Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite

Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks are two major natural attractions in the state of California. They both lie in the Sierra Nevada range.

They are both appealing options for those interested in spending some time out in nature.

Yosemite National Park consists of meadows, glaciers, waterfalls, hiking trails, camping sites, multiple plant and animal species, lakes and so much more.

Sequoia National Park features many sequoias as in the title. Along with the impressive trees, the park is also home to canyons, mountains, a vast variety of flora and fauna, and nearly 270 caves. 

In this article, we have compared Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite based on various features.


Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Covering nearly 1,200 square miles, this wondrous natural park is mapped across 4 counties.

The nearest city to Yosemite is Mariposa.

Sequoia National Park is also located in the massive Sierra Nevada mountain range. It covers 631 square miles in area and is mapped in Tulare County.

The city nearest to Sequoia National Park is Visalia.

It is easier to get to Sequoia National Park than Yosemite. Sequoia is simpler as compared to the vaster Yosemite National Park.

Most trails begin near the road that goes through the Sequoia National Park.

Yosemite on the other hand requires more planning since there is a lot more to discover. There are activities you can indulge in around the park as well.


Both parks have different features as well as some similar ones. The one thing for sure is that natural beauty at its peak is observable in both the parks.

Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite National Park based on features is perhaps not a fair contest.

Both parks differ greatly in size and the characteristics are different too. Be that as it may, here is a side-by-side description of the features of both parks.

Features of Yosemite National Park

Features of Yosemite National Park
Image: NPS.gov

Yosemite is a park that features granite land mainly. The granite formations have been shaped through erosion, weathering, glaciers, and other similar factors.

Yosemite National Park consists of a lot of serene sights such as waterfalls, meadows, glaciers, lakes, etc.

When it comes to animals, more than 250 species are found in Yosemite.

Animals in Yosemite include snakes, fish, black bears, bobcats, brown creepers, California red-legged frogs, many types of birds, and more.

Yosemite National Park also houses almost 20% of California’s plant species. The plants are spread over five types of vegetation zones in the park.

These five zones are the Foothill-Woodland Zone, Lower Montane Forest, Upper Montane Forest, Alpine Forest, and Subalpine Zone.

The park also has more than 150 rare plant species. Due to the diversity of nature found in Yosemite, various types of animals and plants can live here.

Yosemite Valley is the activity hub of Yosemite National Park. Most activities by guests are concentrated here.

There are multiple viewpoints, granite domes, and cliffs in the valley offering stunning views of the park.

Another popular feature of the park is the waterfalls. Yosemite consists of numerous waterfalls, each having something that differentiates it from the others.

Tall, amazing, interestingly shaped, and fire-like waterfalls can all be observed, especially in spring when they are in full flow.

An interesting point in the Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite conversation is that Yosemite has sequoias as well.

Sequoia trees appearing as natural skyscrapers, standing tall and straight for decades if not longer, are present in three groves at Yosemite.

The Tuolumne Grove, Mariposa Grove, and Merced Grove consist of many sequoias in total.

Features of Sequoia National Park

Features of Sequoia National Park
Image: NPS.gov

Sequoia National Park is not as big and varied as Yosemite but it has a lot of things to see and experience.

The central attraction of the park is, obviously, sequoias but it also features hiking trails, caves, canyons, and much more.

Sequoia National Park is spread over 631 square miles of land and features the highest point in mainland US.

Located near Kings Canyon National Park and administered together with it, Sequoia is home to the General Sherman Tree, the biggest tree by volume on the planet.

The tree stands in the Giant Forest inside the park. It is named that because of the massive trees and contains 5 of the 10 largest trees in the world.

The park at lower elevation consists of the only protected foothills environment in California. It is a truly beautiful collection of woodlands, grasslands, chaparral, and river valleys.

As the elevation in the park increases, you will notice the presence of California Black Oak trees. The higher elevation is a coniferous belt dominated by montane forests.

This is where the giant sequoias are found along with green meadows and other beautiful sights.

Aside from the sequoia trees, the national park also features Mount Whitley, the tallest mountain in mainland US.

Mount Whitley has a height of 4,421 m which is the highest point elevation-wise in the mainland.

The mountains and canyons in Sequoia are also mostly granitic. 

Some other major landforms are Moro Rock – a granite rock formation, Mineral King – a subalpine glacial valley and the aforementioned Giant Forest with the famous sequoias.

Another feature of Sequoia National Park that is widely known is caves. Caves are discovered frequently in the national park.

Currently, more than 270 caves are known and they are mostly dissolved from marble over time. 

Some notable caves are the Lilburn Cave – the longest cave in California (17 miles) and Crystal Cave – the only cave open to the public and only through guided tours.

Crystal Cave is the second longest cave in the park, although that is a distant second position (3.4 miles).

Animals at Sequoia in front country include bobcats, foxes, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions can also be spotted sometimes.

