions are common in the summer. Typically from July through September, limitations are placed on when and where you can have fires. These restrictions include wood and charcoal fires in campgrounds. If you’re visiting in the summer, I recommend bringing a propane stove to cook your food.
  • Kings Canyon National Park is in black bear country. Protect wildlife by storing all food, trash, and scented items (including toothpaste, deodorant, and sunscreen) inside the food locker provided at each campsite. While size may vary slightly, these lockers are 47″ long x 33″ deep x 28″ high and fit a full-sized cooler. You can read more here about bear safety in Kings Canyon.
  • Pets are allowed in campgrounds but are not permitted on hiking trails and cannot be left unattended. Therefore, if you plan to bring a pet, you will need to plan for someone to stay with them at the campsite during the day if you plan to hike. Read more about pets in Kings Canyon National Park.

Read More: The Best Time to Visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

What to Pack for Kings Canyon Camping

  • Propane camp stove, particularly when visiting in the summer when fire restrictions will be in place. I have the Coleman Triton 2-burner stove for cooking meals and the Jetboil Flash for quick-boiling water (it’s great for backpacking too!)
  • Headlamps and lanterns – the campgrounds are dark at night when cleaning up after dinner or walking to the restroom. I highly recommend getting a Black Diamond headlamp or a lantern.
  • Tent – I highly recommend the tents from Big Agnes, particularly if you’re looking for a lightweight, packable alternative
  • A sleeping bag and pad are both essential for a comfortable night of sleep. I swear by my Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro sleeping pad for comfort, and my REI Magma 30 sleeping bag is great for year-round camping.
  • Lightweight fleece layers, even when traveling in the summer. Due to the elevation in parts of the park, temperatures drop overnight. The Patagonia Better Sweater is a great, versatile sweater for hiking and camping. You can check out the women’s Patagonia sweater here and the men’s Patagonia sweater here.
  • Breathable undergarments are a must for camping, particularly for multi-day trips. I highly recommend the underwear from Exofficio. Their boxer briefs for men and underwear for women are odor-resistant and quick-drying, miles better than cotton underwear.
  • 10 Hiking Essentials are a vital part of every outdoor trip, whether hiking or camping. The ten essentials include everything from a first aid kit to extra water. You can read more about the ten essentials in my ultimate hiking gear guide.
  • Bug spray is essential for visiting the Sierras in the summer. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are common, particularly in areas near water. I like to use more natural, deet-free alternatives. My favorite for camping is the Picaridin lotion insect repellent. It’s odor-free and doesn’t make my clothes smell like bug spray. The Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray is a great alternative too.

Read More:
58 Useful Camping Tips for Beginners
What to Pack for Hiking: 44 Best Essentials for a Hike

Best Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

Are you looking to find the perfect Kings Canyon National Park campground for your trip? This section shares all the details on every in-park campgrounds to help you decide the best fit for you.

All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are sized for six people and have picnic tables, a fire ring with a grill, and a metal food storage box to keep food stored away from bears.

Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park Campgrounds

Grant Grove is home to 3 campgrounds, all clustered close to the lodging and restaurants at Grant Grove Village. If you’re interested in exploring the Giant Sequoias in Kings Canyon or making a day trip to Sequoia National Park, I highly recommend picking a campground in Grant Grove.

Azalea Campground

The only Kings Canyon National Park campground open year-round, Azalea Campground is a popular choice for staying in the Grant Grove area. Part of its appeal is its proximity to both the Grant Grove Village Visitor Center and gift shop and the General Grant Tree Trail. 

The campsites in Azalea Campground are spread out amongst groves of evergreen trees, providing both sunny and shaded sites. Each camp comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

Azalea Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Azalea Campground via National Park Service

Crystal Springs Campground

Crystal Springs Campground is a summer-only campground located near Grant Grove Village. The campsites at Crystal Springs are nestled amongst pine trees, providing plenty of space but less privacy than other campgrounds.

You’ll find Crystal Springs Campground, a short drive from Grant Grove Village along the scenic drive up to Panoramic Point. Each campsite comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

  • Reservations: First-come, first-served for standard sites; group sites are reservable
  • Open: Late May to Mid September
  • Sites: 50 (14 group sites)
  • Toilets: Yes, flush toilets
  • Showers: No
  • Max RV Length: 25 feet
  • See the campground map here
Crystal Springs Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Crystal Springs Campground via National Park Service

Sunset Campground

Sunset Campground is the largest campground in Kings Canyon National Park, with over 150 campsites. If you’re looking to stay in the Grant Grove area, Sunset is a great option, thanks to its size and proximity to the amenities in Grant Grove Village. 

Evergreen trees cover this campground, providing plenty of shade. In the summer, the amphitheater located in the campground is host to the occasional ranger programs. Each campsite comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

Sunset Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Sunset Campground via National Park Service

Cedar Grove, Kings Canyon National Park Camping

Cedar Grove is located deep into Kings Canyon, about an hour from Grant Grove. Staying in Cedar Grove provides you access to some of the best hikes in Kings Canyon, like Mist Falls, Zumwalt Meadow, and Roaring River Falls.

All campgrounds in Cedar Grove are seasonal, typically only open from Memorial Day to early-to-mid Fall.

Sheep Creek Campground

Sheep Creek Campground is my favorite of the seven campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park. Here you’ll find large campsites nestled amongst plenty of trees. The campground sits along the flowing Kings River (pro tip: try to get a campground near the river for peaceful white noise at night).

