The Ultimate Guide to the Best Camping in Sequoia National Park

Campsite in Atwell Mill Campground in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park has it all, from dense old-growth forests to waterfalls, including the world’s most giant tree! You could easily spend days exploring the tree-lined hiking trails and vista points.

While Sequoia National Park does have one lodge, the best way to stay inside the park (and close to the trails!) is in one of the park’s seven campgrounds. 

This guide to the best camping in Sequoia National Park covers everything you need to know for a successful camping trip to this California national park.

From campsites nestled amongst the sequoias to those down in the warmer Foothills region, you’ll have your pick of places to stay near the best attractions in Sequoia National Park.

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

Looking for more ideas for your trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon? Don’t miss these posts!

Looking for more ideas for your national park bucket list? Don’t miss this Ultimate National Park Checklist, complete with the best things to do in all 63 USA National Parks!

Before diving in, here are a few highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer is the best time to visit both these national parks. From June to September, all park roads are open and the weather is perfect for hiking. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, consider visiting in May or October instead.
  • Where to Stay: If you’re looking to stay in the park, you’ll have plenty of lodges and campgrounds to choose from. I recommend Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia or Cedar Grove Lodge in Kings Canyon. Outside the parks, book a spot nearby The Parks Inn Bed & Breakfast.
  • How to Get There: The closest airport is in Fresno, California. You can also fly into San Francisco or Oakland, both 4 hours away. Use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.
  • How to Get Around: The easiest way to get around both Sequoia and Kings Canyon is in your own car. Use Discover Cars to browse deals on rental cars or rent an RV or campervan with Outdoorsy.
  • Don’t Forget: Be sure to get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass ahead of time. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and get you into all 400+ national park sites (including both Sequoia and Kings Canyon.)

Overview of the Best Campsites in Sequoia National Park

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Sequoia National Park has seven campgrounds spread across various regions of the park.

The Lodgepole area is close to the most popular areas of the park. The two campgrounds are tree-covered but densely populated. Here you’ll find Lodgepole Campground and Dorst Creek Campground.

The Foothills area is home to the most campgrounds in Sequoia National Park. Here you’ll find Buckeye Flat Campground, Potwisha Campground, and South Fork Campground. In addition, the Foothills region is at a lower elevation than other areas of the park. So if you’re looking to camp in Sequoia National Park in the winter, this is where you’ll stay.

The Mineral King area is one of the least visited areas in Sequoia National Park. Home to several alpine lakes, it’s the perfect way to explore the Sierras and escape the crowds found in other areas of the park. Here you’ll find two campgrounds: Cold Springs Campground and Atwell Mill Campground.

Read More: 7 Best Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

How to Make a Reservation at the Best Campground in Sequoia National Park

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

To reserve a campground in Sequoia 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 release for the campground you’re interested in. At this point, campgrounds in Sequoia 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.

Standing in front of a sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park

Tips for Staying at the Best Campgrounds in Sequoia National Park

  • A camping reservation in Sequoia 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 at any of the park campgrounds. Three campgrounds have dump stations: Potwisha, Lodgepole, and Dorst Creek. Generator hours vary by campground but are generally not allowed after dark.
  • RV camping in Sequoia National Park is only allowed at designated campgrounds. You’ll need to check the restrictions and max lengths for each individual 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.
  • Sequoia 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 Sequoia.
  • 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 Sequoia National Park.

Visiting multiple national parks in the next year?
The America the Beautiful National Park Pass gets you into 400+ national park sites, including all 63 national parks, for a full 12 months!
>> Get yours before your trip for only $80 here.

What to Pack for Camping in Sequoia National Park

  • 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.

Looking for more tips on what to pack for your trip? Check out my guides on the best hiking gear, what to pack for a road trip, and essential camping gear for all my favorite gear picks and tips to make packing for your trip a breeze!

Best Campgrounds Sequoia National Park

Are you looking to find the perfect Sequoia 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.

Lodgepole Campground

Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

Lodgepole Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in Sequoia National Park. Located along the Kaweah River, the expansive campground offers over 200 campsites. For a centrally-located campground close to popular hikes in Sequoia and amenities, stay at Lodgepole. The only downside is campsites are relatively small and provide little privacy.

