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Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

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Brighouse, United...
Level Contributor
77 posts
8 reviews
Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

Hi to you all and Happy New Year from rainy old England.

My wife and I are planning a trip from San Francisco to Vegas via Yosemite at the end of April/early May. I figured that because Tioga Pass will almost certianly still be closed I could include Kings Canyon/Sequoia/Death Valley on our journey rather than taking the (I assume) relatively boring route of Fresno/Bakersfield/I15.

But I would love some advice on timings.

I've done Yosemite before (one of the greatest experiences of my life, toasting marshmallows over an open fire while watching the night sky/Milky Way). Anyway, back on subject!

My wife hasn't seen Yosemite before and I'd love her to see it. Planning to leave Cisco for Yosemite on morning of April 30, explore in afternoon and staying in park overnight.

Next day plan leisurely drive out of park, down to Fresno and east to Kings Canyon/Sequoia.

Is Kings Canyon scenic byway likely to be open and how long would this road, to the end and back, take to drive?

We'll either stay in Sequoia park over night or head out of Ash Mountain entrance and go a bit further south, depending on how many miles weve done that day.

Next day head into Death Valley NP and then down to Vegas.

Would this stretch be a long drive?

I know this sounds like quite a lot of ground to cover in three days, but we are used to driving long distances, we're not the types who go hiking (quite happy to see sights from the car, with occasional pull overs to see views).

Does this schedule sound realistic? I don't want to overstretch ourselves distance-wise one day, or leave slack when we could have gone further. Just want to get the timings right.

With the above timings how many hours on the road are they likely to be each day? When you see these things on a map they look so close together but I realise they're often hundreds of miles apart.

Also, I read that snow can fall at the higher elevations any time of year. Does that mean I should carry snow chains/blankets/warm clothing just in case or will I be okay in early May?

I know some of you may suggest detours to see this sight or that sight but we really want to get to Vegas in three days if we can. If it's realistic without stretching ourselves...

All suggestions greatfully received.

Look forward to seeing your fabulous state again soon (hopefully we'll be moving to California in not too many years!)


San Diego...
Level Contributor
2,225 posts
38 reviews
1. Re: Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

Even though I like Sequoia, I would recommend that you stop at the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite (on the way to Fresno) to see the giant Sequoia trees and skip Sequoia & Kings Canyon. Reason: Sequoia is really great for looking at the trees and Kings Canyon is great for hiking, but you can do both of those things in Yosemite.

I don't think it's likely you would need chains, but in the unlikely event you do, they are available in any of the central valley towns such as Merced, Fresno, etc.

No. California
Level Contributor
448 posts
17 reviews
2. Re: Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

Hmm I disagree with the earlier posting. First I'm not sure that the Mariposa Grove can be seen when at the end of April May. It is off of 120 and the highway may not be open. Second, Sequoia/Kings Canyon are fantastic places. There is something about driving for long stretches amoungst the largest trees. If you have to cut out Kings Canyon to do this then that is what I'd trim. All that being said your time is very brief and a 3 day trip may be a tight itinerary. Your comment about not stretching yourself is unrealistic given the distance you are driving. In the mountains you won't be able to travel above 40-45 mph. If a late storm blows through you will be delayed or may have to have a back up plan in place.

Yes I would carry chains , blankets, extra food and clothing even in early May. You can always check the forecast before you leave and there are phone numbers travelers can call for current road conditions. It is too early to know if it will be short dry winter or a long wet one like last year.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
2,225 posts
38 reviews
3. Re: Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

Above poster brings up some interesting points. First, we both agree that you should skip Kings Canyon.....It's a nice place, but I really think it's mostly for hikers. Regarding whether Mariposa Grove is open, here is the NPS official statement: "Mariposa Grove Road is closed from November or December until sometime in April, depending on conditions. When the road is closed, visitors may still walk, ski, or snowshoe on the road (though it may be covered in snow or ice)." Yes, Sequoia is the best place to see Sequoia trees, so it depends upon how interested you are in these great trees and if the Mariposa Grove Road is open as it generally would be by May, if not earlier.

I agree that blankets and warm clothing is just common sense (and you have them already). You can decide on the purchase of chains before you head up to the mountains based on weather reports. Current highway conditions can be found here: www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo & telephone: 800.427.7623 or 916.445.7623

Finally, see the NPS websites for Yosemite & Sequoia which you can find here: www.nps.gov

Saint Germain...
Level Contributor
2,513 posts
95 reviews
4. Re: Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

Good morning Jono,

As a point of reference, from Yosemite Valley to Las Vegas driving the western side of the Sierras through Bakersfield and then east, you are looking at 9.5 hours +/- 30 minutes.

So, if you like driving and siteseeing, you should be able to get to all the areas you want to drive through in your three days.

Have a great holiday!

5. Re: Kings Canyon/Sequoia in May... too much of a stretch?

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