Where to Find the Best Camping in Kings Canyon National Park [All Campgrounds Ranked]

camping in kings canyon national park

Our ranked guide to the best camping in Kings Canyon National Park in order from our favorite to our least favorite.

Kings Canyon National Park, along with its sister park, Sequoia National Park, offers some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the country. 

The High Sierra landscape is famous for towering giant sequoias but also boasts some of the most beautiful mountain scenery this side of Canada. 

If you’re like me, trip planning is a mixture of excitement and anxiety. 

I want to find the best places to stay, but I also don’t want to spend a whole day figuring it out (who has time for that??). 

On top of that, Kings Canyon National Park is a *very* popular camping destination, so finding the best campsite can be a little competitive. 

Never fear. I’ve done all of the trip-planning legwork for you to help you find the best Kings Canyon camping spots quickly and easily. 

Not only have I ranked each of the campgrounds in Kings Canyon, but I’ve also provided links to the reservation site and given you a packing list based on my years of experience living and playing in the Sierra Nevada. 

Think of this as your go-to guide for the best camping in Kings Canyon National Park.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

Table of Contents

A Quick Glance at Kings Canyon National Park Campgrounds

Campground Location Sites Toilets Group RV
Azalea Grant Grove 110 Flush No Yes, no hookups
Crystal Springs Grant Grove 50 Flush Yes Yes, no hookups
Sheep Creek Cedar Grove 111 Flush No Yes, no hookups
Sentinel Cedar Grove 82 Flush No Yes, no hookups
Moraine Cedar Grove 121 Flush No Yes, no hookups
Sunset Grant Grove 158 Pit Yes Yes, no hookups
Canyon View Cedar Grove 16 Flush Yes No

Kings Canyon Camping Map

America the Beautiful Pass

If you’re planning to visit more than 2-3 big national parks in a year, you should consider getting the America the Beautiful Pass

This pass is sold at REI, costs $80, and will get you into all of the National Park Service sites.

You can also buy the America the Beautiful Pass at any park entrance station that collects fees or online here. The National Park Service sells discounted passes for seniors and veterans.


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Making Camping Reservations for Kings Canyon National Park

Making camping reservations for Kings Canyon National Park

All seven Kings Canyon campgrounds need reservations, and they open for booking one month in advance on a rolling basis. 

In other words, if you want to camp on June 20th, you can make a reservation any time starting May 20th.

You can make Kings Canyon camping reservations on recreation.gov. To reserve a campground on recreation.gov:

  1. Make a profile on recreation.gov. This only takes a few minutes. 
  2. Type in the name of the campground or park you’re looking for. 
  3. Search the available sites, hit the “Add to Cart” button, and proceed to checkout.

I highly recommend booking your campsite at 7 am Pacific Time one month before your trip to ensure the best availability. 

Kings Canyon camping fees are $22 for a single site and $40-60 for a group site. 

Note: When searching for Kings Canyon campgrounds, they’ll appear as “Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park” because these two national parks operate jointly.

Want to learn about our favorite Sequoia National Park campgrounds? Read our guide to Sequoia National Park Camping.

Do I Need a Reservation to Visit Kings Canyon National Park?

To visit the park, you don’t need a reservation, but you will need to pay the $35.00/vehicle fee or purchase the America the Beautiful Pass, which is $80 for the year and gets you into all the national parks.

Regardless of your choice, I recommend buying your pass online ahead of time to save time at the entrance station.

Places to Camp in Kings Canyon National Park

There are two distinct areas of Kings Canyon National Park.

Grant Grove

Grant Grove

Grant Grove Village is the park’s main hub on the westernmost side, just past the Big Stump Entrance on Highway 180. 

Open all year round, Grant Grove Village features three campgrounds: 

  • Azalea Campground
  • Sunset Campground
  • Crystal Springs Campground.

If you want amenities, Grant Grove Village is an excellent place to camp. 

The Visitor Center and Grant Grove Market are here, plus there’s a post office, the Grant Grove Restaurant, and rental gear for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

Grant Grove Village is near the famous General Grant Tree, Hume Lake (just outside of Kings Canyon), and is more accessible to Sequoia National Park than the Cedar Grove area.

Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove

Only open seasonally, Cedar Grove Village and the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway jut in a spear shape eastward into the park. 

Caltrans operates this highway, and they typically open it the last Friday of April through mid-November. 

