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Though a winter heavy with snow means lots of blooming wildflowers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California, it also means there aren’t a lot of campsites to pitch your tent in yet and rivers are running full, cold, and dangerous, according to National Parks Traveler. 

According to park staff, wildflowers are blooming and temperatures are rising in the Foothills area of Sequoia National Park, but as you drive up into the Giant Forest and Grant Grove you can expect to see snow and feel the temperatures drop. If you had plans to camp, you’ll also notice that campgrounds like Lodgepole or Azalea, both of which would typically be open this time of year, are currently closed due to hazard trees and late season snow.

Campgrounds in all areas of the parks are affected by hazard trees, which are defined as trees that have a structural defect that makes them likely to fail in whole or in part, posing a threat to anyone in the vicinity. Years of drought have generated more than 5,600 dead trees near campsites, roads, and buildings. Out of nearly 1,200 campsites in the parks, only about 300 are expected to be open by Memorial Day weekend. In an effort to get campgrounds opened as quickly as possible, tree crews will be leaving the wood behind to gather or burn at a later time. Visitors are welcome to use this wood for campfires, unless fire restrictions are in place.

The only open campgrounds in the parks are Potwisha, Buckeye Flat, and South Fork in the Sequoia foothills. All other campgrounds are closed at this time. A new park webpage has been developed to help with trip planning that reflects the most current information on new estimated open dates. Check here regularly for ongoing campground updates: www.nps.gov/seki/campground-opening-schedule.htm

Most campgrounds require advance reservations through www.Recreation.gov.

Visitors with campground reservations will be notified of any possible cancellations at least two weeks in advance. Be advised that campsites are limited and will fill up quickly. The only place to check whether walk-up sites are still available is the Campground Information Boards located near the entrance of each campground. There you will find a list of any available sites along with registration procedures. For additional camping and lodging options near our parks, visit www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/eatingsleeping.htm.