We have visited Sequoia National Park in November, twice so far. And both the times, it has been a really pleasant experience. Both the times, it was during the Thanksgiving weekend and it’s a great place to go if you didn’t make any other plans and just want to hit the road for an unplanned, last minute trip.
Read on to know what to expect during November in Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park in November:
- Very less crowd in already a less crowded National Park.
- No need to reserve campsites. Most sites are available for walk-up.
- Almost nobody on some of the even popular hiking trails.
- Warm during the day time
Sequoia National Park Visitor Center:
To get a full overview of the twin parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, read my earlier post. This post lists everything you need to know for planning and logistics. I will focus more on winter specific camping, clothing and hiking options here.
We opted to go Foothills Visitor Center and get a sense of how the trails are looking like. Here is how we plan all our National Park trips:
- Pick a visitor center that will be open during the month you are visiting. Foothills Visitor center is open year around.
- Make visitor center your first stop for the following reasons:
- Restroom stop
- Refill drinking water
- Campground situation. They will tell you which ones are open and available, especially during winter months.
- Watch the park movie. If you have never watched these 20 – 30 min movies, you are missing out, to say the least.
Camping in November:
As I mentioned earlier, November camping at Sequoia National Park is fairly straight forward. There is no need to book the campsites in advance. Just show up.
We stayed at Potwisha Campground. You just have to pick a site, pay cash/write credit card detail on the cover with your site number.
Next day early morning, the rangers come to check if everyone has paid. So, don’t even bother thinking that they don’t check.
Sequoia is a Bear country and you have to follow the rules strictly in terms of storing food. Here is the detailed description and how to pack your food. You might be tempted to think that its winter and bears are hibernating. I did the same mistake. But the rangers set me straight.
Campsite in November was really cold. Here is how I prepared for the cold night of camping:
- Zero degree sleeping bag
- Hot chocolate and hot meals. Check out my dehydrated Indian food blog for ideas.
- Layers of clothes
- Gloves, thick socks, warm wool hat
- Thermal underwear layer
You get the point. This is all because I generally sleep cold and in November there was a constant cold breeze that made it worse at the campsite.
Here are few other things I take with me to keep myself really warm at night.
I cook the hot meal and keep it in the thermos. This particular thermos keeps food really warm for 6-8 hours a day. These days, I don’t travel without this thermos.
If you are anything like me and can’t get enough warmth in a tent, I use this hot water bottle. I literally hug this between my shirt and jacket, not directly touching the body. This warms me up quickly.
But, it’s still a great experience to camp during winter months.
Sequoia National Park Trails and Hikes in November:
We did the following hikes during our two night stay at the park.
By the time we pitched the tent, and ready to hit the trails, it was 3:30PM. Sunset in November at Sequoia National Park is around 4:45PM. So, the day was a really short. So we chose to the following short hikes.
Moro Rock – Distance: 0.4 miles. Elevation Gain:300 ft. View:Panoramic view
Big Trees Trail – Distance: 1.2 miles. Elevation Gain: 60 ft. View: Trees and meadow. Accessible
Both of these trails are just a couple of miles away from each other. Given the short time, this was perfect to get a feel for the park.
If you are visiting the park for just one day or short on time, I highly recommend doing these two trails. These two trails are pretty much must do in the park.
After a hearty breakfast, it was time for the epic hike of the day.
Marble Falls Trail – Distance: 7.4 miles. Elevation Gain: 1600 ft. View: Water Fall and wild flowers
The hike was reasonably strenuous. I am a relatively slow hiker compared to my husband. It took us around 4.5 hours to complete the hike with a lunch stop.
- Drove to the general Sherman tree area for sunset
We could have easily spent another day hiking at Sequoia NP. But we were on a road trip and decided to head towards Joshua Tree National Park as a next stop.
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What are your other favorite National Parks in November ?