Hospital Rock, Sequoia National Park
Photo © National Park Service
Enjoy a picnic here, as Native Americans did long ago.
Hospital Rock Picnic Area is nestled alongside the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park, just northeast of Three Rivers, California, along the Generals Highway or the main road through the park. Access the park from Highway 198.
Archeologists have determined that evidence found in the area proves it was once occupied by approximately 500 Native Americans belonging to the Potwisha sub-group of the Monache, or Western Mono Indians, as far back as 1350 A.D. Look for several outdoor exhibits depicting what life might have been like during the time the Native Americans lived here. Walk across the street from the picnic area and discover the main attraction─ ancient pictographs (rock paintings) from these Native American artists. It’s truly amazing that they have lasted and can still be seen on large rock walls to the delight of park visitors. The same can also be said for nearly 50 bedrock mortars that were used to grind acorns into flour by former inhabitants.
A very short trail to the riverbank is located across the street. Be cautious along the river banks. Water and slippery rocks are beautiful but a dangerous combination. Drowning is the main cause of death in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Ticks, poison oak, and rattlesnakes are abundant in the foothills below 5,000 feet in elevation. Please pay close attention when hiking in the area to avoid the risks of exposure to these hazards, and the harm they can inflict.
Hiking enthusiasts may want to take the Paradise Creek Trail (4.2 miles, roundtrip) which begins at the nearby Buckeye Flat Campground. Check out the additional Geotourism site entry for more information.
Know the Bear Facts! Whether staying in the picnic area or going for a longer hike, always store food away from bears. Use large, brown bear-proof boxes to store food and scented items. Never leave food or scented items unattended.
Recreational Opportunities: Walking, hiking, exercise, photography, and bird- and wildlife-watching.
Be Safe! Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks/lunch. Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction, as well as long pants (due to ticks and poison oak). Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring insect repellent.
Vertical Gain or Loss: Flat area
Trail Distance: Trails of .5-1 mile located nearby.
One large picnic site is paved to accommodate wheelchairs. Bathrooms are handicapped-accessible.
Pets are not permitted on any trails within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but are allowed 100 feet from roads in developed areas (picnic areas, campgrounds, and roads). Where allowed, pets must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet in length. Never leave pets in cars when it is warm, or they overheat quickly. Pets must not be left unattended in the parking area or in vehicles.