Got a couple of days off? Head to Sequoia National Park where you can fill these 2 days with scenic views, hiking, and wildlife watching.
2 Days in Sequoia National Park Itinerary
Somehow overshadowed by Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks, Sequoia National Park is a beautiful place to spend 2 days in nature. The country’s second national park includes a huge part of the Sierra Nevada in east-central California. For many, the park is home to giant sequoias and the world’s largest tree, measured by volume. Dive a bit deeper, and you’ll find other incredible reasons to spend 2 days in Sequoia National Park. The dramatic beauty of the place manifests in huge mountains, deep canyons, vast caverns, secluded meadows, and alpine lakes. Even Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, couldn’t ask for a better place to call home. It sits right on the boundary of Sequoia Nation Park and Inyo National Forest.
Ready to start exploring the place? Here is our 2 Days in Sequoia National Park itinerary.
The Best Time to Spend 2 Days in Sequoia National Park
Before you hide for 2 days in the woods of Sequoia National Park, think of what kind of escape you are looking for. The place welcomes the visitors all year round. The best time for your 2-day visit, though, comes down to your favorite activities.
Pick time to spend a couple of days exploring different parts of Sequoia National Park is undoubtably June through August. The summer weather is mostly stable without excessive rains that can present difficulties in reaching some of the roads in the park. Heavy snow falls in late fall and winter cause many road closures. The majority of these routes reopen only in mid- or late spring. For more informations about the road conditions, check here.
Early fall and late spring bring fresh colors and shades to the park. The weather is still full of surprises with lots of rain and occasional snow. On the other hand, during these uncertain days you can have the most of Sequoia National Park almost entirely to yourself.
A car is essential if you want to maximize your 2 days in Sequoia National Park. Although you can’t and don’t want to dismiss hiking altogether, it’s impossible to explore the 629-square-miles park solely on foot. Numerous parking lots along the Generals Highway, the park’s central road, come in handy. Winding from the Ash Mountains to Kings Canyon National Park, the highway takes you closer to the most popular attractions and trailheads of Sequoia National Park. The only downside of these parking lots is their small sizes and limited spaces. If you are not an early-riser, you might need to wait longer for a spot to become available or look for other places to park.
Park’s free shuttle system is a great alternative for those who want to take the most out of their 2 days in Sequoia National Park. The routes connect the main areas and let you enjoy the park without any worry of the parking situation.
HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK:
Day 1: Giant Forest and Lodgepole Campground Area
The Giant Forest is a prime destination to spend 1 or 2 days in Sequoia National Park. The area is nestled at about 6,000 feet above sea level and contains some of the signature sites of the park.
Marble Falls Trail
It takes approximately 45 minutes to get to the Giant Forest from the entrance of the park. While a 17-mile distance seems easy at first, the winding road can make you dizzy especially if you’re not accustomed to them. So be sure to take a break and hike to Marble Falls along the way.
The 8-mile round trip trail starts near site #14 at Potwisha campground. It takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes to hike to the waterfall and back. Since it’s a rather long hike, start the first of your 2 days in Sequoia National Park as early as possible. There are a few parking spots available for those who are not staying at the campground. The trail is especially beautiful in April and May when flowers bloom.
The Giant Forest Museum
The Giant Forest Museum along with a system of short trails leading to Round Meadow enhances your visit to Sequoia National Park with stories and history of the place. The museum is open all year round. For more information, visit the historic Giant Forest Market building. The place opened its doors as a museum and visitor center in 2001.
The Big Trees Trail
The Big Trees Trail helps match the informations obtained at the visitor center with real life experiences. This short, 0.75 miles, trail starts at the Giant Forest Museum and circles Round Meadow. It’s certainly one of the shortest trails you will take in Sequoia National Park in the next 2 days.
Moro Rock, a granite dome that was seducing you from afar while you were driving to the Giant Forest, is the highlight of the park. The place offers both a tedious hike up a 300-feet stairway and astounding view of the Great Western Divide. If walking up the stairs doesn’t suffice you, add additional 1.5 miles to your days-long hiking adventure in Sequoia National Park. The Moro Rock Trail starts across the street from the Giant Forest Museum.
Read more: A Guide to Hiking Moro Rock in Sequoia Park
While choosing to spend most of your 2 days on foot and hiking the entire Moro Rock Trail, be sure to check out Handing Rock, another landmark of Sequoia National Park. You can access the 0.1-mile trail at the junction of the Moro Rock Trail with a paved road. From here take the trail to the right. In a few minutes, Hanging Rock along with panoramic views of Moro Rock will come into the picture.
Sequoia National Park’s Tunnel Log
Ready to take a short break from all the walking and hiking during your 2-day visit to Sequoia National Park? Jump into the car and drive through Sequoia Park’s fallen “Tunnel Log”. The fallen giant is located a short drive away from Moro Rock along the Crescent Meadow Road. The tunnel came into existence in late 1937 when one of the sequoias fell across the road. About six months later, the visitors of the Sequoia National Park could spend their days driving through the tree tunnel. The attractions is 17 feet wide and 8 feet high. A bypass for taller vehicles is also available.