  • Location: Lodgepole
  • Reservations: Yes, reserve here via Recreation.gov
  • Open: Late April to Late November (Closed December to mid-April)
  • Sites: 214 (76 tents only, 16 walk-ins)
  • Toilets: Yes, flush toilets
  • Showers: Yes, coin-operated showers at Lodgepole Village (Closed in 2021)
  • Max RV Length: 40 feet
  • What’s Nearby: Lodgepole Village & Visitor Center, Sequoia Shuttle Stop, Tokopah Falls Trail
  • See the campground map here

Dorst Creek Campground

Dorst Creek Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

For another centrally-located camping option in the Lodgepole area, you can opt for Dorst Creek Campground. Dorst Creek is further north than Lodgepole, perfect for exploring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks on the same trip. In addition, the campground has a shuttle stop, making it easy to access the General Sherman Tree and Giant Forest area in the busy summer months.

  • Location: Lodgepole
  • Reservations: Yes, reserve here via Recreation.gov
  • Open: Mid-June to Early September (Closed in 2021)
  • Sites: 222 (33 RV Only, 12 Tent Only)
  • Toilets: Yes, flush toilets
  • Showers: No
  • Max RV Length: No restrictions (some campsites may have specific limitations)
  • What’s Nearby: Muir Grove Trail, Sequoia Shuttle Stop
  • See the campground map here

Potwisha Campground

Campsite in Potwisha Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

Potwisha Campground is one of the few campgrounds in Sequoia National Park that is open year-round. The summers here are hot and dry, a stark contrast to the heart of the sequoia forests to the north. In the winter, the campground is usually snow-free, thanks to the lower elevation. Potwisha offers nearly 50 campsites scattered amongst the oak trees.

Buckeye Flat Campground

Campsite in Buckeye Flat Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

Located in the warmer, Foothills region in the southern part of Sequoia National Park, Buckeye Flat is one of the smaller campgrounds in Sequoia National Park. The campground lies along the Kaweah River, providing peaceful river sounds at night. Compared to other areas, this campground feels slightly less crowded but is much hotter in the summer months.

South Fork Campground

Campsite in South Fork Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

With only ten campsites, the South Fork Campground is the smallest in Sequoia National Park. A stay here is very primitive in a remote area of the Foothills region. There is no potable water at this campground, so you’ll need to bring your own. The sites spread across a grassy field along the Kaweah River. For a quieter escape from crowds in this popular national park, South Fork is an excellent option if you’re willing to rough it. 

  • Location: Foothills
  • Reservations: No, first-come, first-served
  • Open: Year-round
  • Sites: 10 (Only tent sites, no RV sites)
  • Toilets: Yes, pit toilets
  • Showers: No
  • What’s Nearby: Garfield Grove Trail, Ladybug Trail

Cold Springs Campground

Campsite at Cold Springs Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

If you want to escape the crowds and camp in the alpine without having to hike into the backcountry, Cold Springs Campground is a great option. It’s further away from the famous attractions like the Giant Forest in Sequoia but offers plenty of opportunities to hike to the Sierra’s alpine lakes and mountain peaks. A stay in Cold Springs is an excellent getaway for hikers but adds an extra 1.5 hours each way to get to the famous Sequoia groves.

  • Location: Mineral King
  • Reservations: Yes, reserve here via Recreation.gov
  • Open: Late May to Early October
  • Sites: 40 (Only tent sites, no RV sites)
  • Toilets: Yes, pit toilets
  • Showers: No
  • What’s Nearby: Lakes Trail and many other Mineral King trails a short drive away on Mineral King Road
  • See the campground map here

Atwell Mill Campground

Campsite in Atwell Mill Campground in Sequoia National Park
Source: National Park Service

Atwell Mill is in the more remote area of Sequoia National Park: Mineral King. Its quiet location amongst plenty of trees, providing lots of privacy for a relaxing camping trip. Like Cold Springs Campground, Atwell Mill is 1.5 hours away from the heart of Sequoia National Park, making it an excellent option for exploring the Sierras but not as much for visiting the famous Sequoia groves in the Giant Forest area.

  • Location: Mineral King
  • Reservations: No, first-come, first-served
  • Open: Late May to Early October (Closed in 2021)
  • Sites: 21 (Only tent sites, no RV sites)
  • Toilets: Yes, pit toilets
  • Showers: No
  • What’s Nearby: Atwell-Hockett Trail, Silver City Resort
  • See the campground map here

Read More: 18 Best Hikes in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park Best Campground in the Backcountry

Sequoia National Park and nearby Kings Canyon 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. 

