This is a true 5 star camp and is perched at an altitude of 8,282 feet in a heavily wooded forest within the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Sequoia High Sierra Camp is currently the newest and most elaborate luxury camp in existence. It is the only High Sierra Camp not located within a National Park. Because the land is privately owned, the camp owners have the ability to restock and maintain this remote facility via a hidden road. This allows a much higher standard of amenities very much like a hotel in the city, yet with a wilderness camping flair. Except for the Dinning Pavilion, Bathhouse and a few other permanent structures, the guest cabins are disassembled before the winter snows. There is electricity in the Dinning Pavilion but not in the cabins.
Starting in 2000, a private party based out of Tennessee purchased 40 acres of private land next to Sequoia National Park. The land previously contained a primitive road to a small group of out buildings. The camp opened the camp in 2006 as an upgraded luxury alternative to the existing High Sierra Camps in Yosemite and Sequoia Parks. Not only would the amenities greatly surpass the other camps but reservations would be generally available and without the use of a lottery system. The owner used his background in architecture and sustainable design to create an environmentally sensitive wilderness retreat.
The camp resides on private land within the Giant Sequoia National Monument which is part of the 49,000 acres that was grandfathered into the monument. The Monument was established in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. The 20 acre developed camp is situated at the end of an obscure Forestry Service road. Although vehicles park at a trailhead to Marvin Pass, the camp requires guests to hike the final 1 mile to the facility. However, the camp is resupplied by a hidden road the leads to the camp but is closed to the public. The camp is surrounded by a mixed forest of Lodgepole and Red Fir Pine at an elevation of 8,282 feet. The ever dominate Dinning Pavilion is the social center of camp and overlooks the tree tops onto the Spanish Peaks. To reduce impact, the camps buildings where built upon old logging paths to avoid disturbing the old growth forest.
Directly off the trail is the impressive two story high Dinning Pavilion with its vast open concept design, stately pillars and canvas topped roof. It is the gateway to the rest of the cabins and serves as the check-in base. The cabins themselves are sprinkled across gently rolling terrain and comprise 32 canvas sided units. Each rests on a concrete foundation measuring 14’X24’ which is noticeable larger than other High Sierra Camps. This results in 330 square feet of usable space. To say the cabins are large is an understate, they feel absolutely spacious for a wilderness setting.
Several beautiful woven area rugs adorn the floor of each cabin. Although the canvas sides and roof are supported by metal poles like other camps, 2 additional elements set these cabins apart from the others. First, are the 3 sets of floor-to-ceiling louvered wood shutters. Much like a window, they allow viewing to the outside but also can be used to control ventilation. There are no screens. Then there are two rows of sculpted wood trim/molding that runs around the entire cabin interior. One is shoulder height and towards the door, it has hooks to hang garments or bags. The second row defines the top of the walls were the roof starts. These trim elements gives the cabin the appearance of a hotel room rather than a tent.
Depending if you have reserved singles or a king size bed, the extra push mattress is exactly like you would find in a 5 star hotel. A tasteful wood headboard is mounts to the quiet bedframe. The liens and bedding are high thread count sheets with down feather pillows. Pendleton wool blankets top each bed and extra blankets are also provided. The end result is absolutely sleeping luxury. A large heavy duty foot locker can be used for among other things, storing your trail snacks. As you are camped in the wilderness, snacks are guaranteed to be chewed through while you are out or asleep. Each cabin is furnished with wrought iron bedside side tables, long utility table, two padded lounge chairs with coffee table. A propane reading lantern gives off plenty of light and even takes some chill off the air. There are no heaters in the cabins.
FOOD AND DRINK
Five star meals are one of the highlights of this camp which are prepared by the resident gourmet chef. The food is truly 5 star in both in both presentation and taste. Before dinner, guests can socialize in the Dinning Pavilion’s glass enclosed study with its large fireplace and numerous leather sofas. A large fine wine selection and numerous imported beers are available for purchase. The five course dinner starts with an artfully presented appetizer as guest mingle before seating.
Once the host announces dinner, you are seated on one of the very large round tables that each sits 12. The two story high dining area is completely open to the outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunsets. Cabana-like drapes can be closed during storms or windy weather. Bring your jacket to dinner! Separate courses of gourmet soup and fresh salads are served by a waiter that stands nearby ready to attend any need. The entree changes each night which typically features fresh seafood or lean meats. Desserts are just as special as the other courses and handmade each night by the chef.