A small walkway connects Sheep Creek Campground to the nearby Sentinel Campground. From Sheep Creek, you’re only a short drive to the amenities at Cedar Grove Village. Each campsite comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

Sheep Creek Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Sheep Creek Campground via National Park Service

Sentinel Campground

Sentinel Campground is the smallest standard (non-group) campground in Cedar Grove, with only 82 campsites. Adjacent to Sheep Creek Campground, Sentinel Campground also lies along the Kings River. The evergreens here provide plenty of shaded campsites.

The campsites in Sentinel Campground are smaller and closer together than in neighboring Sheep Creek, limiting privacy. Each camp comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

  • Reservations: Yes, reserve here via Recreation.gov
  • Open: Late April to Mid November
  • Sites: 82
  • Toilets: Yes, flush toilets
  • Showers:  Yes, coin-operated located at Cedar Grove Village
  • Max RV Length: 82 feet options (but the average site is only 20-30 feet max)
  • See the campground map here.
Sentinel Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Sentinel Campground via National Park Service

Moraine Campground

Moraine Campground is the largest of the Cedar Grove campgrounds, with over 120 campsites. Moraine is one of the more popular campgrounds in the park, thanks to its scenic views of the towering granite canyon walls.

This campground is more open than others, with less tree coverage (which gives you those canyon views!). You’ll have a bit less privacy here but are a few minutes closer to some of Kings Canyon’s most popular hikes. Each campsite comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

Moraine Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Moraine Campground via National Park Service

Canyon View Group Campground

Canyon View Campground is the only dedicated group campground in Kings Canyon (you’ll also find 14 group campsites in Crystal Springs Campground). In Canyon View, there are 16 group campsites: 12 can accommodate 15 people, and four can accommodate up to 30 people.

Smaller groups cannot stay at this campground as it is only for groups of 7 or more. As with the other campgrounds in Cedar Grove, each campsite comes with fire rings, picnic tables, and food storage boxes.

  • Reservations: Yes, reserve here via Recreation.gov
  • Open: Late May to September
  • Sites: 16 group sites
  • Toilets: Yes, flush toilets
  • Showers:  Yes, coin-operated located at Cedar Grove Village
  • Max RV Length: RVs/Trailer not allowed
  • See the campground map here
Canyon View Group Campground in Kings Canyon National Park
Canyon View Group Campground via National Park Service

Backcountry Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park and nearby Sequoia National Park offer more than 800,000 acres of backcountry wilderness for experienced hikers and campers to explore. To adventure into the backcountry, you’ll need to apply for a wilderness permit.

You can apply for a wilderness permit online up to 6 months in advance via Recreation.gov.

Wilderness permits are also available on a walk-up basis. You can learn more about getting a walk-up permit here.

Other Campgrounds Near Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon is only a short drive from Sequoia National Park. However, if you’re looking to stay in Sequoia National Park instead, seven campgrounds are available there. Read more about the best campgrounds in Sequoia National Park here.

The surrounding Sequoia National Forest has plenty of campgrounds to offer too. The Hume Lake Ranger District lies between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. 

Here are a few of the best sites found near Hume Lake, very close to Kings Canyon:

These are a few of the best campgrounds in Sequoia National Forest between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park:

There are also several opportunities for dispersed camping near Kings Canyon National Park. I highly recommend using The Dyrt to find free, dispersed campsites close to the park in the surrounding national forests.

Read More: The Best Campgrounds in Sequoia National Park

Where to Stay When Not Camping Near Kings Canyon National Park

If you are looking to visit Kings Canyon National Park without camping, you have a few options. There are several lodges in Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Forest, and Sequoia National Park. Nearby towns also offer plenty of hotels close to the park.

View of Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park

If you want to stay inside the park national parks or national forest, choose from:

Staying outside the park will be more budget-friendly but will add a bit of commute time to get to the heart of Sequoia National Park. I recommend these spots near the park:

Frequently Asked Questions About Kings Canyon Campsites

Can you free camp at Kings Canyon?

All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park charge a fee. To camp for free in Kings Canyon National Park, you can dispersed camp in nearby Sequoia National Forest.

Can I sleep in my car at Kings Canyon National Park?

Sleeping in your car is only allowed within a designated campground. You may not sleep in the car at trailheads or in turnouts. Dispersed camping is not permitted in Kings Canyon but is permitted in nearby Sequoia National Forest.

Do you need a permit to camp in Kings Canyon?

Wilderness permits are only required for backcountry camping outside of designated campgrounds. Those wishing to camp in Kings Canyon in the front country must stay in one of the park’s seven campgrounds.

Are there bears in Kings Canyon National Park?

There are black bears in Kings Canyon National Park. Therefore, keeping food secured in a food storage locker when camping and making noise when hiking in Kings Canyon is essential. Bear spray is not allowed in any California national park.

Final Thoughts on the Best Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is a beautiful place for a national park camping trip. From sites along the flowing Kings River to the campgrounds near giant Sequoia groves, you’ll have a wide selection of places to stay.

The seven best campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are:

  1. Sheep Creek Campground
  2. Moraine Campground
  3. Sentinel Campground
  4. Azalea Campground
  5. Sunset Campground
  6. Crystal Springs Campground
  7. Canyon View Group Campground

Are you looking for more ideas for your trip to Kings Canyon National Park? Check out these posts!

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Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

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