Best Things to Do in Three Rivers CA

Three Rivers is often seen as a mere pit stop for travelers heading to Sequoia National Park, but it hides a treasure trove of undiscovered gems. While it may exude a quaint and tranquil small-town charm, Three Rivers possesses a beauty that rivals the grandeur of Sequoia National Park itself. Its attractions aren’t confined to its streets but rather sprawl across its lakes, rivers, and parks.

Located in Tulare County, California, Three Rivers lies nestled in the foothills of the illustrious Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Blessed with a stunning lake and river, this unincorporated community thrives on water-based activities, hiking, and nature exploration. Three Rivers is the perfect destination for families, friends, groups, water sports enthusiasts, and history aficionados.

For those contemplating a visit to Three Rivers, the journey entails a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Los Angeles, covering approximately 200 miles to the east. Alternatively, if you’re traveling from San Francisco, the distance is roughly 250 miles, requiring about four hours of travel time. The temperate climate in Three Rivers ensures a delightful year-round vacation experience.

Here’s a compilation of the top 20 things to do in Three Rivers, CA:

1. White water rafting

If you plan your visit to Three Rivers between April and June, you’ll find it to be a prime destination for white water rafting. The town derives its name from the convergence of the three forks of the Kaweah River that either flow through the town or its vicinity. During the spring, the Kaweah River typically boasts some formidable rapids, ranging up to Level 5. However, there are also more tranquil sections of the river with Level 3 rapids, ideal for family white water rafting adventures with children aged 8 and older.

The duration of the rafting season hinges on the snowpack and subsequent snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In drier winters, the rafting season may conclude well before summer arrives. In years when there’s an abundance of snowfall, the river may become exceptionally full and challenging, prompting some white water rafting companies to raise the minimum age for participants to 10 and older.

Before embarking on your rafting adventure, it’s essential to thoroughly research the current conditions and availability of rafting trips. Three Rivers is home to several reputable companies that organize white water rafting excursions, many of which have received positive reviews. One example is Sequoia Adventures. While we haven’t personally experienced rafting in Three Rivers yet, as our initial visit coincided with our children being too young, and our subsequent visit was during a dry spell, we are eagerly looking forward to trying it in the future. White water rafting ranks at the top of our list of things to do in Three Rivers.

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2. Tour Sequoia National Park with the Sequoia Parks Conservancy

Exploring the vast expanse of Sequoia National Park can be a daunting task for the average tourist. To enhance your experience, it’s advisable to plan a guided tour led by knowledgeable park experts. The Sequoia Parks Conservancy offers a range of guided outdoor tours encompassing both Sequoia National Park and the nearby Kings Canyon National Park. These tours not only provide the opportunity to get up close to the majestic Sequoia trees but also offer immersive outdoor adventures in the wilderness.

To participate in the public guided tours organized by the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, you can conveniently visit their office located at 47050 Generals Hwy #10 in Three Rivers, CA.

3. Swimming

During the summer months, when the water levels of the Kaweah River recede, swimming becomes one of the most enjoyable activities in Three Rivers. Some lodging options in the town are conveniently situated right along the river, offering their guests direct access to a private beach and the water. However, if your accommodation lacks water access or you’re just visiting Three Rivers for the day, the Slick Rock Recreation Area (located at 39883 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA 93271) is an excellent option to consider.

The Slick Rock Recreation Area provides ample access to the Kaweah River. In this particular stretch, the Kaweah River widens, creating numerous tranquil swimming holes (as depicted in the picture below). To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to arrive early, especially on weekends, as this area tends to get crowded. Please note that there is an on-site parking fee of $5.

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4. Eat Delicious Mexican Food at the Quesadilla Gorilla

Quesadilla Gorilla is a rapidly expanding Mexican restaurant that has garnered significant popularity among both locals and tourists in Three Rivers. This restaurant chain boasts three locations in Fresno, Hanford, and, notably, Three Rivers itself. Quesadilla Gorilla distinguishes itself by offering a diverse menu of beloved Mexican dishes, including tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and a range of other delectable gourmet offerings.

