A Classic High-Sierra Winter
at Montecito Sequoia Lodge
Located at 7,400 feet above sea level, Montecito is the perfect High Sierra location for old-fashioned winter FUN! Winter is our second most popular season, with many families returning year-after-year to enjoy our old-school Winter Sports and classic Mountain Lodge atmosphere. We offer a variety of Winter Activities daily for children and adults (included in your room rate), depending on weather and snow conditions. We also offer reasonably-priced Winter Sports Lessons and Winter Equipment Rentals from our Mountain Top Shop, to make your stay easy, fun, and affordable!
Remember when you were a kid? Spending hours playing in the snow, building snow forts, making snowmen, and sledding down hills? Well, now you can share those classic childhood memories with your children - all in a safe, fun environment, without the electronic distractions of home.
Quality time for your family, no cooking or cleaning for Mom and Dad - just join in the snow play, take a cross-country ski lesson, enjoy a guided snowshoe hike, or relax by the fire or in our outdoor hot tub, while our counselors care for your kids (ages 5 - 12) in our Kids' Program, for two activity periods a day (morning & afternoon). One of the best things about Montecito is that all of our activities start right from our lodge, including miles and miles of cross-country ski trails and stunning views of the Kings Canyon and Sequoia backcountry. No driving to different locations for different sports - they are all right here on our campus!
No reservations needed for dinner either: our three daily buffet meals means you needn't wait for a table to become available to eat your meal, just step up to the buffet and help yourself - kids love it! Want a glass of wine with your dinner? Our Pine Box Bar offers reasonably-priced local favorites as well as popular wines and beers for your enjoyment. Our large dining tables are designed to be shared by our guests to encourage conversation and getting to know your fellow visitors.
In the evenings, our staff will host a family-friendly Evening Activity, that you can choose to participate in, or just enjoy a good book in front of the fire, while your kids play foosball, ping-pong, or one of the board games available for our visitors. Our lodge is VERY family-friendly and down-to-earth. We believe in play for the whole family, and you'll love the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
We do offer more activities during the holidays to accommodate the increased number of guests, and will also offer thematic activities (e.g. a visit from Santa and his elves during Christmas, gingerbread-house decorating for the kids, a festive family dance on New Year's Eve). In addition, our culinary team will serve special holiday meals for your family's holiday celebration! Leave the cooking and cleaning to us, while you enjoy quality time with your family!
If you are coming to visit us during the Winter Season, it is important that you know that we are located in a chain control zone. According to California State Law, you must bring tire chains with you, even if you have 4WD or AWD, or you may not be able to enter the parks.
Additionally, when we receive fresh snow, you may only be able to access Montecito via our Escort-only Service, which departs from Grant Grove Village at 5:00 pm. So, if we have recently had a snowstorm, or if we are expecting snow the day of your visit, plan to arrive to the parks well before 5:00 pm, so you can make the 5:00 pm escort. Call our Front Desk (1-559-565-3388, press "0") before leaving home to find out if we expect to be on escort-service only the day of your arrival. Find out more about Winter travel to Montecito here.
Winter Sports & Activities at Montecito
High Sierra Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-Country skiing is Montecito Sequoia Lodge's premier winter sport. Our cross-country ski trails begin right at the steps of our Main "Sequoia" Lodge. Our staff regularly grooms between 30 and 50 km of trails for both classic and skate skiing. Our diverse terrain accommodates skiers of all levels, beginner to advanced. Follow our trails through pine and fir forests to spectacular vistas of the Sierra, the Great Western Divide, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Discover the beauty and peace of winter in the California Sierra High Country.
Sequoia National Forest is full of open bowls and hills that are perfect for backcountry snowboarding. Beginners will find groomed practice hills closer to the Sequoia Lodge. Snowboards are available for rent at our Mountain Top Ski Shop.
