Kings Canyon National Park sits right next to Sequoia National Park on the north end. Both parks are part of the Sequoia National Forest and a pass to one allows enter to the other. About two hours northeast of Visalia, Kings Canyon offers visitors many outdoor delights. From Visalia it is an easy trip down highway 63 to highway 180. Highway 180 is the best highway to enter the Kings Canyon National Park.
Things to See in Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon Park has several similarities to Sequoia National Park but it also has unique features. One similarity is of course the giant redwood trees for which Sequoia National Park is famous. Kings Canyon has its own grove of giant redwoods, Grant Grove. In the Grant Grove grows the General Grant Tree. It is the second largest tree by volume in the world and is called “The Nation’s Christmas Tree.
From Grant Grove a 2.3 miles road takes visitors to Panoramic Point. From a parking area a short trail leads hikers to the 7,520 feet high ridge that offers an unforgettable view of the High Sierra. From this lookout hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Hume Lake and Kings Canyon.
Kings River carves through Kings Canyon with rushing white water rapids. The granite canyon walls above the South Fork of the Kings River rise over 8,000 feet. This section of the canyon is several thousand feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is a zigzagging 36-mile section of highway 180 from the entrance to the park to Cedar Grove Village. Travelers pass beautiful granite cliffs and end up in the heart of the canyon where Cedar Grove is located. Cedar Grove offers magnificent waterfalls, lush meadows and wonderful hiking trails. Two spectacular granite rock formations, The Grand Sentinel and North Dome are close by. On the way to Cedar Grove, off of highway 180, visitors can stop at Boyden Cave for a guided tour of this natural wonder.
Accommodations in Kings Canyon Park
Several lodges are available within the Kings Canyon National Park and nearby in Sequoia National Park. In Grant Grove the John Muir Lodge is open year round. It has 36 rooms and is near the General Grant Tree. Also in Grant Grove visitors may choose to stay in available cabins. Some cabins have private baths while other rustic cabins and tent cabins share a central bathhouse. Cedar Grove offers the Cedar Grove Lodge, a small 18 room lodge near the Grand Sentinel and North Dome rock formations. This lodge is open from late May through October.
The Montecito Sequoia Resort is located near a private lake surrounded by both Kings Canyon Park and Sequoia Park. This resort is open year round. From late May through October, visitors may choose the Stony Creek Lodge which is located in nearby Sequoia National Park. The Stony Creek Lodge is a small bed and breakfast inn with 11 rooms. It is located 15 miles from Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest.
Numerous campgrounds are located throughout Kings Canyon, some open year round. Reservations are recommended for lodging and campgrounds during peak seasons.
Activities in Kings Canyon
In addition to the natural scenic sites in Kings Canyon National Park, a multitude of other activities await visitors. Among the two parks, over 800 marked trails await hikers, while explorers can enjoy the caves and skiers the 50 cross-country trails.
Ranger-led walks, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, swimming at Hume Lake, snowshoeing, sledding, and watching the wildlife are just a sampling of the many activities visitors can enjoy in the park.
Visitors should be aware of the time of year and wear clothing accordingly. Remember the temperatures are generally cooler in the higher elevations, but during the summer the days will be warm and sunny. Visitors should also remember to leave the park as they saw it so others can enjoy the same beauty.
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