There are four campgrounds in this area:  

  • Canyon View Campground
  • Sentinel Campground
  • Sheep Creek Campground
  • Moraine Campground

The four campgrounds in Cedar Grove are very similar except for Canyon View, which is a group-only campground.

Cedar Grove is also where you can find many popular Kings Canyon hikes. These include Zumwalt Meadow, Roaring River Falls, and the Mist Falls Trail. Plus, there’s a small market in the area.

Best Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

Azalea Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the only Kings Canyon campground open year-round.
Location: Grant Grove
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 110 (only 21 open in winter; site 30 is ADA accessible)
Cost: $22.00
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, camp store, food storage lockers, picnic tables, and drinking water but no RV hookups or showers.
Campground map

Located in Grant Grove Village, Azalea Campground is the only campground open year-round in Kings Canyon National Park. 

Azalea Campground is close to the famous General Grant Tree Trail and the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. 

With an elevation of 6,700 ft, Azalea Campground offers well-spaced sites amongst densely packed pine trees.

The park website says Azalea Campground gets cell service, but I wouldn’t count on it since Kings Canyon is famous for having no cell service.

Crystal Springs Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It provides excellent access to the Grant Grove area.
Location: Grant Grove
Open: Late May-Early September (subject to change)
Number of sites: 50 (14 group sites)
Cost: $22; $40 for group sites
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, camp store, picnic tables, and drinking water but no RV hookups or showers.
Campground map

Crystal Springs Campground is in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon. It’s similar to the other Grant Grove Village campgrounds in elevation, but Crystal Springs Campground is smaller. 

This campground is a great launching spot to explore the Grant Grove area and see the General Grant Tree. The sites tend to be a bit more shaded here than the Azalea Campground. 

Crystal Springs Campground is near the visitors center, giant sequoia trees, and the market. 

It also has an amphitheater where rangers give programs, plus amenities like flush toilets and drinking water.

Sheep Creek Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: Sheep Creek Campground is close to Cedar Grove Village and popular trails, including the Lewis Creek Trail.
Location: Cedar Grove
Open: Late May-Mid September (subject to change)
Number of sites: 111
Cost: $22
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, camp store, picnic tables, food storage locker, and drinking water but no RV hookups. Showers are available at Cedar Grove Village.
Campground map

Sheep Creek Campground is the first campground as you enter the Cedar Grove area on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. 

This large campground is very popular and often has fewer available sites than the others. 

Sheep Creek Campground is just a quarter mile from Cedar Grove Village, and, like the other nearby campgrounds, it’s adjacent to the South Fork of the Kings River.

Sentinel Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It has beautiful canyon views and a longer operating season than other campgrounds.
Location: Cedar Grove
Open: Early May-Mid November
Number of sites: 82
Cost: $22
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic tables, and drinking water but no RV hookups.
Campground map

A trail from Sheep Creek Campground connects it to the nearby Sentinel Campground. You can think of them as one campground in terms of park access. 

The one significant upside of Sentinel Campground is its extended operating season compared to the other campgrounds in Kings Canyon. 

You can snag sites at Sentinel Campground in early May through mid-November, while most campgrounds in Kings Canyon close in early September.

Moraine Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the farthest from the Cedar Grove Visitor Center and thus a more quiet campground.
Location: Cedar Grove
Open: Late May-Early September (with June closure in 2022)
Number of sites: 121
Cost: $22
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic tables, food storage locker, camp store, and drinking water but no RV hookups.
Campground map

Moraine Campground offers some of the best camping in Kings Canyon for quiet reflection. 

As it’s a little further out, Moraine is a slightly more peaceful camping experience than the other campgrounds in the area.

Its location on the easternmost end of the campground complex gets you just a scootch closer to the popular hikes near Road’s End.

Like all the facilities in this area, the campground is right on the banks of the Kings River. 

While forest surrounds it, Moraine Campground has less tree cover than the other three Cedar Grove campgrounds. However, sparser trees provide great views of the steep canyon walls above.

There are flush toilets and drinking water available at this campground.

Sunset Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the biggest campground in Kings Canyon.
Location: Grant Grove
Open: Late May-Early September (subject to change)
Number of sites:158 (2 group sites)
Cost:$22
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: toilets, a fire pit, picnic table, camp store, food storage locker, and drinking water but no RV hookups or showers.
Campground map

Just across the road from the Azalea Campground is Sunset Campground, the next closest campground to the General Grant Tree. 