Take a hike in the snow - it's great exercise! Let our Mountain Top Ski Shop staff help you get into some snowshoes, pick a trail, and go! We have miles of trails in our backyard with grand vistas, rolling terrain, and 360° views of the Kings Canyon and Sequoia backcountry, from the top of Big Baldy.
Snow Tubing & Sledding
There are lots of hills at Montecito that are perfect for tubing and sledding. In fact, there's something for everyone, from beginner to daredevil. Bring your own plastic sleds, or borrow our snow tubes and sleds for free (included in your room rate)!
Outdoor Hot Tub
What could be better than looking up at the stars from our beautiful outdoor year-round hot tub? After a workout on the slopes or tubing hill, or a day of relaxation by the fire, settle into our jetted hot tub, and let your stress melt away with one of the best nightsky views in the country.
Other Winter Activities
During our Winter Season, Mother Nature sometimes surprises us with variable conditions. Too much snow, too little snow, extremely sunny or stormy weather, often calls for a change in our offerings. Don't worry - our staff is prepared for all situations, and we take your FUN seriously! So when Mother Nature trys to throw us a curve, you may find that we do some of the following activities when weather conditions call for something different than our traditional Winter Programming. They include: Arts & Crafts, Archery, Air-Riflery, Winter Paintball, Jiu-jitsu, Fencing, Guided Hikes, and more. These are many of the activities that we offer during our Summer Family Camp, so our staff already has expertise in them.
Kids' Program (Ages 5 & up)
We offer daily, counselor-led programming for children (ages 5 - 12 years old), which is included in your room rate. There is one morning activity session and one afternoon session (except on certain holidays when we offer more). Older children are welcome to join in, and those who are younger are also welcome, with the supervision of a parent. The program is customized by our talented staff to fit the size and age range of the group. Activities can include both indoor and outdoor play, depending on conditions, and often includes snow tubing or sledding, fort-building, building snowmen, making snow angels, arts & crafts, and more.
Winter Sports Equipment Rentals from our Mountain Top Ski Shop
Don't own any Winter Sports equipment? No worries, we offer interchangeable daily rentals for reasonable rates at our Mountain Top Ski shop. That means for one low daily rate per person, you can change your equipment numerous times daily as you change the activity you are participating in. Our rentals include cross-country skis, snowboards, and snowshoes (along with all the accompanying equipment, ie. poles, boots, helmets, etc.). The use of snowtubes and sleds is complimentary to our lodging guests. Please note that all activities are subject to availability and weather conditions. Also, our activities rotate, so therefore, a specific activity may not be available on a given day, but our Kids' program (Ages 5-12) will always be offered and will adjust activities to the current weather conditions.
Winter Sports Lessons
Winter Sport Lessons are offered daily for an additional fee, and may vary. Equipment rental during each lesson is free. Sign-ups for lessons, along with a Daily Activity Schedule, are posted near the front desk during dinner the night before. Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call ahead of time for availability of group and/or private lessons.
Develop or build on your skills by investing time in a 90-minute lesson. We offer introductory and intermediate cross-country ski lessons for children (ages 5 & up), and adults. Our experienced instructors will help your child develop balance, coordination, and a love for the winter environment. These sessions will allow all who partake to learn basic ski skills - like gliding, climbing hills, and skiing downhill under control - in a playful and supportive setting. More advanced skiers can challenge themselves with new techniques like diagonal stride-skiing, skate-skiing, and telemarking. There is a small additional charge for ski lessons, except when children take them with our kids' program; your ski equipment is included free with your lesson.
Sign up for a 90-minute lesson with our trained ski school staff. Learn the fundamentals and build your confidence in this exciting sport while in a safe environment. There is a small additional charge for snowboarding lessons, except when children take them with our kids' program; your snowboarding equipment is included free with your lesson.
A guided snowshoe walk with a naturalist is an inspiring experience. Take an interpretive tour through stunning backcountry to magnificient mountain vistas. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary.
