Visitors and staff at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park have become accustomed to the light winters that the drought has produced, but recent snow surveys show that Sequoia and Kings Canyon is 153% of normal, and there are areas that still have 6-10 feet of snow in early April.
Another result of the recent drought is the large number of hazard trees in the campgrounds and parking areas that usually open in April or early May.
Azalea Campground closed on Tuesday, April 2 due to the large number of hazard trees in the campground. This is a temporary closure. In an abundance of caution for park visitors, crews are working to address these tree hazards before facilities open for the season.
Cutting and clearing these trees is one of the highest priorities for crews at Sequoia and Kings Canyon this spring, as conditions allow. With the closure of Azalea Campground, there are currently no open campgrounds in Kings Canyon. If you are looking for opportunities to camp during this time of year, Potwisha, Buckeye Flat, and South Fork Campgrounds in the foothills of Sequoia National Park are open.
Currently, there is 6-10 feet of snow on the ground in parking lots and around buildings in Giant Forest and Lodgepole. The Main Sherman Tree Parking Area and comfort station are still buried in snow, as shown in the photo. This large parking lot is closed. There is space for about fifteen vehicles to park at the Winter Sherman Tree Parking Area. Many visitors are parking at the Giant Forest Museum parking lot and hiking or snowshoeing the 2.7 miles on the Alta Trail to see the Sherman Tree. Check at Giant Forest Museum for more details and routes. It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
In Kings Canyon National Park, the General Grant Tree Trail is open. Kings Canyon Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In Giant Forest and Grant Grove, be prepared for winter conditions. Although forecasts call for 80-degree temperatures in Fresno later this week, the snowpack persists at higher elevations. More storms may be on the way. Please be prepared.
If you’re considering a wilderness trip this year, it’s not too early to start thinking about how this deep snowpack will affect your plans, particularly in the early part of the summer. Some things to expect: challenging route finding, swift creek crossings, icy passes, and delayed grazing opening dates.
With the heavy snow year and hazard trees, park staff will continue to monitor and assess conditions and will be pro-active in letting the public know when conditions change; and as we start opening facilities or about additional delays. For updates, please visit at http://www.nps.gov/seki.