Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are top destinations for travelers visiting California for the first time.

But camping enthusiasts up and down the San Joaquin Valley often find their own slice of paradise just outside the national park boundaries.

One case in point is Sequoia RV Ranch in Three Rivers. The park is only six miles from the entrance to Sequoia National Park, but it’s two miles off the main highway, hidden in the mountains along the North Fork of the Kaweah River, according to a news release.

“You feel like you’re so far from civilization, but you really aren’t,” said Nadine Smith, a camping enthusiast from Clovis who frequently camps there with her 12-year-old grandson and several other friends from Clovis who bring their children and grandchildren to the park.

“About a quarter of the campsites back up to the river and have river views. It’s a very lazy river that the kids can play in and you don’t worry about them. In the summertime, the kids take their rafts and wade in it and play in it. We can also take our folding chairs and watch our kids play.”

Smith also likes being able to listen to the sounds of the river at night. It’s very relaxing, she said.

Suz Anderson of Sanger recently camped at the park over Father’s Day weekend with her husband, 8-year-old grandson and friends from Fresno and Clovis. They had a barbecue on Saturday night before Father’s Day and even watched a movie, which they projected on to the side of their RV.

Sequoia RV Ranch is also dog friendly, and has a beautiful natural setting, too.

Tracy Kruse goes there about once a month with her husband and two dogs. “It’s so close to where we live, but we feel like we’re totally someplace else,” Kruse said. “All the campers there treat you like family. We like going down to the river and cooling off and relaxing. Lately, there have been deer coming through there. You can also hear the coyotes at night, which is really nice.”

Assistant park manager Lori Brooks said about 80 percent of the campground’s business is RV and camping enthusiasts from Bakersfield and Fresno, though the park also attracts a strong following from the Los Angeles area. Many of her campers come for the river, which runs year round. “We also have a swimming hole and a fishing hole,” she said, adding that the park also recently renovated its restrooms and beefed up its Wi-Fi service.

Brooks said the campground business has been stronger this year outside of Sequoia, partly because of road construction on national park roads. “There’s a 22-foot limit on vehicles between Three Rivers and Giant Forest,” Brooks said, adding the construction is forcing the owners of the larger RVers to leave their rigs outside the national park boundary when they visit the area.

For more information on Sequoia RV Ranch, please contact Lori Brooks at (559) 561-4333 and visit www.sequoiarvranch.com. For information on other privately owned and operated campgrounds in the Sierra foothills, please contact Susanne White at (530) 885-1624 and visit www.Camp-California.com.