Given the limited dining options in Three Rivers, making a visit to establishments known for their exceptional food like Quesadilla Gorilla is a wise choice. After a full day of exploring Three Rivers and its stunning state parks, it’s highly recommended to make a stop at Quesadilla Gorilla, conveniently located at 41119 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA 93271, for a satisfying and quick meal.

5. Boating, fishing, kayaking and more

Lake Kaweah, situated a mere 15-minute drive from Three Rivers, stands as a premier destination for a wide range of water sports enthusiasts. This expansive lake was formed by the construction of a dam on the Kaweah River. Offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, Lake Kaweah beckons visitors to engage in activities such as fishing for catfish, bass, and trout.

While some visitors bring their own boats, there is also a well-equipped marina that provides the option to rent various types of boats for half or full days. Additionally, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available, as well as aqua cycles for those looking for a unique water experience.

One of the standout features at Lake Kaweah is the availability of patio boats, which come in various sizes accommodating from 8 to 18 passengers. These boats are particularly appealing on sunny and hot California days as they provide ample shade. For a family of four like ours, an 8-passenger boat proved to be the perfect size, allowing us to bring along all our essentials, including food, drinks, fishing gear, and swimming equipment.

Our day on Kaweah Lake was truly fantastic, and we look forward to returning. The lake’s summer waters are pleasantly warm and ideal for swimming. What adds to the convenience is that patio boats are equipped with staircases leading directly into the water, making it easy for even small children to safely enter and exit for a refreshing swim.

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6. Spend the Night at the Sequoia Campground and Lodge

For a charming and convenient lodging option near the attractions of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, look no further than the Sequoia Campground and Lodge. Nestled perfectly at the foothills’ entrance to Sequoia National Park and just a stone’s throw from the scenic Kaweah River, this establishment offers a cozy haven for visitors.

Set on a sprawling 25-acre property that faces the picturesque Kaweah River, Sequoia Campground and Lodge is truly a camper’s paradise. During the day, you can partake in a multitude of water-based activities in the river. Beyond its aquatic allure, the campground boasts a wide array of outdoor pursuits, including horseback riding, trailblazing, whitewater rafting, fishing, and swimming.

If you’re planning to camp at this wonderful location, you can find it at 40457 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA, ensuring a memorable and nature-filled experience.

7. Hiking

If you plan to visit Three Rivers during the off-season when water activities are less common, you’ll find that the recreation areas I previously mentioned still offer fantastic opportunities for riverside and lakeside hiking. Regardless of the time of year, you can always expect scenic vistas and nearly always breathe in fresh air, except in the unfortunate event of a nearby wildfire. California’s primary wildfire season typically spans from summer through October. However, there’s no need to be overly concerned; simply check the CalFire website for the latest information on wildfires before your visit during the summer and fall months.

8. Fish on a Kayak at Lake Kaweah

To kickstart your Three Rivers travel adventure, make sure to include a visit to the picturesque Lake Kaweah on your itinerary. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill lake; it also serves as Tulare County’s reservoir, created by the Terminus Dam to harness water flowing down from the Sierra Nevada mountains. With a vast total area spanning 185,000 acres, Lake Kaweah plays a crucial role in the region.

In 2004, the lake underwent significant renovations aimed at enhancing its flood control capabilities, safeguarding the towns and agricultural lands downstream from potential flooding. Beyond its essential purpose, Lake Kaweah stands out as a popular outdoor destination, offering a plethora of water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking, and boating for visitors to enjoy.

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9. Three Rivers Historical Museum

One of our primary travel objectives revolves around education, as we have a deep appreciation for discovering historical treasures wherever we venture. In fact, this passion has inspired me to create a dedicated category of itineraries on my blog called “Time Travel.” When it comes to Three Rivers, the local Historical Museum emerges as a top-notch educational destination.

During our visit, which occurred amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum building itself was unfortunately closed to visitors. However, this setback didn’t deter our quest for knowledge. We were pleasantly surprised to find an array of fascinating exhibits outdoors that remained accessible. These exhibits ranged from a comprehensive display on Native Americans to captivating vintage machinery and even a serene water lily pond.

