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  • Writer's pictureDaniel and Jinny

Sequoia National Park - Lodgepole Campground

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

When you get close enough, you’ll notice them right away. Tall, wide, majestic, the giant sequoia trees will not disappoint – even the kids will be impressed!


We “ooh-ed and ah-ed” all the way to our campgrounds. We actually took this trip last summer; we had reservations to go again this summer, but they were cancelled due to COVID-19. The park is now re-open, however, unfortunately we missed the window to re-book (more reservation tips below).


If you can imagine the most picturesque mountain scene in a movie, a wide clear sky, towering sequoia trees with aged red bark, fragrant green pine trees nestled between white-washed boulders, rugged mountainsides with springy little mammalian critters, and a clean rushing river to boot, you have arrived at Lodgepole. Take a deep breath, you’ve arrived at nature’s finest! You can’t help but gain some perspective as a tiny human among the immense gigantic trees and raw natural beauty of Mother Earth. You will hopefully feel your shoulders come down away from your ears as you relish some quiet peace, rest, and relaxation.


First tip is to arrive as early as possible. The main entrance into Sequoia National Park can get backed up later in the day and I’m sure the last thing you’ll want after hours of driving is to listen to the kids complain about the long line! Also note that there is no internet access once you enter the park, in fact, you will likely lose reception prior to the entry point. There are, however, plenty of signs to direct you to your specific campgrounds so you should be just fine, you can also ask the attendant for a map (if they have not provided one already). The drive took us about 5.5 hours (it would’ve taken 4.5 without any traffic or stops). Do allow yourself extra time; driving with our two boys (ages 6 and 8 at the time), we required two pit stops on the way, which included one meal. However, don’t stress if you are not “on schedule,” better to arrive safe and sound, even if you are late!


“First tip is to arrive as early as possible. The main entrance into Sequoia National Park can get backed up later in the day and I’m sure the last thing you’ll want after hours of driving is to listen to the kids complain about the long line.”
For a breakdown of pros, cons, and tips, see below!

Lodgepole is one of the furthest campgrounds into the park, so if you get motion sickness, this is probably not the ideal campsite for you (although worth the drive, in my humble opinion) – there is quite a bit of driving on the winding mountain road. Our children don’t typically get motion sickness, but one was feeling a bit nauseated. Next time we will be sure to seat him in the middle, with a clear view of the front, and open the widows on our drive in (and probably have him chew a stick of gum)!


In terms of campsites, Lodgepole sites are a bit closer together than other campgrounds. Not uncomfortably close, but close enough where you can greet your neighbor as you pass to and fro. Try to reserve a site near the river for direct and easy access, you will also get to enjoy the soothing sounds of rushing water if you’re into that sort of thing. 😉 When reserving, review the map on the website to know which site(s) you're interested in ahead of time. You can reserve a site at Lodgepole here. Booking can be done up to six months in advance, and sites go quickly, so you should definitely log on six months prior to the time you'd like to camp (although you occasionally may get lucky with a last-minute reservation if there are cancellations). The website opens at 8am and the early bird definitely gets the worm in this case.


The Kaweah River, which runs through Lodgepole, is clean, beautiful, and COLD! Some people bring floaties but we did short swims in the various swimming holes located throughout the river. If you walk alongside it, you will see some breathtaking spots to take a quick dip, take a photograph, or just relax and enjoy a beer or two. Please note that the current could be very strong, especially during the spring/early summer, so do be cautious, especially with little ones.


There is a lot of wildlife in Sequoia, we saw deer and had a close encounter with a bear (more on that below), which brings us to our next point! Even if you do find all the food storage rules inconvenient, please make sure you follow EVERY SINGLE ONE! Do not keep any food, toiletries, etc., in the car or tent and use the bear box for all recommended items. On our last night, we heard a loud bang and awoke the next morning to discover broken glass and a flipped over recycling bin. Apparently, the scent of some lingering dinner and perhaps leftover sodas thrown away in the bin had a curious bear digging for the source! I’m not talking about a normal trashcan-sized recycle bin you see on a college campus, I’m talking about a big, metal, heavy commercial-sized recycling bin! Our friend also swore that he heard the bear’s footsteps and felt its hot breathe on him through the thin tent wall – we’re not 100% sure about that one, but the recycling bin was definitely turned over! Scary to think what could’ve happened had we not properly stored our food.


One very convenient thing about Lodgepole is that there is a market available for food and supplies. So if you forgot something, or if you just plain don’t feel like cooking (no judgment), it’s there for you! They even have ice cream. 😊 Behind the market is also where the coin-op showers and laundromat are located. The bathrooms are similar to any other campsite – they have flushing toilets and a couple sinks inside, the dishwashing sink is located outside. They are in decent shape and cleaned at least once a day.


Lodgepole is very close to General Sherman, the largest tree in the world, there are shuttles available from the campgrounds. Our kids were confused when they saw trees taller than General Sherman, so do note it is largest by volume, not height! The kids were entertained with the fuzzy caterpillar looking bugs and deer sightings; they also just plain love taking shuttles so that’s always a plus.


Unfortunately, we didn’t do Tokopah Falls as our boys weren’t keen on walking that far, but hopefully we can hike up on our next visit! We spent the majority of our time exploring the river, fishing, and cooking. The current makes the river a bit tricky to fish on (we didn’t have a single bite), but our older son still enjoyed the experience of it and talks fondly about going back to Sequoia to fish. There are also several hiking and biking trails available. In the event you’re thinking about bringing your dogs, please note dogs are not allowed on the trails.


In the evening, we lit our campfire, which is by far my favorite part. Don’t forget the s’mores and to look up into the starry night sky. I keep saying I’m going to learn how to play the ukulele so we can sing around the campfire, but yeah, no…that has yet to happen. LOL. Maybe next time! The breakdown of pros, cons, and tips are below, we hope you enjoyed our post!


Peace and Love,

Daniel & Jinny





Pros:

1. The beautiful Kaweah River runs through the campgrounds (swim holes, fishing, scenic hiking)

2. Lodgepole market is available for food and supplies

3. Tons of sequoia trees

4. Lots of wildlife

5. Coin-op showers and laundromat at the Lodgepole market

6. Close to General Sherman (with shuttle service)

7. Hiking and bike trails (no dogs)

8. Scenic drive to the campsite


Cons (although a couple are “neutral”):

1. One of the furthest campsites from the park’s main entrance

2. Must follow ALL food storage rules, even if inconvenient

3. Bathrooms are like any other campsite

4. Campsites are a little closer together compared to other campgrounds


Tips:

1. Get to the main entry gate early to avoid traffic

2. Allow yourself extra time to get to the campsite (more pit stops with kids in tow)

3. Not advisable to bring dogs as they’re not allowed on trails

4. Reserve in advance, you can book 6 months ahead

Reserving sites next to the river allows for direct and easy access




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