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Planning a trip to Giant Sequoias, wildflowers? Here’s when damaged park roads will open

The inclement weather in California in recent weeks has done damage to national parks roads, closing Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks until at least Tax Day.

The parks and foothills draw visitors from the San Joaquin Valley, but the Giant Sequoias and wildflower blooms also attract international tourists to what documentarian Ken Burns dubbed “America’s Best Idea.”

Access to the parks has been hindered by about a dozen road failures each on Highway 180, Highway 198 and Highway 245, according to Caltrans and parks officials.

Park Superintendent Clay Jordan said Friday the park was lucky that the damage to those roads still left at least one lane.

“You can’t make this up, I don’t think,” he said. “Exceptional drought, major fires, and we swing over to the other end of the spectrum.”

The roads damaged by rain and snowfall that closed all of the entries to the park were “almost unprecedented,” he said. The KNP Complex Fire two years ago closed access to the park.

A National Parks Service photo shows flood damage to the Generals Highway between the Ash Mountain Entrance Station and the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park on or after March 10, 2023.
A National Parks Service photo shows flood damage to the Generals Highway between the Ash Mountain Entrance Station and the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park on or after March 10, 2023.

A mid-April opening of the parks is an estimate and will likely be moved back, according to officials. There’s also another storm expected late Tuesday.

Here are the estimated opening dates:

Mineral King Road outside Sequoia needs repair, according to Tulare County Supervisor Eddie Valero. A temporary fix could be in place by May with a more permanent fix around late fall.

Photos from the Mineral King District Association show large boulders in the road and big portions of road washed away.

Cyclist Corky Conover looks at boulders on Mineral King Road on Jan. 13, 2023.
Cyclist Corky Conover looks at boulders on Mineral King Road on Jan. 13, 2023.

Kings Canyon National Park

Grant Grove: Access to Giant Sequoias, winter snowplay, camping and trails are closed. Estimated to re-open April 14.

Cedar Grove: Access to wilderness, camping, river, waterfalls and trails are closed. No estimated date for re-opening.

Sequoia National Park

The foothills: The area from the Sequoia entrance station to Hospital Rock is closed. There is no access to the Giant Sequoias. Estimated to open by April 14.

Giant Forest, Wolverton Snowplay Area, Lodgepole, Wuksachi Areas: Giant Sequoias, the General Sherman Tree, winter snowplay, camping, wilderness, Moro Rock and Tunnel Log are closed.

Access from Highway 180 will be closed until at least May 26, but could be June 16. The way in from Highway 198 is estimated for sometime in June.

Crystal Cave: Closed with no time frame for an opening.

Mineral King: Closed within the park. Its opening is contingent on the fix in Tulare County outside the park.

Retired National Parks Service employee Michael Botkin takes measurements in a sinkhole near Slapjack Creek on Feb. 2, 2023.
Retired National Parks Service employee Michael Botkin takes measurements in a sinkhole near Slapjack Creek on Feb. 2, 2023.