3 Days in Sequoia National Park | Labor Day Weekend Guide

Sequoia is called a hiker’s park and rightfully so as it’s covered with trails! The thing that I loved most about this natural beauty is the fact that there is a trail for everyone. There were tons of people here with their families of all ages hiking these trails. Note that Sequoia National Park is MASSIVE! Took us almost two hours to drive out of it (with a little help from the Labor Day Weekend traffic.) Nonetheless, if you like biking, hiking, sitting in waterfalls, and being on a boat – you’ll thoroughly enjoy a weekend in Sequoia National Park.

A few things to note before planning your trip:

  • The weather app data can be misleading. Entire weekend it said it would be in the 60s and 70s but in reality, it was in the 90s! The temperature also varies in different parts of the park. Its cooler in the park than it is outside at Three Rivers.
  • The food in this part of the country is sub-par. Don’t have expectations and you won’t be disappointed.
  • Bring bathing suits! There are plenty of waterfalls and creeks you can dowse yourself into. The water is clear and tempting.
  • There are bears and other wildlife in the park. If you plan on bringing food to the park – ensure that all your food is stored away and sealed properly in bins and that you throw away your items in the responsible sealed trash cans noted at the park.
  • Cell phone signal is sparce in the park, around the park, and in Three Rivers, CA. Don’t expect quality wifi at your lodge either. Would recommend either having a GPS device or renting a car that has a built in GPS.

How to get to Sequoia National Park:

Weather you are coming from the Bay or LA, getting to Sequoia is best done by car. You will need one to get in and around the park unless you plan on doing group tours the entire time. The nearest airports to Sequoia are Fresno Yosemite International Airport and Visalia Municipal Airport – although chances of finding an affordable flight are slim. It’s best to road trip to Sequoia!

Cost to enter Sequoia National Park:

All National Parks require a fee upon entering. Entrance for a commercial vehicle is $35 and that pass will last up to seven days. If you are planning to visit other National Parks in the same year, consider purchasing the ‘America The Beautiful’ pass for $80 that’s good for up to one year and will grant you access to all national parks. For more on passes and to purchase your’s in advance, check out this site here.

80% of these fees help support projects related to the park.

Where to stay near Sequoia National Park?

As we were coming from Los Angeles, it made the most sense for us to stay in Three Rivers, California. We found a simple Airbnb with an incredible stream of water in the backyard. The backyard is what made this place special. We spent the afternoons rock climbing and sitting in the natural pools. You can rent this same Airbnb here

As mentioned before, we found the food in Three Rivers to be mediocre. If you’re crowd that likes to eat, I recommend you reserve a lodge that has a grill! With the combination of having the river flow through the backyard and a grill, Labor Day couldn’t get more granola (and I mean that in a good way here).

Without futher ado – here is the weekend breakdown:

Day 0 – Friday: The Drive

The drive from Los Angeles ended up taking roughly 4 hours plus some pit stops. We were able to avoid traffic by leaving late into the evening around 9:30pm.

Pro- tip: Grab food for the Airbnb along the way.

Day 1 – Saturday: Boating on Lake Kaweah

You can rent a patio boat on Lake Kaweah for 8 hours for $145. The cheapest I have ever seen for any kind of boat rental. Granted, I’ve also never been on a patio boat but it ended up being the perfect type of boat for a trip like this. Bonus that it was mostly shaded since the day on the lake became quite warm. Make sure to reserve your boat in advance!

11:00am: Call ahead at local restaurant to pick up lunch for the boat. You can find a couple of places in Three Rivers that make sandwiches and salads to go.

11:30am: Pick up lunch on your way to the boat

12:00pm – 5:00pm: Enjoy your time on the lake! There is a sandbar out in the middle of Lake Kaweah. Ask your boating company how to get out there.

  • Bring a cooler with all your essentials
  • Pack lots of water
  • Sunscreen – don’t forget it

Pro tip #1: Bring water shoes if you’re planning to get in the lake. There are tiny prickly little lake creatures that will sting a bit if you step on them!

5:00pm: Grab dinner at Casa Mendoza Mexican Restaurant

7:00pm: Catch a sunset out on the river behind your Airbnb.

Day 2 – Sunday: Sequoia National Park

Makes sure to get an EARLY start when heading to the park! The oncoming traffic in the afternoon during Labor Day weekend was insane. And parking is challenging! We left the Airbnb at 7:30am.

These three activities will take up the majority of your time at the park. Pack some snacks and a picnic!

  1. Visit the General Sherman Tree – by volume, this is the largest known living single-stem tree on Earth!
  2. Hike High Sierra Trail – take your time on this hike, stop and enjoy the clear river water along the way. Have a light lunch here
  3. Crystal Caves – make sure to book tickets in advance!

Parking in Sequoia National Park is a beast during peak time like Labor Day Weekend. Can not stress the importance of leaving for the park early! It took us a while to get out of the park when we wrapped up, and as we were leaving, the oncoming traffic looked miserable! It took us over an hour to get out of the park.

Once we left the park, we decided to stop by at Three Rivers Brewing Co. I’m not much of a beer drinker – but they were making micheladas and I can’t say no to that! They also have a couple of quick bites to eat here.

The local supermarket is down the street from Three Rivers Brewing Co. so it only made sense we headed there next to grab the necessities for a solid BBQ!

The afternoon consisted of BBQing, chillen in the river, playing games on the patio, and baking cookies.

Day 3 – Monday: Mountain Biking Sequoia

Yep – I definitely didn’t mountain bike. BUT as some of my more adventurous friends decided to do this, they picked a great trail that I could hike while they biked. Skyline in Three Rivers Mountain Bike Trail, Hike Trail.

Leave early morning to hike/bike the Skyline Trail in Three Rivers.

It will get HOT on the trail. Make sure to dress appropriately.

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