"Shhh...don't tell anyone about this place" Mineral King by kevanrijn

Mineral King Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 36 photos

I shouldn't (and would not) have told anyone

but another VT member has already let the cat out of the bag. So I guess it won't matter if I share my views about Mineral King also. Just don't go there, OK? We don't want the place ruined by tourists! ;) Check out Chewy3326's pictures--he's got much better pictures of Mineral King posted than I do right now, and his pictures will give you an idea of what the two of us are raving about when we talk about Mineral King. Check out Chewy3326's Mineral King pages and tips.

Mineral King IS off the beaten track--literally. You must be determined to get there. Don't go there if you suffer from vertigo or are daunted by hairpin curves, unpaved roads, drop-offs of thousands of feet with no guardrail to stop you from going over the mountain, blind curves, or bears. Seriously.

This is the place that defeated Disney

If Mineral King were not so difficult to access, it would have been ruined long ago. In fact, back in the sixties, Walt Disney himself had plans to turn this beautiful sub-alpine valley of pristine streams and lovely forest into a world-class ski resort. The few residents of Mineral King joined up with environmentals and organized to stop the plan. But what really put a halt to the plans to develop the area was the estimated cost of building an all-weather road into the valley.

Fortunately, before some other developer with bigger pockets and big dreams could come along and ruin the place, it was incorporated into Sequoia National Park. Whew! Big relief! Now the place is safe for us and for future generations to enjoy. If only it isn't someday ruined by the National Park Service deciding to improve the road so the windshield tourists can enjoy the place....

Getting there IS scary

For real, folks. It didn't especially bother me, but I AM a professional driver...and then I grew up in West Virginia and know my way around a hairpin turn and am not bothered by huge drop-offs. Be warned though, this is a challenging road. It's 24 miles long, from where it turns off of California Route 198 to the end of the road in Mineral King Valley. In that 24 miles are 698 curves (many of them hairpin and/or blind). After the first few miles, the road is only one to one and half lanes wide, with parts of it unpaved, and with several sections that are severely washboarded and badly potholed. If you meet another vehicle, there is a good chance that one of you will end up backing up a ways to a turnout so you can get past each other.

Mineral King is only open from Memorial Day weekend (weather & road conditions permitting) to first snow (which can be as early as September). Also, there are almost no facilities in Mineral King. There is a small restaurant/general store at Silver City, a few miles from the valley. Silver City also has some vacation cabins (expensive and don't go without a reservation) and you can pay to get a hot shower there too. In Mineral King itself, there are no flush toilets, and no hot running water. What there is, is a small visitors center that mostly exists to issue hiking permits (no displays or other things to interest the casual visitor), two camp grounds (for tents) with primitive facilities. There no electric lines into the valley. The only power that exists is provided by generator.

Mineral Kings will primarily appeal to hikers and backpackers. There nothing there to entertain the casual windshield tourist but some gorgeous scenery. However, most of the gorgeous scenery can't be seen from the parking lots--you gotta get out of the car and go on foot!

If all this doesn't deter you, then maybe you should give it a visit. Just so you know I'm not exaggerating the dangers though, please check out my warning tips on Mineral King.

I have many gorgeous pictures of Mineral King but only the few I have shown here are loaded on my computer right now. I will update with better pictures later.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Possibly the most beautiful scenery in the United States
  • Cons:Horrible access road--thank goodness!
  • In a nutshell:Paradise on earth, 3 months of the year
  • Last visit to Mineral King: Oct 1997
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (6)

Comments (5)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    I'm too far away to come and see this beautiful place! Great "Bear" tips.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Dec 15, 2007 at 7:33 AM

    What a breathtaking place, and your detailed information paints a beautiful photograph in itself. Mineral King is a place I know nothing about but your enticing tips make it a spot I'd love to experience.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2007 at 11:46 AM

    An excellent page on your excursion to Mineral King!! The scenery is awesome and your hike looks like a real experience! I like roads like the one you described, but my wife is more nervous about them (maybe because I'm driving!) .

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2007 at 8:20 PM

    I have been to Sequoia National Park when I lived in California but I am very sorry I missed Mineral King. I sure would have loved it and the road too!

  • chewy3326's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2007 at 12:37 PM

    I didn't have as many troubles with deer and bears as I did with marmots... Great page on Mineral King, I would agree that it is one of the most beautiful spots in America.


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