Rest assured, we have every intention of revisiting the Three Rivers Historical Museum the next time we’re in town, eager to delve deeper into its historical riches.

10. Check Out the Sequoia National Park Ash Mountain Entrance Sign

The Ash Mountain Entrance to Sequoia National Park offers a distinctive and memorable welcome to this renowned national treasure. Many tourists make it a point to visit this location, marking their visit to Sequoia National Park by posing for photographs with its iconic sign.

In 1935, Harold G. Fowler, the resident landscape architect of Sequoia National Park, envisioned this welcoming sign. He commissioned the Civilian Conservation Corps to construct this famous landmark in Three Rivers, specifically for tourists. The sign features a meticulously carved Native American face, crafted from the renowned Sequoia Redwood Tree. It is securely affixed with robust metal brackets to ensure its enduring presence.

Before embarking on your journey into Sequoia National Park, be sure to capture some photographs with the iconic Ash Mountain Entrance sign to commemorate your visit.

11. Kaweah Post Office

The Kaweah Post Office is another fascinating destination for time travelers in Three Rivers. This charming post office boasts a remarkable 130-year history, making it not only one of the oldest in the country but also the smallest. Its quaint charm is simply irresistible, making it an absolute must-visit.

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12. Watch Roping Events at the Three Rivers Lions Team Roping

The roots of the renowned rodeo event in Three Rivers can be traced all the way back to the 1880s when local ranchers, cattlemen, and cowboys sought entertainment and friendly competition. Over the years, it has evolved into a prominent roping tournament that attracts some of the finest roping competitors from across the United States.

Witnessing cowboys showcasing their exceptional roping skills as they take on bulls and cows is an unparalleled experience. Regular competitions are held each month, providing ample opportunities for visitors to attend. Additionally, for those seeking a more prestigious spectacle, the Annual Three Rivers Lion’s Roping competition takes place every April.

For an adrenaline-packed sports event, make your way to the Three Rivers Lions Club Roping Arena located at 42490 North Kaweah River Drive, Three Rivers, California, and immerse yourself in the excitement.

13. Reimers Candies and Gifts

Reimers Candies and Gifts is likely to hold a prime spot on every child’s list of must-do activities in Three Rivers. This delightful establishment resembles a real-life “Candyland,” offering an extensive assortment of delectable chocolate treats that are crafted right at Reimers Candies. In addition to the mouthwatering chocolates, they also serve up a variety of ice cream flavors and offer a charming selection of sweet gifts.

This is an especially fantastic place to visit during the scorching summer months when temperatures soar above 100°F. At Reimers Candies and Gifts, you can cool off with an array of ice cream options and take advantage of the air-conditioned seating indoors. Alternatively, a couple of shaded tables outside provide a comfortable place to enjoy your treats.

14. Swim at the Slick Rock Recreation Area

The Slick Rock Recreation Area provides multiple entry points to the scenic Kaweah River, making it a prime location for discovering the most enticing swimming spots along the river. This destination ranks as one of Three Rivers’ favored swimming areas, often bustling with visitors, especially on weekends and during the summer season.

Fortunately, the expanse of the area accommodates everyone comfortably, allowing them to relish the refreshing waters flowing from the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges. Furthermore, the convenience of this attraction extends to its proximity to the town’s camping facilities and lodging options.

You can find the Slick Rock Recreation Area at 39883 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA, ensuring an accessible and enjoyable experience.

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15. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Undoubtedly, the primary draw for most visitors to Three Rivers is the opportunity to explore the magnificent Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This charming town serves as an ideal “base camp” for embarking on adventures within these awe-inspiring natural wonders.

For those planning their journey, I’ve meticulously crafted a comprehensive day-by-day itinerary available on my blog titled “Things to Do in Sequoia National Park with Kids.” This itinerary not only highlights the beauty of Sequoia National Park but also includes notable attractions in Kings Canyon National Park. It offers detailed insights into experiencing the parks during two distinct seasons: Spring and Summer, ensuring that you make the most of your visit.

