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Hiking During COVID-19

Hiking during COVID-19 is a great way to be physically active, relieve stress, and get some fresh air and vitamin D. And — good news! — Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reopened June 4 for day trips and hiking.

Fresno’s shelter-in-place order was lifted on May 26. Many businesses have re-opened, although with operational changes and safety measures in place for public health.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, while re-opened, also have changes that visitors should be aware of. Please visit their website for the most current updates before you head down the road.

CDC Recommendations for Hiking During COVID-19

Your health and safety — and the health and safety of others — is still top priority. So be sure to follow these CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others if you’re hiking during COVID-19:

  • Don’t visit parks or hiking trails if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others while hiking during COVID-19.
  • Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol with you since facilities to wash your hands may still be closed.
  • Bring water with you since public drinking fountains may be shut off.
  • Plan ahead. Some parks and/or facilities within the parks might be closed.

What You Can Expect to Be Open Now in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

  • Entrance stations, where you can pick up a park newspaper and map.
  • Roads and parking lots throughout both parks, including in the Cedar Grove and Mineral King areas. Visitors should park only in designated parking spaces. The park newspaper lists additional parking options if a parking lot is full.
  • Hiking Trails, both in developed areas and designated wilderness. Visitors are expected to follow CDC guidelines for safe social distancing, so if a trail is congested, you should consider going to another location where there are fewer people.
  • Restrooms and picnic areas. Like on the trails, visitors are expected to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and frequent hand washing.

What You Will Find Closed Until Later Phases in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

  • Visitor centers, bookstores, ranger stations and wilderness permit stations remain closed at this time.
  • Restaurants, markets, and gift shops are closed.
  • Guided horseback rides at Cedar Grove and Grant Grove operated by Cedar Grove Pack Station are not being offered at this time.
  • The Sequoia Shuttle is not running.
  • Crystal Cave is not open for tours.
  • The 2020 Dark Sky Festival has been cancelled.

Plan Ahead if You Are Hiking During COVID-19 in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

With visitor centers, markets, and gift shops still closed, you’ll need to plan ahead for your trip to hike in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The National Park Service recommends having a trail map with you, whether you’re hiking long or short trails, unpaved or paved. You want to be prepared for potential unexpected detours where it can be easy to get lost.

You’ll find area information and maps posted outside the visitor centers. While you can snap a picture, you can’t take these maps with you in the park. And since they’re closed, you can’t buy a map in the visitor centers.

The better option is to buy trail maps through the Sequoia Parks Conservancy’s online store.  Another option is visiting the Sequoia & Kings Canyon Park Atlas online to create and print custom maps before you go. Remember that cell phone service is limited in the park, so it’s better to have a hard copy of a map with you.

There’s also a free mobile app available. Search for NPS Sequoia & Kings Canyon in the Apple App and Google Play stores. You can use the app for maps, self-guided tours, and other information about park features and locations.

Because of the limited cell phone service in the park, you should download the app and/or maps before you leave home so you can use them when you don’t have cell phone service.

About michele

Michele was born and raised in Fresno, and she has an English degree from Fresno State. She and her husband (also a Fresno native) currently live in Fresno with their three dogs and a cranky 30-year-old cockatiel. She loves gardening, quilting, and wine tasting.