From Sequoia National Park’s Tunnel Log continue on along the Crescent Meadow Road for another 3 minutes (1.1 miles). At the end of this drive, hit the Tharp Log Trail that skirts Crescent Meadow, one of the largest montane meadows in the Giant Forest.
General Sherman Tree
Now it’s time to get back in the car and drive back to the Giant Forest Museum. From here, head to the right along the Generals Highway. The small parking area, nestled a short walk away from the General Sherman Tree, is just 2 miles away.
The famous tree is arguably the main attraction of the Giant Forest. By volume, it’s the largest tree on Earth. The massive sequoia stands 275 feet (84 meters) tall and measures 103 feet (31 meter) in diameter at the base. Days in and days out, the visitors of Sequoia National Park gather here to admire the stunning giant. Thus, be sure to arrive early in the morning it you want to enjoy the place with less crowds.
Once back in the car, drive to the right along the Generals Highway and then onto the Lodgepole Road. It takes approximately 9 minutes to cover the distance of 3.3 miles. The trail to Tokopah Falls starts near Lodgepole campground and climbs for 1.7 miles along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River to the Tokopah Canyon. The hike is considered moderate. It’s the first time in a few days you are going to spend here, a part of Sequoia National Park reminds you of Kings Canyon National Park. Surrounded by huge rocks, waters of Tokopah Falls cascade down from a height of 1,200 feet.
Day 2: Mineral King
The last of 2 days in Sequoia National Park has less landmarks, but a lot more hiking. As you are heading into the Mineral King Valley, altitude increases. The floor of the valley is located 7,500 feet above sea level, making hiking at this elevation strenuous.
Start your day by driving to the Mineral King Region of Sequoia National Park. A set of two alpine lakes, Upper and Lower Monarch Lakes, sits here at the base of Sawtooth Peak. To see this picturesque duo, you need to traverse on foot 4.2 miles one way and climb over 2,500 feet. So allow yourself 5 to 6 hours for the entire hike.
Begin your hiking adventure at the Sawtooth Trailhead near the end of Mineral King. At the junction with the Crystal Lake Trail, turn left and follow the trail for over a mile to Lower Monarch Lake. Upper Monarch Lake is a short hike up the rocky slope away. This part of Sequoia Nation Park can easily occupy you not for a few hours, but a few days. You can pat yourself on the back and enjoy the astounding views for a little bit longer or hit the trail again.
It’s almost time to say farewell to Sequoia National Park after 2 unforgettable days filled with the hikes and breathtaking views. But first Crystal Lake! The trail to Crystal Lake also starts at the Sawtooth Trailhead. It runs for 4.9 miles one way. After following the Monarch Lakes Trail, it departs it at Chihuahua Bowl and moves southward until it ends at Crystal Lake.
2 Days in Sequoia National Park: Where to Stay
Whether you spend 2 days or a week in Sequoia National Park, staying as close to its natural attractions as possible is essential. It’s quite an experience on its own. What can be better than waking up early in the morning and being ready to hit the trail right away? Even stars seem to shine brighter in a place with practically no pollution. With that, there are just a few accommodations to consider for your 2 days in Sequoia National Park.
WUKSACHI LODGE. Nestled at the elevation of 7,050 feet in the Giant Forest, Wuksachi Lodge offers spacious guest rooms, a full-service restaurant, cocktail lounge, and retail shop. The place welcomes the visitors all year round. Due to deep snow, though, you can have some difficulties when trying to reach the place in winter. Thus, tire chains are necessary when spending a few days in Sequoia National Park at this time.
LODGEPOLE CAMPGROUND. From May though September, Lodgepole campground gives you a beautiful opportunity to stay as close to the nature as possible. The place is located 2 miles from the Giant Forest. There are over 200 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers available in summer. Booking in advance is always recommended, as the place fills up quickly.
BUCKEYE TREE LODGE & CABINS. Set right in front of the entrance to the park, Buckeye Tree Lodge & Cabins has it all: easy access to markets and beautiful river views straight from your cabin’s door. You hardly need anything else to enjoy short 2 days in Sequoia National Park.
PEBBLE CREEK. If you plan to devote 2 or more days to Sequoia National Park, consider getting an Airbnb. We stayed at Pebble Creek in Three Rivers and couldn’t recommend it more.
What to Pack for 2 Days in Sequoia National Park
- Due to big differences in elevations, the weather varies significantly. Thus, be sure to bring a full change of clothes, including socks, layered tops, and hoodies. Hiking through the woods is also more comfortable when you wear leggings or long pants. A lightweight rain jacket comes in handy when the weather surprises you with unexpected rain.
- The park usually requires you to carry bear resistant food containers if you plan to backpack or camp. It’s a good idea to store your food in one of these canisters even if don’t spend your entire 2 days in the woods of Sequoia National Park.
- And there is simply no excuses to not pack a good sunscreen.