by Amanda Geronikos
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” — John Muir
The man who spent much of his life in the Sierra Nevada and inspired the designation of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (along with others) is also the man for which this rugged lodge is named. Inside, a stately painting of John Muir — also known as the Father of National Parks — oversees thousands of visitors who pass it by, conversing about their adventures in the same, lovingly way he conversed about his own.
Built in 1998 and renovated in 2014, John Muir Lodge remains a small, no-frills establishment. Yet, it’s just a few minutes from the entrance of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks — you don’t have to drive very far to find it once you’re in the parks — and even closer to Grant Grove, where families can eat at an onsite restaurant, purchase postcards at a gift shop (and even send them from an onsite post office), and visit a ranger station for park tips and information. Free Wi-Fi is available in the property’s common areas, but in these parts, it’s better to disconnect with technology and reconnect with the great outdoors.
Our Editor Loves
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite restaurant
- Location in Kings Canyon National Park
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
John Muir Lodge is a small, cozy hotel with just 36 rooms in two configurations. In 2014, all accommodations were updated with new carpeting, artwork, bedding, headboards, chairs, fans and TVs, plus soundproof walls. The walls aren't totally soundproof, admittedly -- guests are able to hear the sound of others' heaters (sounds like a shower is running). However, it's not enough to deter us from returning. Cribs and rollaway beds are available, the latter for a fee of $10 per night.
Tip: Request a room on the first floor, as there aren't any elevators available.
Standard Rooms provide two queen beds, and are the only option for families; they sleep up to four guests. Bathrooms offer shower and tub combinations, with sinks just outside the bathroom door. Each Standard Room also includes a mini-fridge, coffeemaker, dresser, table and chairs, and other expected amenities -- a hairdryer, iron and ironing board.
Deluxe Rooms are exactly the same, except they offer one king bed and a large lounge chair. Deluxe Rooms sleep up to two guests.
Note: John Muir Lodge recognizes quiet hours, 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. -- a nice perk for families.
We stayed at the “Rustic Cabin with Shared Bath” and really enjoyed our stay. Didn’t expect much as it is a cabin, but we were positively surprised how nice it was. Beds were really comfortable and the room was really warm (some comments saying that the heaters didn’t work). Staff at the front desk, restaurant, and elsewhere were really friendly. Will recommend this to friends and family.
by Patrick G
We stayed in the John Muir Lodge cabins (# 5) after a stay at Wuksachi lodge. They are significantly different experiences. As with any national park lodge, you simply cannot beat the location and near immediate accessibility to all that the park has to offer without traveling in from an off site lodging spot. We initially had a tent cabin reservation but with October night temps in the 20s and no heat or water in the tent cabins, we considered ourselves lucky to get a cabin reservation the week of our visit. The cabins are old and feel old, but they are quaint and definitely fine for sleeping and showering. Ours felt like it might be largely unchanged from its original state with some cosmetic updates. Some cabins in the property are newer, but short of calling the office, there is no way to assess such on the reservation site. A wall mounted heater kept the room warm. There is a very small deck outside the room for sitting. One bedspread definitely needed replacing but the beds were comfortable.
As is mentioned in other reviews, there is no phone or wi-fi accessibility outside of the main John Muir Lodge building, which was ok for us in a national park outdoor experience. Wuksachi does feel more attentive and well run, but we enjoyed our stay in Grant Grove and the Muir cabins very much.
The restaurant just a walk down from the cabins does have very slow but friendly service. Once the food arrives, it is good quality, just make sure that you have everything you need because the staff is not likely to be back frequently or until you request the check. A breakfast buffet is available. A well stocked general store and post office are on the grounds just next to the visitors center.
Lobby Great Room
John Muir Lodge is just a place to rest between adventures in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks -- the stars of the show. The Lobby Great Room, however, is a nice place to relax after a day of sightseeing. Curl up on a cozy chair or sofa in front of the crackling fireplace and enjoy a board game, puzzle or book -- all available at the hotel (or bring your own). Just outside the Great Room is a deck, where it's nice to sit on warm nights.
The hotel is located just steps from the General Grant Tree Trail -- an easy hike for families.
Grant Grove Restaurant
The Grant Grove Restaurant, another no-frills establishment, is located a short walk from the lodge. It serves delicious fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner; favorites include lemon mascarpone pancakes and apple juice-infused oatmeal for breakfast, gourmet burgers and pizzas for lunch, and rib eye steak and fresh trout for dinner. The restaurant doesn't have a bar, but alcohol is available.
Kids are treated to a menu of their own, which includes the usual suspects (macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken tenders), plus a puzzle to solve while waiting for food. Meals come with carrot sticks or fruit cups.
Grant Grove Restaurant is open seasonally, with varying hours. Note: In late-2015, the restaurant will be torn down and rebuilt to include more indoor seating, plus an outdoor seating area with fire pits.
Grab a coffee at the espresso bar, located on a patio outside the restaurant.
Grant Grove Restaurant also offers boxed lunches for trips to the parks. They include sandwiches with chips, fruit, a cookie and beverage for adults, and sandwiches, a juice box, fruit and yogurt for kids. Order boxed lunches in the dining room or at the espresso bar the night before your trip.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Free Wi-Fi is available in the Lobby Great Room, as well as the property's main building, where you'll find the check-in area, onsite restaurant and gift shop. While service is spotty throughout the parks, there's a strong signal in all areas it's offered at the hotel.
There's an onsite gift shop that sells shirts, ornaments, postcards and other collectibles to take home or send out at the post office, also located onsite. Snacks and beverages, including wine, are also available for purchase.
Stop at the onsite ranger station to ask questions and get brochures and maps. Also inquire about free, ranger-led tours in the park -- they're frequently hosted in the summer months.
Check-In and Check-Out
Guests need to check in at the registration desk located between the restaurant and gift shop in Grant Grove Village. There isn't a check-in area at the lodge.
The Art of Smart Timing
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. While most of them trek to the parks in the summertime, shoulder months -- March, April, September and October -- shouldn't be overlooked and are actually prime times to visit.
Note: If you're considering visiting in the winter (another beautiful time to see the sequoias), be aware you'll need to purchase tire chains (buy in advance to save money); they're required during inclement weather, which often includes several feet of snow at a time. Park rangers and property staff are able to assist in putting them on vehicles. Also be aware that car rental companies frown upon the use of tire chains (but most people use them anyway).
The closest airport to John Muir Lodge is Fresno Yosemite International Airport, approximately two hours away. You'll need to rent a car to get there. Note: You will lose cellular reception on your way to the hotel, so just follow signs to the entrance of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (or bring a map), and ask a ranger for directions -- the hotel isn't very far from the entrance.
You need a car to get around Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Parking at John Muir Lodge is free.