16. Conquer the Kaweah River’s Whitewater Rafting

From April to June, Three Rivers transforms into a premier destination for whitewater rafting enthusiasts, with the action centered around the thrilling Kaweah River. Whitewater rafting becomes an absolute must-do outdoor activity when you find yourself in Three Rivers during this time.

During the spring season, the Kaweah River comes alive with robust rapids, some reaching up to level five. This surge in intensity is due to the rapid snowmelt occurring in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges. However, rest assured that there are also more tranquil stretches along the river, perfect for beginners and families seeking a more leisurely whitewater rafting experience.

To partake in this exhilarating activity, you have the option to team up with reputable companies that offer whitewater rafting tours in Three Rivers. Two notable choices are Sequoia Adventures Whitewater Rafting and Mountain Descents. These companies employ professional guides who ensure a safe and enjoyable whitewater rafting excursion.

You can select from a range of options, catering to different skill levels, including intermediate to advanced levels, or opt for the family-friendly adventure suitable for kids aged seven and older. To gather more information about their services, you can visit their respective websites or pay a visit to their offices. The Mountain Descents office is located at 41667 Sierra Drive, Three Rivers, CA, while Sequoia Adventure’s office can be found at 43365 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA.

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17. Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave is a stunning underground wonder located within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. This captivating cave system is renowned for its intricate marble formations, including sparkling crystals, stalactites, and stalagmites. Guided tours offer visitors a chance to explore this subterranean world, witnessing the mesmerizing geological wonders that have been forming over thousands of years. Crystal Cave provides a unique and memorable adventure for those seeking to delve into the depths of the Earth’s natural beauty.

18. Stay at the Buckeye Tree Lodge & Cabins

If you’re seeking accommodation close to the attractions of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, look no further than Buckeye Tree Lodge & Cabins, conveniently situated at 46000 Sierra Dr, Three Rivers, CA. This lodge is a mere quarter-mile from the entrance to Sequoia National Park, making it an ideal base for exploration.

Buckeye Tree Lodge & Cabins boasts a selection of more than a dozen eco-friendly cabins, each offering picturesque views of the serene Kaweah River. Beyond comfortable lodging, the lodge provides a variety of outdoor activities, including yoga classes, massage services, guided tours, and captivating stargazing sessions during the nighttime. It’s the perfect retreat to rejuvenate after a full day of touring Three Rivers and its enchanting surroundings.

19. Join the Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA) Tours

When compared to other outdoor guided tours in the Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park area, the offerings from the Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA) stand out for their historical and educational emphasis. These tours provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the invaluable information and rich history associated with Sequoia National Park, Lake Kaweah, Kaweah River, Kings Canyon National Parks, and other nearby attractions in Three Rivers.

If you’re interested in joining one of the Sequoia Natural History Association’s tours, you can easily do so by visiting their office located at 47050 Generals Hwy #10 in Three Rivers, CA. This provides a wonderful opportunity to enrich your experience and gain a deeper appreciation for the natural and historical wonders of the region.

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20. Enjoy Horseback Riding at Three Rivers’ Trails

The rolling hills of Three Rivers offer more than just hiking trails; they provide an ideal setting for horseback riding as well. With the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains as a breathtaking backdrop, you can embark on a horseback riding adventure with the experts at Wood n Horse Stable. This established stable has been a fixture in town since 1982, with the renowned horse trainer Christy Wood at the helm.

Wood n Horse Stable offers guided horseback tours around Three Rivers, catering to the entire family’s enjoyment. Beyond guided tours, they also provide training for individuals eager to learn the art of horseback riding. If you’re keen on exploring Three Rivers from a horse’s perspective, you can visit their stable at 42846 North Fork Dr, Three Rivers, CA, and set out on a memorable equestrian adventure.


Upon perusing this post, you may come to a realization that Three Rivers is far more than just a gateway to the renowned Sequoia National Park. This charming town is brimming with natural wonders and an array of thrilling outdoor activities. If the vastness of the national park feels overwhelming, consider Three Rivers as an excellent alternative for a weekend getaway, especially during the summer when waterborne activities along the Kaweah River abound.

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