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Visitor Centers and Museums
Sequoia and Kings Canyon offer a variety of visitor centers, ranger stations, and wilderness permit stations. These hubs of information, maps and interpretive displays serve as perfect introductions to this land of grandeur you're about to explore, from the tall trees to the steep canyons and everything in between.
Sequoia National Park
At the heart of the park, in the shade of towering sequoias and redwood groves, the Giant Forest is home to half of the Earth's largest and longest-living trees. Named in 1875 by John Muir, the forest is a stand of more than 8,000 colossal sequoia trees – many standing just as Muir found them. Thanks to his eco-heroic conservation efforts, there is still a splendid chance to stand before a majestic, thousands-year old giant sequoia.
General Sherman – the Largest Tree on Earth
The undisputed King of the Giant Forest, the General Sherman Tree is not only the largest living tree in the world, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. A giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), General Sherman is approximately:
- 2,100 years old
- 2.7 million pounds
- 275 feet tall
- 36 feet in diameter at the base
The Giant Forest Museum
This museum is located about one hour north of the park's Ash Mountain Entrance. Built in 1928, the historic museum building served as Sequoia National Park's original market, and was designed by renowned architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. Numerous interpretive forest trails lead away from the museum.
Hours of Operation (year-round): Open daily 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. during the summer months. Winter hours: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Foothills Visitor Center
Located on the Generals Highway one mile north of the Ash Mountain Entrance. The focus here is on the Sierran foothills, the most biologically diverse area of these parks. Tickets for Crystal Cave tour sold here.
Hours of Operation (year-round): Open daily 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Lodgepole Visitor Center
Generals Highway 21 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance, 2 miles north of the General Sherman Tree. Here, explore the natural and human history of the southern Sierra Nevada and view a short video, "Bears of the Sierra." Crystal Cave tour tickets are sold here.
Hours of Operation: Open daily 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. (summer only); closed winter
Kings Canyon National Park
The deepest canyon in North America, Kings Canyon offers a massive panorama of scenery that, like the big trees up the road, is above and beyond. Many opportunities to engage this national park treasure, from picnic tables to campgrounds and national park lodging, are available.
A mixed conifer and sequoia forest surrounds the General Grant Tree Trail at Grant Grove. Other points of interest include the Gamlin Cabin and the Fallen Monarch along the 1/3-mile paved trail. Take the North Grove Loop, a lightly traveled, 1.5-mile trail that leads away from the pavement for a closer look at the big trees.
The focal point of Grant Grove, the General Grant Tree is the third largest in the world at nearly 50,000 cubic feet, almost 300 feet tall and has the largest base diameter of any tree in the world at more than 40 feet. Named in 1867 for General and President Ulysses S. Grant, proclaimed "the Nation's Christmas Tree" in the 1920s by President Calvin Coolidge, and honored as a living national shrine in memory of Americans lost during wars by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the General Grant Tree is one celebrated sequoia!
Kings Canyon Visitor Center
In Grant Grove Village, three miles east from the Big Stump Entrance on Highway 180, the Kings Canyon Visitor Center serves as a compelling introduction to the trinity of treasures in Kings Canyon National Park: giant sequoia groves, the canyon lands, and the High Sierra. Books, maps, gifts and educational materials for sale.
Hours of Operation (year-round): Open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (summer). Winter hours usually begin in late October: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., and winter hours may be reduced to 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at times.
Cedar Grove Visitor Center
Cedar Grove Visitor Center is located on Highway 180, 30 miles east of Grant Grove, and next to Sentinel Campground on the floor of Kings Canyon. It's open Memorial Day through Labor Day. The center provides information on the attractions in the Cedar Grove area, ranging from guidebooks and maps to educational materials and first-aid treatment.
Hours of Operation: Open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (summer only); closed winter