The most popular way to get around the parks is by car. It follows that, in peak season, the roads can get swamped with traffic, hitting a zenith around 3 or 4pm in the afternoon. Trips including both Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon nearly demand a car to get between the two areas.
Marmot Invasion -- Always do a quick check under your hood before leaving a parking lot. Marmots, especially in the Mineral King area, love munching on car hoses and wiring, leaving a trail of disabled vehicles in their wake. A good number of them have stowed away in a car's engine compartment and hitched rides with unsuspecting drivers to other parts of the parks; several have ridden as far as the Los Angeles area!
A Vacation from Your Car
Since 2007, the National Park Service and the City of Visalia have operated a transportation system that makes it possible to explore Sequoia National Park without a car. From Visalia (or Three Rivers), the Sequoia Shuttle (tel. 877/287-4453; www.sequoiashuttle.com) will take you to the Giant Forest Museum for just $15 round-trip. From here, riders can connect with the free park shuttle to get to Wuksachi Lodge or one of the numerous trail heads en route. The former makes five runs between 6am and 6:30pm daily (reservations are accepted); the latter runs from 9am to 6pm daily. Both shuttles operate in the summer only, although there has been some talk of extending the season; call for current information.
In Sequoia & Kings Canyon, the Sequoia Shuttle (tel. 877/287-4453; www.sequoiashuttle.com) connects Visalia with the Giant Forest area; it runs in summer for $15 per person round-trip. A free in-park shuttle takes visitors from Giant Forest to Lodgepole, Moro Rock, and other destinations.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.