Celebrate the Fourth of July weekend in your national park. Safety is a top priority for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, please obey all restrictions and plan ahead. Read below for things to know, and always check their website for the latest information.
Campgrounds All campgrounds are expected to be open by June 29. All online reservations for the weekend are booked, and first-come-first-serve (walk-in) campsites are likely to fill by Friday afternoon.
Fire Restrictions For everyone’s safety, fireworks are not allowed in the parks.
Fire restrictions go into effect 8am on June 28. This means that wood or charcoal fire will be prohibited in Buckeye Flat, Potwisha, and South Fork Campgrounds, as well as Ash Mountain and Hospital Rock Picnic Areas. This also includes Wilderness areas below 6,000 feet.
Gas, propane, alcohol (with or without a shutoff valve), and tablet/cube stoves are still permitted in all areas. Smoking is also prohibited below 6,000 feet, except within an enclosed vehicle, a building in which smoking is allowed, a campground or picnic area where wood and charcoal fires are allowed, or a designated smoking area.
River Safety This year’s heavy snow pack and warming temperatures have resulted in extremely dangerous river conditions. There have been three river related fatalities in 2017. The cold, swift, and dangerous Kaweah River and South Fork of the Kings River is posing a greater risk to public safety than in recent years. The park urges visitors to enjoy areas of the park that are away from the river. Getting in the river or going near it could create a life or death situation.
Snow melt is causing creeks and rivers to rise. It’s possible to cross a creek during periods when the water is running lower, and find the same creek impossible to cross within the same day, causing visitors to become stranded overnight. If you have any doubt about your ability to safely cross a creek or river you are urged to turn around. Even the best swimmers can find themselves in a difficult situation under the current water conditions.
Wilderness Travel The bridge at South Fork Kings River in Upper Paradise Valley along the Woods Creek Trail was severely damaged over the winter and has fallen into the water. There are no other developed crossings in the area and visitors who intended to use the bridge should adjust their plans.
The snow pack in the Sierra is still significant, with more than ten feet of snow still on the ground at the higher elevations. Snow levels are patchy around 9,000 feet and continuous at 10,000 feet. This means the high mountain passes including those along the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail may be difficult, treacherous, or impassable.
Warmer temperatures are causing snow to melt and creeks are running under what appears to be stable snow, creating snow bridges. There is a danger of falling several feet through a snow bridge into rushing water. Wilderness users are urged to use extreme caution. “Streams and creeks are continuing to rise and visitors should take care when attempting undeveloped stream crossings,” said Wilderness Assistant Pablo Garzon.
Traffic Congestion During the summer season long lines of cars have extended from the entrance stations. On the busiest days cars have waited in line for over an hour to get through. Parking in most areas of the park has also become crowded. To avoid long waiting periods it is recommended to arrive prior to 10am or after 3pm and have your method of payment ready when you arrive at the gate. Having snacks, water, and a full tank of gas is also recommended.
Help decrease waiting times by purchasing your park pass online. This greatly reduces the amount of time spent at the entrance gate. Visit www.yourpassnow.com for more information.
The Sequoia Shuttle is a great way to have a more enjoyable park experience. The Sequoia Shuttle runs from Visalia to the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park (via Hwy 198). The $15 reservation cost includes your entrance fee.
Once in the park, free shuttles will take you from the Giant Forest area to Lodgepole, Wuksachi, Dorst Campground, and back. Driving your own vehicle from site to site increases traffic congestion and pollution. Shuttles are free and most operate from 8am to 6pm. Please check the park newspaper or website for up-to-date shuttle information and times.
On weekends and holidays, Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is closed to personal vehicles. Access that area by shuttle, bicycle, or on foot. On weekdays, even though the Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road is open to cars, parking is extremely limited. Please consider parking your car at Giant Forest Museum or another parking lot and riding the shuttle into that area.
Road Construction No road construction will take place over the holiday weekend. Road delays are expected to stop by Friday, June 30 at 5pm and start back up on Wednesday, July 5 at 5am.
Bears The Park is seeing more bears this summer. 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 information and the latest updates please visit the website.