Click here to apply for a wilderness permit online.

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

The High Sierra Trail is one of the most popular backcountry trails in Sequoia National Park. This route begins at Crescent Meadow, a popular day hike in Sequoia National Park. From there, hikers can make their way to the Bearpaw High Sierras Camp. Here you’re rewarded with a more luxurious backcountry experience with meals and tents provided.

View of sequoias and the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Moro Rock
Sierra Nevada Mountains

Best Campgrounds Near Sequoia National Park

Suppose you can’t find availability at a campground in Sequoia National Park or are interested in exploring more surrounding parks, like Kings Canyon. In that case, there are plenty more opportunities to camp nearby!

Kings Canyon National Park shares a border with Sequoia National Park and is operated by the same National Park Service staff. As a result, the parks are commonly referred to jointly as Sequoia & Kings Canyon. In addition, Kings Canyon offers seven campsites.

If you’re looking to stay in Kings Canyon but still close enough to visit Sequoia National Park for a day trip, choose from the three campgrounds found at Grant Grove Village:

If you’re looking to spend more time in the heart of Kings Canyon, spend a few days camping at one of the many sites in Cedar Grove Village:

Read More: 7 Best Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

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. 

These are a few of the best campgrounds in Sequoia National Forest closest to Sequoia National Park:

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

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

Where to Stay When Not Camping in Sequoia National Park

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

The only lodge inside Sequoia National Park is the Wuksachi Lodge. This rustic lodge offers excellent proximity to many of Sequoia National Park’s best attractions, including the General Sherman Tree and Giant Forest.

View of Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park

If you want to stay inside the nearby Kings Canyon National Park or Sequoia National Forest, choose from:

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

FAQs on Finding the Best Campsite in Sequoia National Park

Do I need reservations for Sequoia?

Visiting Sequoia National Park for a day trip does not require a reservation. However, a reservation is highly recommended to stay inside the park at one of the park lodges or campgrounds, particularly in summer. In shoulder months, first-come, first-served camping is available.

Can you stay overnight at Sequoia National Park?

Yes, you can stay overnight at Sequoia National Park in the park’s designated campgrounds or lodges. Sequoia offers both reservable campgrounds and first-come, first-serve campgrounds. However, you cannot camp outside designated campgrounds or backcountry on any of the national park roads.

Where can I camp in my car in Sequoia National Park?

If you wish to camp in your car in Sequoia National Park, you’ll need to do that at one of the park’s designated campgrounds. If you’re looking for free, dispersed camping, look for sites in nearby Sequoia National Forest or Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Can you camp for free in Sequoia National Park?

While there’s no free camping in Sequoia National Park, the surrounding areas in Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument offer free, dispersed camping.

What is the best time of year to visit Sequoia National Park?

The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is in the summer, from June through early September. Snow has melted, and park roads are open to popular attractions like the General Sherman tree. All park campgrounds are also available by late spring or early summer.

How many days do you need in Sequoia National Park?

To fully explore Sequoia National Park, I recommend spending two days. A few days in the park gives you plenty of time to explore the best sights, including General Sherman Tree, Giant Forest, Moro Rock, and Crescent Meadow.

Do I need bear spray in Sequoia?

Bear spray is not allowed in Sequoia National Park as it is illegal in California. The bears found in this park are the less aggressive black bears. You can practice bear safety by keeping your distance from wildlife, storing food in lockers, and making noise on hiking trails.

Final Thoughts on the Best Camping in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is a beautiful place for a national park camping trip. From sites near alpine lakes to those nestled in the woods, you’ll have a wide selection of places to stay.

The best campgrounds in Sequoia National Park are:

  1. Lodgepole Campground
  2. Dorst Creek Campground
  3. Potwisha Campground
  4. Buckeye Flat Campground
  5. South Fork Campground
  6. Cold Springs Campground
  7. Atwell Mill Campground

Looking for more ideas for your trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon? Don’t miss these posts!

Don’t Forget to Save This Post on Pinterest ⤵︎

Best Camping in Sequoia National Park Pinterest Pin
Best Camping in Sequoia National Park Pinterest Pin

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.