Some other animals seen at the park include Douglas squirrels, black bears, coyotes, woodpeckers, turtles, and opossums.

A beautiful and healthy variety of plants also grows across different elevation levels of the park. Most notable are the various pine trees such as ponderosa, Jeffery, sugar, and lodgepole.

In addition to pine trees, white and red fir are also quite notable along with tranquil meadows, waterfalls, and valleys.

At lower elevations, you can find vegetation of the Chaparral and Woodlands type and the Conifer Forest type.

As the elevation increases you will find the Abies Magnifica vegetation type the Subalpine Zone and the Alpine Tundra types at the highest elevations. 

The Yosemite National Park vs Sequoia National Park debate is difficult to call. The parks share similarities but there are many things that separate them.

As far as the features are concerned, it comes down to preference and variety. If you want sequoias to be the major point of your trip, Sequoia National Park is the answer.

If you want options other than sequoias, Yosemite has a lot more to offer.


Image: NPS.gov

Hiking can be done in both parks but again, due to the larger area that Yosemite covers, you get more options and variety there.

The hiking conditions are also a factor when making a Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite comparison based on hiking trails.

Hiking conditions depend upon the weather conditions and the crowd density.

The weather is similar at both places as they are located in the same mountain range. It is reliable for the most part but thunderstorms do happen frequently.

The crowd density is higher in Yosemite than in Sequoia which gives you a calmer environment in the latter.

However, the views from Yosemite cannot be matched. Despite higher crowd density, Yosemite offers more options in terms of hiking trails and scenery.

Some top hiking trails in Yosemite include:

  1. Half Dome (via John Muir) (very hard)
  2. Upper Yosemite Falls (hard)
  3. Columbia Rock (moderate)
  4. Lower Yosemite Falls (Easy)

Some top hiking trails in Sequoia are:

  1. Congress Trail (easy)
  2. Moro Rock (moderate)
  3. Tokopah Trail (hard)
  4. Pear Lake (via Lakes, Hump and Watchtower) Trail (very hard)


Image: NPS.gov, “Sunset.com

Yosemite National Park offers great options for accommodation but the reservations go quickly.

You can choose to be truly among nature or enjoy urban comforts in the wild, both types of accommodation facilities are available.

Accommodation or lodging in Yosemite is managed by Yosemite Hospitality. From tents, camps, and cabins to deluxe rooms and hotels, the national park has a good depth of options.

Reservations must be done early as nearly 4 million people visit the park annually which leads to cutthroat competition sometimes.

It is not all first-come first-serve, lottery systems are also in place for some establishments.

There are also dispersed or free camping areas around the park.

Delaware North Parks and Resorts handles accommodations for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The size factor comes into play for the Yosemite vs Sequoia National Park accommodation comparison.

Since Sequoia is half the size of Yosemite and gets roughly half the traffic than Yosemite, lodging options are available accordingly.

Wuksachi Lodge, Buckeye Tree Lodge and Cabins, Sequoia Lodge, and some other reasonable options are available.

The neighboring Kings Canyon National Park also offers good places to stay. If visiting both parks, the options at hand increase.

Wilderness lodging is also offered.

Note: Be aware of the fact that not all accommodations in a park might be available due to weather, accessibility, fires, or other such reasons. 
Check the park websites before making reservations to know the choices available and choose what best suits your travel plan.


While the various entry fees are the same for both parks ($35 for car, and $20 for two-wheeler/foot), overall expenses differ.

Traveling to or in California is not cheap regardless, but Yosemite will be a costlier experience as compared to Sequoia.

The staying and food factors will drive your bill higher. If the park is busy, the prices may become more expensive due to demand.

Sequoia is cheaper in both dining and staying and does not experience the same rush as Yosemite, with about 2 million average yearly visitors in comparison to Yosemite’s 4 million. 


  • Both parks are located in California in the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite has activities to do around it while Sequoia is quite close to the Kings Canyon National Park.
  • The parks have impressive natural features and pleasant views but Yosemite National Park offers more along with varied scenery.
  • Since Yosemite is bigger, the options are more abundant for wildlife spotting, waterfalls, etc. but Sequoia can be explored quicker than the former.
  • The weather is the same for both parks with Sequoia being calmer and less busy. Hiking in Yosemite is better while the giant sequoias are the main highlight at Sequoia National Park.
  • Accommodation is overall better at Yosemite with more types of places to stay, albeit expensive.

The Sequoia National Park vs Yosemite comparison yields the conclusion that Yosemite is overall the better choice.

It must be emphasized that neither of these national parks is a bad choice. Sequoia offers an incredible time with nature as well.

Yosemite’s diverse features are sure to leave you in awe and it is a unique experience the likes of which are not found at many places.

A lot also depends on time and preference when it comes to Yosemite National Park vs Sequoia. 

If you prefer the sequoias and the calmer environment, Sequoia National Park is for you. Whereas Yosemite is the place to be for hiking, splendid views, and a longer vacation. 

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