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“Marmots and road facts & comparisons” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mineral King Road

Mineral King Road
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA
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Activities: Driving
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Owner description: A challenging scenic road.
Los Angeles
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
82 helpful votes 82 helpful votes
“Marmots and road facts & comparisons”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2012

MARMOTS: there is no concern about marmots chewing car engine hoses except in early summer. You can ask a ranger to confirm this, as I did.


Although the road is only one lane wide in a few spots, if you go no faster than 15-20 miles per hour, stay on your side of the road, and look ahead to see cars coming, chances are there will be a turnout where you can stop and wait for them to go by.

My husband drove our 4Runner up to Atwell Mill Campground on Friday, September 16, 2011 around 1:30-2:30 p.m. We never had to back up to let another car go by. We encountered maybe six cars coming down, either at wide enough spots or we could see each other soon enough for one or the other car to wait in a wide spot.

The 23-site (or is it 24?) campground had only about four-five sites occupied on Friday night, only two on Saturday night, and between Saturday and Sunday we saw only a few sluggish mosquitoes, seven deer (strolling through the campground) and four bears (two strolling separately through the campground, one running away from the trail, one crossing the Mineral King Road)!

When you start going up Mineral King Road, the road is essentially never straight. It constantly turns right or left. The driver must constantly be turning the steering wheel, right, more to the right, more to the right, left, more, more, right, left, right, left, etc.

The road width varies between two narrow lanes and one narrow lane, every few breaths. It gets wider between the National Park entrance and Atwell Mill Campground.

Visibility varies from seeing the road a few hundred yards ahead, to blind, one-lane curves around steep rocks. After one such turn, we found a cow standing on the road's right edge, against the cliff, grazing.

Although there are no guard rails, the edge of the road is never precipitous. There are often grasses, bushes, and trees along the road's edge that make it look even less steep. See photos.

To see how the road never goes up or down steeply, see photos.

If I had to drive on this road, I would likely go at 15 (not 20) miles per hour, so it would take me more than an hour, therefore the challenge for me would be to maintain such intense alertness and precise responsiveness for that long.

On Sunday we drove on (up) to Silver City and the campground beyond. The road was narrower more of the time. On the way down to the bottom of Mineral King Road, we encountered about three bikers pedaling up.


- Compared to road #30 (Honoapiilani Highway to the west, Kahekili Highway to the east) around the northwest coast of Maui, Mineral Kind Road is easier because it lacks sections that are simultaneously narrow, steep, and long--especially when you have to back all the way down a long, steep, one-lane slope to let a pick-up truck go by!

- Compared to Road 612 to Bjargtangar, the westernmost point in Iceland (and Europe), Mineral King Road is much easier. Road 612 in Iceland doesn't have steep grades, but it is narrow, unpaved, loose gravel, along a steeper cliffside, half-way between ocean and sky. Driving west requires driving along the ocean side of the road, with locals barreling down the other way. I drove an SUV out that way and was scared the whole time--thank goodness it didn't take very long!

Visited September 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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21 reviews from our community

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  • English first
  • German first
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English first
Hamilton, New Jersey
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Scary road that's worth the drive!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2011

We didn't really know what to expect, except a lot of turns. It's scary, it takes a long time, and probably isn't worth it if you don't intend to hike, but did we have fun! I drove the way up, my husband drove the way down. Expect to want a drink once you return to the bottom. Expect to be scared most of the way. You will see cattle. You will see locals driving at what you think are Nascar speeds (when we hit 8 mph we thought we were too fast...) The scenary is incredible, and the experience was worth every minute!

Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, CA
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Mineral King - Worth the trip for the amazing hiking!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2010

We camped 3 nights at Cold Springs Campground and hiked up to Eagle Lake in the Mineral King area. The area is beautiful and there are so many hikes! We only got to do one major day hike and can't wait to go back to finish more. The drive up to the Mineral King area is narrow and winding (which keeps out the big RVs!) - if you get easily motion sick, I don't recommend the drive. But I think the drive is absolutely worth it. Cold Springs Campground is first come, first serve, so be sure to get up there early on Friday if you're going for a weekend. WARNING: Marmots are everywhere! And they love to chew on car hoses and other parts! If you are going to camp or going for an overnight hike, bring a large tarp and lots of rope and/or bungee cords. Highly recommend fully wrapping/covering the bottom of your vehicle. Marmot "attacks" on cars are common and the tow down is $$$ if they disable your car!

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
chula vista.calif
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“a prefect place to relax and enjoy natural”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2009

The first time we enter king cayon I new i would love it , it's easy going we camp at one of the site and it was so peaceful almost every camp site is close by the river and you can hear it while relaxing there is plenty to do, we went to boyden caves and took short walks to the falls and meadows there is fishing also in the streams I guess its for fly fishing or spiners? We also went horseback rideing, we went late in the season so we had the guide and the tour all to ourselves. very pleasant..

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reno, nevada
19 reviews 19 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
“Mineral King Valley trail was spectacular!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2009

We took the hike to Eagle Lake - 3.4 miles one way - very steep, goes thru granite boulder field and meadows, streams - all while climbing 2200 feet to about 10,200 foot level. Once we got there, we were the only ones there besides deer and marmots. It was the climb of a lifetime! with views and terrain that we shall long remember. The lake was crystal clear. The hike, one way, took us about 2 hrs. We had left around 3:15 in the afternoon - I'd suggest going around 2 at the latest so you can spend more time at the top. Never saw a bear, but heard from hikers on the way down that they had talked to hikers who said there was one on the trail lower down. Bears use the trails!

HOWEVER, the rest of the story is more bleak. The road up to MK is about the width of one freeway lane, no guardrails and goes along the sides of extremely steep mountains. You pray not to meet anyone or anyone going too fast or straying to the middle. The nailbiting goes on and on for 25 miles or about 1.5 hours. Once you get there, it's a crap shoot whether you can get a campsite or not. Cold Springs campground was full; Atwell had 4 spaces left on Friday July 10. Then all your food (plus lipstick and anything scented) must go into a bear proof container - which becomes an oven if you happen to get a campsite with one in the sun. There goes your ice. Mornings you hear the constant hum of bees and all day long you are swatting three varieties of flies that bite, plus mosquitos at night. Warm enough for tank top and shorts, but buggy enough to wear long sleeves and pants. Not exactly a picnic. Firewood is plentiful. The pit toilets are absolutely disgusting. We don't have a cell phone, but the ranger says reception is unreliable. There is a pay phone at the Cold Springs campground - $1 for 4 minutes. Parking is at a premium. Only one vehicle per campsite is allowed - others must park in overflow parking - which there isn't alot of. AND, there's the marmots. The little buggars like to chew your radiator hoses and such, so you are sort of sweating it if you leave your vehicle for any length of time. We saw some people who wrapped the entire bottom of their vehicles in an attempt to keep them out.

The other disappointing thing is that --- here you are travelling 25 hairy miles into remote wilderness and think you'll be more or less alone - and lo and behold, PEOPLE! CABINS! LOUDMOUTHS! There's even a small town up there - Silver City - between the two campgrounds! This area of Sequoia only became part of the park in '78. Some areas are privately owned.

So, for us, personally, the hike was truly the highlight of the trip and like no other I've ever been on. But would I go back? No. Would I recommend it? Yes - perhaps tho more like in Sept or May during the week when you can more or less count on getting a campsite and when maybe the bugs, people and marmots aren't around as much. Then spend a week and do as many trails as you can.

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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