This huge campground offers 158 sites, including two group sites. 

Situated in the Grant Grove Village area, Sunset Campground is near the Kings Canyon Visitors Center, the General Grant Tree Trail, and Hume Lake (just outside of Kings Canyon). 

Like the other campgrounds in Grant Grove Village, Sunset Campground is an easy spot to launch into neighboring Sequoia National Park. 

One common theme I notice in big, popular campgrounds is a lack of privacy between sites, which is certainly the case for Sunset Campground. 

While towering trees shade the campground, there’s little in the way of vegetation between the sites.

Canyon View Group Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the only campground specifically for large (15+) groups.
Location: Cedar Grove
Open: Late May to Early September
Number of sites: 16
Cost: $40-$60 depending on group size
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic table, food storage locker, and drinking water, but RVs aren’t allowed. Showers are available at Cedar Grove Village.
Campground map

Canyon View Campground is the perfect place if you’re planning a huge group event with more than 15 people. 

This campground is just a quarter mile from Cedar Grove Village on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, near Road’s End.

It’s situated right on the canyon floor and adjacent to the South Fork of the Kings River, which is an excellent place to cool off. 

Only tents are allowed at Canyon View Campground, but there are extra food storage boxes at the entrance to the campground. 

The park warns that bears have been frequenting this campground seeking food and damaging property, so be sure to be especially careful with food storage here.

Best Backcountry Campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

Best backcountry campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park doesn’t have backcountry campgrounds, per se. However, they have hundreds of thousands of acres of backcountry wilderness camping! 

Kings Canyon has two seasons for wilderness permits. Quota season is approximately May 27th-September 18th, and non-quota season is the rest of the year. 

During quota season, dispersed camping in Kings Canyon requires a wilderness permit, which you can obtain up to six months in advance. 

You can also get a walk-up wilderness permit at one of the wilderness permit desks. 

All wilderness permits are $15 plus $5 per person in the party. You can get walk-up permits starting at 1 pm the day before your trip at the wilderness permit desk that corresponds with the trailhead you want to enter through. 

Regardless of which type of permit you get, it’s crucial to bring your whole party to the orientation given by the ranger. You can also rent the required hard-sided bear canisters for free at the wilderness desks.

Free Camping in Kings Canyon National Park

free camping in Kings Canyon National Park

There’s no free, dispersed camping a la “Forest Service Style” in Kings Canyon National Park. 

The closest thing to free camping is a backpacking wilderness permit, which is $15 plus $5 per person. Of course, you have to do backcountry camping for these.

If you’re looking for free car camping, there are free places to camp in the Forest Service areas outside the park. 

Don’t confuse the Forest Service with the National Park Service; they are two different entities. 

The Forest Service and the National Park Service are both federally-managed. However, the Department of Agriculture runs the Forest Service, while the National Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior.

Remember that while dispersed camping on Forest Service land is free, you must have a (free) campfire permit, which you can get at readyforwildfire.org. It only takes about a minute to get this permit.

Free Camping Near Kings Canyon National Park

Convict Flat Campground: The Convict Flat Campground is a small family campground with five units situated at 3,000 ft of elevation (read: low elevation and hot hot hot in the summer). 

The facilities at Convict Flat Campground include vault toilets and accommodations for small RVs. This campground is near the Cedar Grove entrance to Kings Canyon on Highway 180. 

Convict Flat Campground is one of the best campgrounds for free camping near Kings Canyon National Park. 

Cherry Gap Road: On Highway 180, you’ll see a sign for Cherry Gap/Abbott Creek just north of the Grant Grove district.

Turn left onto this road, and a few dispersed campsites are just off Cherry Gap Road. This area has many hiking trails and giant sequoias, including the Chicago Stump Trailhead. 

Kirch Flat Campground: Sierra National Forest operates Kirch Flat Campground, a free campground an hour and a half from the closest King’s Canyon National Park entrance. 

It has vault toilets and oak trees providing shade. Kirch Flat would be a good campground choice in the fall and spring. 

Mill Flat Campground: Mill Flat Campground is a five-site campground at 1,100 feet of elevation, about an hour and fifteen minutes from the nearest Kings canyon entrance in the Grant Grove area.

