Our Rating: Five Stars
At Sequoia High Sierra Camp, you can enjoy all the pleasure of camping in the wilderness with none of the inconvenience. We seldom give any property a five-star rating, but the Sequoia High Sierra Camp earns our highest praise in every aspect. Not only are the accommodations comfortable, the views stellar and the cuisine yummy, but it's an excellent value for your money as well.
- Beautiful location in the mountains
- Location close to a trailhead makes it very easy to get to
- Comfortable beds
- Good food
- Friendly, helpful hosts
- During wet weather, the trail into camp can get quite muddy. Be sure you wear good hiking boots
- Because of the remote location, guest provisions are ordered and transported in advance. Your credit card will be charged in full when you reserve. Cancellations and changes must be made at least 30 days before the scheduled arrival date, or you will forfeit your payment. If you're unsure about whether you'll be able to go, we suggest buying travel insurance.
- 30 tent cabins in a forested area 8,282 feet above sea level
- Satellite telephone and internet access in case of emergency only
- All meals included in the daily rate
- Open seasonally, mid-June to early October (varies by year)
- Check their rates. You will also have to pay an entrance fee to get into the national park.
It's not every day you see a "Registration" sign in the middle of the woods, is it? You can get to the Sequoia High Sierra Camp in two ways:
- The easy way: Drive to the Marvin Pass trailhead parking lot and hike a well-marked one-mile trail with a 300-foot elevation gain. Hardy hikers will be at the camp in no time but remember the high elevation. At the other end of the spectrum, it took this chubby, flatlander travel writer about 45 minutes, with a lot of rest stops.
- The long way: Start at Lodgepole Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park and take a 12-mile hike (1,500-foot elevation gain) along with a park system trail. This option takes at least 9 hours, so be sure to start early.
While the camp's owners say they've never seen a bear in their area, it never hurts to take precautions. If you hike in the long way, you'll have to go back the same way. There's no shuttle service between the trailheads.
Things to Do
Most people come to the Sequoia High Sierra Camp for hiking, and its location couldn't be better. Within a day's hike are Mitchell Peak, Rowell Meadow, Seville Lake, and several other destinations. When we visited, a shuttle hike to Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon was being added, and all downhill hike with a van waiting to take you back to camp (small extra fee required).
This city girl didn't like the insects she encountered in the woods and so chose to stay close to camp and rest, venturing only a little way down the trail to photograph the wildflowers blooming in the meadow.
The High Sierra Camp is also a perfect place to unwind. With no electricity in the tent cabins, no television, telephone, computer or other modern distractions, all that's left to do is relax and read a book or take a nap (an option we took full advantage of). Photographers and bird watchers can also find plenty to do in this peaceful spot.
Sleeping and Meals
Tent Bungalows are a spacious 330 square feet. They're built on a cement platform, with canvas sides and roof and rustic wooden shutters. The color scheme comes from the surrounding forest: greens and earthy colors, with rich-toned wool rugs on the floor. Each room has chairs and tables, and plenty of places to hang your gear.
Beds (twin or king) are decked out with down feather pillows, plush-topped mattresses, high thread-count sheets and comforter, topped with a cozy Pendleton blanket. A propane lantern enables a good bedtime read.
Cabins are ideal for two guests but can accommodate up to a total of four guests. They're spread far enough apart to allow for privacy.
The Sequoia High Sierra Camp is one place you can camp without sacrificing comforts. Each day starts with a breakfast buffet of fresh fruits, cereals, pastries and hot choices including vegetable frittatas, bacon, eggs, and potatoes.
For lunch, you can make your own picnic from imported meats and cheeses, high protein snacks and take-along beverages.
Dinner is served in the pavilion, eight guests per table, and as good as the food is, Mother Nature often interrupts the meal with a sunset show. The menu is impressive considering how hard it must be to get ingredients into the camp. During our stay, the five-course dinner included a green-lipped New Zealand mussel amuse bouche, a Caprese-style salad of fresh mozzarella and farmers market tomatoes, soup and braised lamb shanks, with berry shortcake for dessert. Sunday nights, a family-style Italian dinner is served and once a week, the owners fly in hickory-smoked barbecue from Corky's BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee, their hometown.
Imported Italian wines and several kinds of beer are available for a nominal charge.
Vegetarian/vegan options are available for all meals, and the chef can honor most dietary restrictions. Don't depend on a note appended to your online reservation to make your needs known. Call and register your preferences in advance.
The main bathhouse is spotlessly clean, with hot and cold running water in the men's and women's toilet areas (with real, flushing commodes). Towels, lotions, soap, shampoos and even a hairdryer are supplied, and an electrical outlet can help in case the electric shaver's battery goes dead.
Private shower stalls protect your modesty but are open at the top and bottom, which can cause a draft.
Tips for a Great Visit
Your hosts will supply you with a list of things to bring and lots of useful hints. Read their list and pay attention. They know what they're talking about. We have a few more tips to help you enjoy yourself:
- Bring insect repellent. You are camping in the mountains, and the critters abound. You'll find it in the pavilion, but that doesn't do much good for the mosquito buzzing your ear at 10:00 at night.
- Electricity is available only in the pavilion and bath house. Leave all your electronic gadgets at home. Your cellphone won't work, either.
- You have to HIKE a mile to get to the camp, on a dirt trail that has a steep uphill section. If you try to bring a suitcase or a wheeled bag, you'll regret it. Instead, use a backpack or fanny pack.
- If your kids haven't hiked and camped with you before, this may not be the best place to bring them. It's a long hike back to the car with an inconsolable child, and you can't get a refund if you leave early.
The Sequoia High Sierra Camp is located on private property in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It's approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. From Fresno, take Hwy 180 east. You'll travel about 30 miles on main roads and another 10 miles on side roads (part unpaved) to reach the Marvin Pass Trailhead.
If you're flying in from out of state, the closest airport is in Fresno.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer received complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.