Death Valley National Park vs Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

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Death Valley and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are two sides of the same coin, offering vastly different experiences to visitors. Death Valley is a place of extremes, with scorching temperatures and barren landscapes that leave visitors in awe. On the other hand, Sequoia & Kings Canyon is a lush and verdant park that is home to some of the largest trees on Earth. Whether you’re a fan of towering trees or scorching deserts, these parks are sure to leave you in awe and make you want to explore more. So, pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and let’s embark on an epic adventure through the contrasting landscapes of Death Valley and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks!

Hiking Trails in Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks offer a range of hiking experiences. Death Valley has several easy trails like Natural Bridge and Salt Creek, offering geological features and wildlife viewing. Meanwhile, Telescope Peak is a challenging hike, reaching 11,049 ft with panoramic views of the valley. On the other hand, Sequoia & Kings Canyon have both easy walks, such as Big Trees Trail and Congress Trail, showcasing giant sequoias, as well as strenuous backpacking trails like Rae Lakes Loop and High Sierra Trail, passing through scenic alpine landscapes.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Death Valley National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail 1.80 mi 9.84 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail 2.79 mi 206.64 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Zabriskie Point 0.40 mi 52.48 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Dante’s View Trail 1.60 mi 360.80 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Telescope Peak Trail 11.97 mi 3,322.64 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral 2.89 mi 574.00 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop via Zabriskie Point 5.79 mi 1,092.24 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Mosaic Canyon Trail 3.49 mi 1,066.00 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Death Valley Natural Bridge Road 4.29 mi 1,000.40 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Darwin Falls Trail via Old Toll Road 1.90 mi 226.32 ft out and back Easy 4/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Moro Rock Trail 0.40 mi 186.96 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Tokopah Falls via Tokopah Valley Trail 3.99 mi 639.60 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Heather Lake, Emerald Lake, and Pear Lake Trail via Watchtower and Pear Lake Trails 11.77 mi 2,912.64 ft out and back Hard 5/5
General Sherman Tree Trail 0.80 mi 154.16 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Marble Falls Trail 7.38 mi 1,626.88 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Congress Trail 3.19 mi 498.56 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Alta Peak Trail 14.87 mi 4,063.92 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5
Mineral King to Eagle Lake Trail 6.49 mi 2,214.00 ft out and back Moderate 5/5
Big Trees Trail 1.30 mi 121.36 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Giant Forest Loop Trail 6.98 mi 1,282.48 ft loop Easy 5/5

Wildlife in Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley NP & Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP are both national parks in California. Death Valley NP is known for its hot and arid climate, while Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP is known for its forested mountains, tall trees and deep canyons. As a result, the wildlife in these parks is quite different. Death Valley NP is home to species adapted to desert conditions, such as the bighorn sheep, roadrunner, and desert tortoise. On the other hand, Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP has a wider variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, marmots, and many species of birds. The park is also known for its giant sequoias, which are some of the largest trees in the world, and its diverse plant life, including wildflowers, ferns, and shrubs.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Death Valley National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling European Starling
Northern Pintail Northern Pintail
American Wigeon Green-Winged Teal
Green-Winged Teal American Pipit

Mammals

Death Valley National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Coyote Coyote
Muskrat American Beaver
Big Brown Bat Muskrat
Bobcat Big Brown Bat
Little Brown Bat Bobcat
Deer Mouse Striped Skunk
Raccoon Little Brown Bat
Porcupine Deer Mouse
Silver-Haired Bat Raccoon
Hoary Bat Black Bear
House Mouse Porcupine
Mountain Lion Silver-Haired Bat
Mule Deer Hoary Bat
Gray Fox Red Fox
Long-Legged Myotis Long-Tailed Weasel
Long-Eared Myotis House Mouse
Badger Mountain Lion
Californian Myotis Mink
Fringed Myotis Mule Deer
Common Shrew Gray Fox
Mexican Free-Tailed Bat Wolf
Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat Long-Legged Myotis
Bushy-Tailed Woodrat Long-Eared Myotis
Western Harvest Mouse Badger
Western Small-Footed Myotis Ermine

Reptiles

Death Valley National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Gopher Snake Gopher Snake
Terrestrial Gartersnake Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Ring-Necked Snake Racer
Common Sagebrush Lizard Ring-Necked Snake
Common Side-Blotched Lizard Sagebrush Lizard
Rubber Boa Common Garter Snake
Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard Common Kingsnake
Smith������S Black-Headed Snake Rubber Boa
Tree Lizard Nightsnake
Eastern Fence Lizard Southwestern Black-Headed Snake
Glossy Snake Western Whiptail
Long-Nosed Snake Western Skink
Western Fence Lizard Long-Nosed Snake
Western Fence Lizard

Fish

Death Valley National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Largemouth Bass Rainbow Trout
Mosquitofish Brook Trout Charr Salter
Goldfish Brown Trout
Green Sunfish
Golden Shiner
European Carp
Black Bullhead
Brown Bullhead
Goldfish
Smallmouth Bass

Amphibians

Death Valley National Park Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Woodhouse’s Toad Bullfrog
Canyon Treefrog

Beautiful Landscapes in Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley NP is known for its vast desert landscapes, including Badwater Basin (lowest point in N. America), salt flats, sand dunes, and mesas. The park also features the Panamint Range mountain range and several scenic drives including Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP showcases the giant sequoia trees, some over 300ft tall, in areas such as the Giant Forest and Grant Grove. The parks also feature scenic valley views, alpine lakes, and high mountain peaks like Mount Whitney (the highest peak in Contiguous US). The park’s landscape also includes deep canyons, such as Kings Canyon and Cedar Grove.

Things To-Do and Activities in Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are both popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, but each park offers a unique set of activities. Death Valley is known for its extreme heat, salt flats, and sand dunes, and visitors often enjoy scenic drives, stargazing, and off-roading. In contrast, Sequoia & Kings Canyon are known for their towering trees, scenic vistas, and waterfalls, and visitors often enjoy hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. Both parks offer a range of experiences, from leisurely walks to challenging hikes, and both are popular destinations for families and solo travelers alike. However, visitors to Sequoia & Kings Canyon are more likely to encounter snow and icy conditions during the winter months, while Death Valley is known for its scorching temperatures year-round.

Best Time to Visit Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley National Park, located in California and Nevada, is one of the hottest and driest places in the world. Summer temperatures can reach well over 100°F, making it essential to bring plenty of water and to avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. Winter temperatures are mild, with daytime highs in the 60s and 70s, but nighttime lows can be quite cold, often dipping into the 30s. Winter is the best time to visit Death Valley for cooler temperatures and for viewing the wildflowers that bloom after winter rains.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, located in California, have a much different climate. The parks are located at higher elevations and receive more precipitation than Death Valley, which results in a cooler and wetter climate. Summer temperatures are pleasant, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s, making it a great time to hike and explore the parks. Winter brings heavy snow, making some roads and trails impassable and limiting access to some areas of the parks. The best time to visit Sequoia & Kings Canyon is late spring or early summer, when the snow has melted, providing access to more of the parks and the wildflowers are in bloom.

Family Friendliness of Death Valley National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Death Valley and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks offer different experiences for families. Death Valley is a desert landscape with unique geological features, such as sand dunes, salt flats and canyons, providing a rugged, otherworldly adventure for older children. On the other hand, Sequoia & Kings Canyon has more diverse ecosystems, including groves of giant sequoia trees and wildlife, making it a better option for families with younger children or those who prefer a more traditional outdoor experience. Both parks offer ranger-led programs, but Sequoia & Kings Canyon has more options for families, including Junior Ranger activities.

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