Read more about dispersed camping in Sequoia National Forest.

Campgrounds Near Kings Canyon: Best Camping Outside the Park

If you didn’t score a camping spot inside the park, check out these options just outside Kings Canyon National Park.

All of the campgrounds I’ve listed below are within national forests, so you can reserve them on recreation.gov.

Hume Lake District of Sequoia National Forest

Hume Lake district of Sequoia National Forest

Kings Canyon National Park has kind of a weird configuration. There’s a significant section of Sequoia National Forest (not Sequoia National Park!) sandwiched between the two districts of Kings Canyon. 

The Hume Lake area of Sequoia National Forest has several camping options, including Hume Lake Campground. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails and giant sequoias galore.

Check out this map for a helpful visual of all the national park and national forest campgrounds.

Princess Campground

Princess Campground is a popular spot on Highway 180, just outside the Grant Grove district. This 90-site facility is the closest dump station to Kings Canyon. 

The shaded campground sits among giant sequoia stumps and trees and features ranger programs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Hume Lake Campground

Hume Lake Campground

Hume Lake Campground is a heavily used, 74-site campground within walking distance of Hume Lake and all the amenities therein, including a grocery market and nearby boat rentals. 

Hume Lake Campground is a few minutes off Highway 180 near the banks of Hume Lake.

Upper Stony Creek Campground

Upper Stony Creek Campground is between Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, just off the General’s Highway. 

The campground has 23 sites, vault toilets, and drinking water. It sits at 6,400 feet and offers tremendous access to the hiking trails in the Jennie Lake Wilderness.

East Side of Kings Canyon National Park

The west side of Kings Canyon is the more popular side because there are roads that enter the park. The east side of the park doesn’t have any roads, but you can still hike into the park from here.

Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley Campground is in Inyo National Forest on the west side of Highway 395. This heavily-used, 29-site facility has vault toilets and access to the Kearsarge Pass Trailhead.

Kings Canyon Camping Tips

Kings Canyon camping tips

Cell Service is Spotty

Your phone will become a brick during your stay in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Just embrace it and plan for it. 

There’s minimal WiFi at the John Muir Lodge and the Wuksach Lodge, but you won’t be able to stream, download a podcast, or make calls. 

Cell service throughout the park is also spotty, although you *might* get a signal at the John Muir Lodge near the General Grant Tree.

I highly recommend downloading the National Park App and saving the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon information for offline use.

There are No Dump Stations

There’s plenty of RV camping in Kings Canyon National Park; you just need to plan your dump schedule when you’re out of the park. 

Princess Campground in Sequoia National Forest (located between the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove Districts) has a dump station.

Black Bears are Everywhere

black bears are everywhere

Black bears are such incredible, clever animals. Unfortunately, their intelligence can make them a nuisance in busy campgrounds. Know what to do if you see a bear in Kings Canyon. 

If you have questions, ask a staff member what to do.

Kings Canyon staff take food storage violations very seriously. You must store trash (even clean recyclables!) in the food storage lockers provided by the park. 

Also, everything from toothpaste to baby wipes, citronella candles, hairspray, pet food, chapstick, baby car seats (because they invariably have crumbs and stains), unopened soda cans, and coolers (even empty ones) could attract bears.

Additionally, always keep your car windows up and doors locked. It’s unlikely a bear will smash a window to enter a vehicle, but they will take advantage of a cracked window or unlocked door (yes, like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, they know how to open doors).

Dogs Aren’t Allowed on Trail

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon are not pet-friendly. You can have your dog leashed at your campsite or in a parking lot at all times, but that’s it. 

Pets aren’t allowed on any trails, not even in a carrier, which means if you bring your pet, you’ll have to have someone stay with it in the campground while the rest of the group has fun.

Read more about pet regulations in Kings Canyon National Park.

Avoid Fire Season

Having lived in California for a few years, I strategically plan my outdoor adventures for April-June. Every year is different, but fire season often kicks off in July and can go through October.

I’m not saying *not* to plan a camping trip during this time; just anticipate that your plans may get canceled if a fire breaks out.

Campfires are Often Restricted

During fire season, there are often restrictions on campfires in Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon National Park, and Inyo National Forest. 

Propane stoves are usually allowed, but wood and charcoal fires in a fire ring are not. Depending on the fire restriction level, you might even be banned from smoking except in an enclosed vehicle.

