Sequoias to be exact, and they live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Both Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon are home to these massively impressive–sometimes dauntingly so–creatures and thanks to the foresight of conservationists in generations past, anyone can witness them.
Luckily for those of us who travel in our RVs, there’s no shortage of places to camp nearby these gargantuan beauties dividing the sky, though it should be noted that entering from the south entrance, near Three Rivers, California, impacts the length of vehicles and how far into the park they can travel due to narrow, winding roads.
The Best Camping for Large RVs
Directly in Sequoia, Potwisha Campground is an example of how a larger RV can limit your experience in these national parks. While Potwisha can accommodate 30′ long RVs and trailers, if you don’t have a smaller vehicle that can detach from your home on wheels, you won’t be able to drive up the gorgeous, but daunting, road to the Sequoias themselves. If you have brought a smaller ride, the experience of leaving the scrub oak foothills and ascending–snow-capped mountains in the distance–the road to the grove that holds General Sherman himself, the largest of the Sequoias, is jaw-dropping. This campground also provides for easy access to Three Rivers where you’ll find basic supplies, a few restaurants, and more RV camping options if you’re not terribly concerned with being directly in the park itself.
Entering the twin parks from the north, however, your options open up significantly. In the Grant Grove area–just as you enter King’s Canyon–Azalea, Crystal Springs and Sunset Campgrounds all accommodate larger RVs and position you perfectly for visiting General Grant–the second largest tree in the world behind General Sherman–and the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. All of these campgrounds, including Potwisha, are dry camping only, so no hookups, however flush toilets and water are available, and the occasional wisp of cell service trickles through them. Reservations are recommended in all but Azalea Campground, where it’s first come, first served camping only.
As you continue through the park, just before crossing the imaginary line that separates Kings Canyon from Sequoia, Stony Creek has spots that hold up to 22′ long RVs, however, if you’ve come to Sequoia to see the world’s tallest trees, Lodgepole Campground–with easy access to a visitor center and not far from General Sherman himself–is likely your best bet. There is no cell service, nor hookups, but showers and flush toilets are available and you’ll find yourself camping beneath one of the most beautiful canopies in the world.
The Best Camping Overall
For those of you traveling a bit lighter, and therefore not limited by size, options within the park continue to open up.
While Azalea and Lodgepole, as mentioned above, are some of the more beloved campgrounds in the entire park, Dorst Creek Campground’s spots tend to be more spread out and oozing with that “real camping” feel. Dorst Creek places you smack dab in the middle of both parks, where wildlife roam in abundance and you can take advantage of the free shuttle that traverses the parks so you won’t have to constantly “up and down” your van or truck camper, though larger spots for big rigs are available as well. Reservations are accepted and often required. You won’t find any cell service here but in exchange, you’ll be treated to the wide variety of massive trees–not just Giant Sequoias–and pristine nature that being further away from the hustle of visitor centers and villages affords. Flush toilets, water and even a dump station are available as well.
Princess Campground is another option if you’re looking for a more secluded camping experience, and while sites can be a little closer to one another, this national forest campground doesn’t tend to fill to the brim as often as those in the actual parks. While there are facilities like trash and vault toilets, note that your cell phone won’t pick up any signal here, and if you plan on having a campfire you’ll need to get a permit first.
Between park entrance fees, online reservation fees and the base price of a campsite itself, camping in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks can get a bit pricey. If your travel style leans more toward winging it and walking away with your wallet intact, the surrounding national forest has several options.
Just beyond Tenmile Campground, a formal campground that accepts reservations, Tenmile Road Camping area is a handful of spread out spots just waiting for the more adventurous traveler to rest beneath the bows of some impressive–if not record-setting–trees. Nearby Western Big Meadows Road is another free camping area, with spots that even include picnic tables, and Cherry Gap is one of the few places this far into the parks where you’ll get any type of cell service, though don’t plan on binging Netflix or anything. Cherry Gap also has picnic tables and is an easy drive to the visitors center, though it’s a narrow road that wouldn’t necessarily allow for two-way traffic, so approach with caution.
Full Hookup RV Camping
While nothing close to full hookups can be found directly within the parks, south of Sequoia National Park, the town of Three Rivers hosts a handful of RV parks where one can let the water, electric and sewage flow. None of them, unfortunately, will have your cell phone humming with happiness, though service is not completely out of the question, it’s just a matter of how questionable you can afford your service to be.
Sequoia RV Ranch tends to take the cake with somewhat standard additional amenities like a dog park and shady spots, while riverfront sites are available and a swimming hole rounds out the experience. Spots are “RV park style” close, but hot showers and WiFi are available for those looking for that more comfortable experience not terribly far from the parks’ boundaries. Three Rivers Hideaway is a small campground that’s been around for a while (and it shows), but also offers the conveniences of town while not being a haul back into Sequoia. None of the sites are riverfront, however, it’s an easy walk to the tree-lined banks of the North Fork Kaweah from any site.
Near the Kings Canyon side of things, a similarly named mobile home park also provides RV hookups and a smattering of cell service to boot.
Experiencing the resplendence of these towering trees is something every traveler should tack onto their bucket list, and that so many options to camp in this mountain forest exist makes the experience all the more lovely to enjoy.