Each evening at Montecito, we offer a family-friendly activity to all of our guests. From evening S'mores, to Montecito Trivia, Jeopardy, or Bingo, to a fun Family Dance, guests will have an old-fashioned evening of family fun. When our snow conditions are just right, we may even offer Night Tubing or an evening of Ice Skating on Lake Homavalo.
You may choose to join our counselor-led evening activities, or you may prefer to do your own thing. The kids can play foosball, ping pong, or the many board games we offer to our guests. You may choose to have a glass of wine and read, or socialize in front of the fireplaces in our Main Lodge. No matter what you choose, we hope you relax and enjoy this precious family time, and enjoy watching your children play and make new friends. Check the posted Daily Activity Schedule at the Lodge for the next day's offerings; note that many activities require sign ups the evening before.
Winter Travel Advisory and Winter Escort Service (CALL our Front Desk: 1-559-565-3388, press "0," before leaving home!)
Here are the important steps to take for your drive to Montecito during the Winter months:
Bring Your Chains: If you are coming to Montecito in the winter months (November through April), you must carry tire chains with you, even if you have 4WD or AWD, or you may not be able to enter the parks - this is a California State law! Make sure your tire chains fit your vehicle before leaving home (if you get to the parks and they don't fit, you won't be able to enter if chains are required due to snow/ice). Please note that conditions when you exit the parks may require chains, even if your entrance into the parks did not. For your safety, please carry chains.
Check Weather Forecast & NPS Road Conditions: Before your trip, you can check out our Weather Forecast & NPS road conditions (1-559-565-3341, press 1, 1) before leaving home, to see if we are expecting snow and what the current chain and/or 4WD requirements are, but please note that conditions and requirements can change rapidly throughout the day, so don't forget your chains!
Enter the Parks via Hwy. 180 (Northern "Big Stump" Entrance/Kings Canyon NP): Always plan to enter the parks via the Northern "Big Stump" Entrance to Kings Canyon National Park via Hwy. 180, during the winter months. The road between the parks is usually closed for most of the winter season, so you will not be able to access Montecito via the Southern "Ash Mountain" Entrance in Sequoia National Park (via Hwy. 198). See more information for directions to Montecito during the Winter Months on our Winter Travel Advisory page.
Call our Front Desk before leaving home (1-559-565-3388, press "0"): Call our Front Desk to confirm current road and weather conditions for the day of your arrival, and to find out if we expect to be on Escort-service only into Montecito. If we are on escort-only service into Montecito, you will need to make a reservation for our escort (complimentary to our guests), so that we know you are coming. Call enroute, if you are significantly delayed and cannot make the 5:00 pm escort.
Plan to Arrive to the Parks by 4:30 pm, escorts will depart from Grant Grove Village at 5:00 pm: Escorts meet in front of the Grant Grove Village Market & Post Office at 4:30 pm, and depart at 5:00 pm to caravan into Montecito. Please note that Grant Grove Village is located on the right-hand side of Hwy 180, approximately 3 miles beyond the Big Stump/Kings Canyon Park Entrance gate (you can ask the Park Ranger at the entrance station for more specific directions). If we are on escort service, or if we are expecting snow the day of your arrival, please give yourself plenty of extra time to make the escort. If you arrive early to Grant Grove Village for the escort, you can visit the General Grant Tree Grove and the Kings Canyon Visitor's Center, which are both highly recommended. You can also visit the Grant Grove Restaurant, Market & Gift Shop, for snacks, gifts & sundries, while waiting for our escort team. There are also public restrooms available for your use in the lobby area next to the gift shop.
You can also find out if we are expecting snow and/or if we expect to be on escort-only status via our Montecito Sequoia Lodge & Summer Family Camp Facebook page.
Here are the important phone numbers/links for your drive to Montecito during the Winter months:
Montecito Front Desk: 559-565-3388, press "0" (call before leaving home on the day of your arrival)
National Park Service Road Conditions hotline: 1-559-565-3341, press 1, 1
Please click on the documents below for more information on Montecito Winter Travel Information & our Winter Escort FAQs.