Read more about fire restrictions in Kings Canyon National Park.

Best Time to Camp in Kings Canyon National Park

best time to camp in kings canyon national park

Summer (June-August)

Although it’s the busiest time in the park, summer is my favorite time for a camping trip in King’s Canyon National Park because this is when everything is open. 

You can also hike farther into the backcountry during summer without hitting ice and snow.

Fall (September-October)

Fall can be a pleasant time to visit King’s Canyon National Park (provided there isn’t a fire raging). 

The main roads through the park are usually still open, but you can expect cold temperatures and possibly snow at higher elevations.

Winter (November-March)

Only the Grant Grove district of King’s Canyon National Park is open during this time. You can still hike many of the trails in this district, and Sunset Campground is open all year. 

Winter can be a lovely time to visit to avoid crowds.

If you’re planning a winter camping trip, check out our recommendations for cozy winter tents.

Spring (April-May)

On the fourth Friday of April, Caltrans opens the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, and you can get into the Cedar Grove area of the park. 

Some of the facilities, like the visitor center and the campgrounds may open later, but the lower elevation trails will at least be accessible.

FAQs About Kings Canyon Camping

FAQs about Kings Canyon camping

Is King’s Canyon National Park good for camping?

Kings Canyon National Park is known for its giant sequoia trees and its namesake, Kings Canyon itself, one of the deepest canyons in the United States! 

Campgrounds are interspersed throughout these jaw-dropping natural features, making Kings Canyon a terrific place for camping trips.

Can you camp anywhere in Kings Canyon?

You cannot camp anywhere in Kings Canyon. You must camp in an established campground, an established backcountry campsite, or an approved dispersed wilderness camping zone.

How much does it cost to camp in Kings Canyon?

Most single campsites in Kings Canyon are $22/night. Group sites range in price between $40-60, depending on the group size.

Which Kings Canyon campsite is best?

Choosing the best Kings Canyon campsite is tricky because there are so many great choices! But, if I had my pick, I would choose #87 in Moraine Campground because it’s closest to the river.

Do you need a reservation to camp in Kings Canyon?

Yes, as of 2022, all Kings Canyon Campgrounds need reservations. You can make reservations on recreation.gov.

Can I sleep in my car in Kings Canyon?

You can sleep in your car at an established campsite, but you cannot park in parking lots or pullouts to sleep.

These spots don’t have adequate food storage boxes, and sleeping in your vehicle with food inside is not safe.

Can you have a fire in Kings Canyon?

You can have a fire in Kings Canyon in an established fire ring or grill as long as there aren’t currently fire restrictions in place.

How many days do you need in Kings Canyon?

You should give yourself 2-3 days to fully experience Kings Canyon. Crowds can be hectic, especially in the summer, and it may take longer to reach your intended destination. 

Try to build in some buffer time, so you’re not rushed.

What to Pack for Camping in Kings Canyon

What to pack for camping in kings canyon
  • Insulated jacket: Whether it’s a puffy or fleece, bring a warm layer for the evenings. 
  • Sleeping bag liner: This is a cotton or silk sheet in the shape of a sleeping bag. It’s extra insulating, or you can use it on its own in warm weather.
  • Waterproof hiking boots: Kings Canyon National Park’s high country thaws slowly. Expect to find snow and ice quite late into the season. 
  • Camp stove or Jetboil: Warm drinks are so lovely on a chilly morning. Be sure to pack a way to heat your meals. 
  • Garmin or GPS device: Whether it’s a watch or a stand-alone unit, you should have some way to navigate without your phone. 
  • Bug spray: There are ticks in Kings Canyon National Park–don’t let the buggers get you!
  • Plastic storage bin for food: You will *always* keep your food in the provided food storage lockers, but I like to keep my food organized and tidy in my plastic bin. Sometimes food storage lockers can be a little gross, and I don’t want my stuff touching grossness!

What Not to Pack For Camping in Kings Canyon

Bear spray: I know it seems count-intuitive, but none of the California national parks, including Yosemite National Park, permit bear spray.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!


Looking for more California national park guides? Check out these related articles below!

Best Campgrounds in Yosemite National Park

Best Campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

Best Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Epic California National Park Road Trip

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Where to Find the Best Camping in Kings Canyon National Park [All Campgrounds Ranked]

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