HomeOutdoorsWeatherSequoia National Park Severely Damaged By California Storms’ Fallout: PHOTO

Sequoia National Park Severely Damaged By California Storms’ Fallout: PHOTO

by Jon D. B.
Sequoia National Park road damaged by California storms
SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. January 12, 2023. (Photo credit: (NPS, SEKI media release)

As Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks continue to recover from the 2021 KNP Complex wildfires, storms are causing major erosion across their California heartlands.

“As with most of California, we are seeing precipitation that rivals all other storms experienced by long-term park employees in at least 30 years,” cites Clay Jordan, Superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “What is unique and causing more challenges this year is a landscape that is still recovering from the 2021 KNP Complex fires.”

Across the beloved parks, “We’re seeing erosion, mud flows, rock slides and severe damage to our roadways and infrastructure,” Jordan adds. “Park staff and equipment are really being pushed to the max to minimize damage and impacts to visitor access.”

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are seeing extraordinary amounts of precipitation this winter. The last storm to his California’s heartland where the national parks reside caused serious drainage failures, undermining the road at three different sections of the Generals Highway between Hospital Rock and Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Road closures are currently in effect as crews work to protect the integrity of park byways before more storms hit.

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. January 12, 2023. (Photo credit: (NPS, SEKI media release)

This has been the most jarring aspect of California’s unprecedented wave of storms. They have not stopped battering the state, and won’t for quite some time. Another wave of storms is incoming, and the parks are working night and day in an effort to minimize longer term damage.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Battle Landslides, Road Collapse, Mudflows

“We are sensitive to the effects that park closures have on our local communities and will keep everyone informed as the situation develops,” Superintendent Jordan adds.

As of Monday, Jan. 16, numerous land slides are blocking at least one lane of traffic. Damage assessment is ongoing in collaboration with Federal Highways Administration engineers. Major repairs are necessary before it will be safe to reopen Generals Highway to the public.

Once weather stabilizes next week, the park will be able to further update the public. For now, in Sequoia National Park, the Foothills area is open to Hospital Rock Picnic Area, about 5 miles in from the entrance station via from Highway 198. Unfortunately, Sequoia will keep the highway above Hospital Rock closed at least through the MLK holiday weekend. This closes access to snow and sequoias in Giant Forest, Lodgepole, Wolverton, and Wuksachi areas. 

However, the Grant Grove area remains open in Kings Canyon National Park (from Highway 180). Further inclement weather is in the forecast for this weekend, though, “and likely to make the area difficult to navigate,” the parks explain. “Crews will work to keep access to this area open for the holiday weekend, but conditions could change at any time with little or no warning.”

For more information, current conditions and closures, visit the parks’ NPS website here. And remember, “Know before you go!” to any U.S. national park. SEKI advises calling (559) 565-3341 (1,1) for current road conditions and tire chain restrictions before visiting.

Be safe out there, Outsiders!