Breakfast consists of fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh fruits, muffins, granola and cereal. A cook stands nearby behind the omelet table with fresh ingredients at the ready and waits to prepare you a custom omelette made to your exact specifications. Bacon and potatoes are also available. Shortly after breakfast, lunch fixings are laid out buffet style. Guests are encouraged to pack their day hike lunch from a vast selection of deli meats, cheeses and breads.
DAY HIKING OPTIONS
Numerous scenic and adventurous day hiking excursions are easily accessible from the Sequoia High Sierra Camp. At the Dinning Pavilion, you’ll find literature, including free topography maps that will help you plan your trip. The staff will help you pack your own picnic lunch and assist with choosing an exciting day hike that best suits your interests and athletic abilities.
Originating from camp are nearby glacially carved lakes, expansive mountaintop views, quiet streams and wildflower filled meadows. The most popular as well as the most strenuous is is the 10,365 foot summit of nearby Mitchell Peak. The 365 degree view of the surrounding Sierra is well worth the effort. Once a fire lookout, all that remains is part of the old concrete foundation. Its certainly easy to understand why the Forestry Service picked this peak for their lookout as a gigantic section of the Sierra unfolds below you.
Other day hikes within an easy reach are Rowell Meadow and somewhat farther, Seville Lake. Lastly, the host also offers an affordable shuttle service to facilitate a one way shuttle trip to Cedar Grove which is 8 miles distant. The trip starts with the host’s four wheel vehicle on a closed road, then to the canyon rim where you are dropped off to start the hike. It’s all downhill to Cedar Grove but be sure to take the short side trip to Lookout Peak as the view of the surrounding National Park should not be missed.
SHOWERS AND TOILETS
A large central bathhouse with modern flush toilets and hot showers easily blends into the landscape. The bathhouse has 4 private showers stalls with unlimited hot water. It contains separate men’s and women’s modern bathrooms which are both quite spacious. Each contains flush toilets, sinks, and mirrors. It is also heated which is appreciated during early morning low temperatures. Towels and personal toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap are provided free of charge.
The bathhouse is also equipped with electrical outlets and 24 hour overhead lighting. They even provide a hair dryer. Because the camp is quite large and on rolling terrain, the host has positioned numerous blue water toilets throughout the camp to reduce the walking distance to the central bathhouse. After freshening up at the bathhouse, the main Dinning Pavillion is just a short walk away.
ENTERTAINMENT AND TRADITIONS
The Dinning Pavilion is the social center of camp. It was designed by the camps’ owner who was inspired by his appreciation of an Etruscan Temple. It contains a large study with a mountain/camping inspired reading library as well as numerous board games for entertainment. Guests frequently here just before dinner to sample the large selection of beer and wine offerings for an additional charge. It’s not necessary to bring cash as the host will conveniently add it to your bill made at the time you booked your reservations. This is the only High Sierra Camp to reliably offer alcoholic beverages.
On colder nights, the entire room is easily warmed by the huge stone fireplace. Each night after dinner, the host sets out chocolate bars and graham crackers for guests to make s’mores at the campfire ring which is prepared and lighted by the camps’ staff.
The Pavilion has electricity supplied by a low emissions diesel generator located out of ear shot and enables the gourmet kitchen operations. Wi-Fi is available at the Pavilion but not in the cabins. Smart phones can also be charged at the Pavilion.
BOOKING YOUR STAY
An easy online portal allows for booking reservations, often with only short notice. The camp does occasional does fill due to special group bookings so better to check in advance. Prices although more expensive than the typical High Sierra Camp, includes private room/tent accommodations as well as three handcrafted daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). A four course gourmet dinner is prepared by a professional Chef and rivals any upscale restaurant that you would find in the city. All reservations require a credit card to guarantee. This is the only camp not on a lottery system and is the least stressful to obtain reservations.
You can reach the Sequoia High Sierra Camp from Fresno (via Highway 180) or from Visalia (via Highway 198). Both routes enter the Sequoia/King’s Canyon National Park boundaries from the west; there is no road access from the east. It is highly recommend taking route 180 (from Fresno) – it is an easier drive, less winding and not as prone to traffic and/or road maintenance delays. You are required to pay a National Park Service entry fee. Once you leave the main road, you follow a paved Forestry Service road past many remote campgrounds until you near the camp where the road becomes unpaved. The road dead ends at the Marvin Pass Trailhead. Then it is an easy one mile hike to the camp.