The Great Western Divide is perhaps the largest subrange in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and one of its tallest, reaching a height of 13,802' at Mount Kaweah. The Great Western Divide is located in Sequoia National Park and runs southward into Sequoia National Forest where it transitions into the Greenhorn Mountains
near Parker Pass. It is the primary boundary between the Kern River
to the east and several other drainages to the west, most notably the Kaweah
and Tule Rivers
. On its western slope and in some places its eastern, giant sequoia trees can be found in extensive groves.
Because it is so large and high, the Great Western Divide forms a minor rain shadow to the main crest of the Sierra that parallels it to the east about 10 miles away. Eight peaks on the divide exceed 13,000 feet. The famous High Sierra Trail crosses the divide at Kaweah Gap at 10,700 feet.
Generally speaking, in Sequoia National Park the Great Western Divide is higher, more remote, and more difficult to access. Milestone Mountain may be one of the farthest mountains from a trailhead in the Sierra. But there are a few peaks like Sawtooth that are considered close to a trailhead. Hwy 198 is the main road you will take to access trailheads that will lead you to the Great Western Divide in Sequoia National Park.
In the National Forest, however, the southern end of the divide is quite easy to reach via Hwy 190, County Road M-50, and a few other smaller roads that connect with the Great Western Divide Highway, M-107. The Great Western Divide Highway is usually open late-May through late-November, weather depending. Peaks in this area include Maggie Mountain, Jordan Peak, Slate Mountain, the Needles, Dome Rock, and Mule Peak.
Link to maps for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Link to maps for Sequoia National Forest
The Great Western Divide at sunrise as seen from the Visalia area
There is a $20 fee charged for entrance into Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. This fee will get you a pass good for 7-days. You can also buy a $80 America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Pass good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase. If you're disabled, you may want to get an Access Pass which are free and good for a lifetime. If you're 62 years of age or older, a Senior pass can be purchased for $10 and they're also good for a lifetime. Click here
for more info on fees and passes.
No fees are required to enter into the National Forest.
In Sequoia National Park and the Inyo National Forest:
All overnight trips require a wilderness permit: day trips do not require wilderness permits except for the Mt. Whitney area. Trailheads in this region have quotas limiting overnight entry, so wilderness permits should be obtained as far in advance as possible to ensure entry. There is a small fee for reservations.
In Sequoia National Forest:
Permits are required for overnight trips into the Golden Trout Wilderness, part of which contains the Great Western Divide. There is no quota or fee for these permits and reservations are not required. In non-wilderness portions of the forest permits are not required. If you wish to have a campfire, though, you need to obtain a campfire permit. These are also free and can be obtained at any Forest Service, BLM, or CA Department of Forestry office.
More information on wilderness permits may be found by selecting the links below:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Wilderness Permits
Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permits
Sequoia National Forest Wilderness Permits
Moose Lake and a backdrop of the Great Western Divide
Wilderness camping is allowed with a permit - see the "Red Tape" section above.
Car camping in Sequoia National Park in proximity (within hiking distance) to the Great Western Divide includes: Lodgepole Campground, Buckeye Flat Campground, and South Fork Campground. Click here
for more info on these three campgrounds.
There are several car campgrounds along the Great Western Divide Highway in Sequoia National Forest including Quaking Aspen, Redwood Meadow, Long Meadow Group, and Holey Meadow Group. Reservations are recommended during the summer months, especially on the weekends. There is also a cabin for rent at Quaking Aspen. For more information, visit www.recreation.gov
or call toll-free 1-877-444-6777
In Sequoia National Forest you can also disperse or dry camp off of any dirt road unless otherwise signed. Make sure you have a campfire permit and your own water and don't drive off road and pack out what you pack in. Campfire permits can be obtained free of charge at any Forest Service, California Dept of Forestry, or BLM office.
External LinksSequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument
Tulare Mountains Weather Forecast
Link to webcam
mounted on Sherman Peak in Sequoia National Forest and pointing towards Farewell Gap on the Great Western Divide.
Link to webcam
mounted on Jordan Peak in Sequoia National Forest and pointing towards the Great Western Divide. Maggie Mountain is on the far left and Vandever Peak on the far right.
The High Sierra Trail
For More Information:
Sequoia National Forest
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Western Divide Ranger District
32588 Hwy 190
Springville, CA 93265
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271-9700