Sequoia National Park, the second oldest Park next to Yellowstone, was established in 1890 to protect the Giant Sequoia tree species found only in this area of the world. The Giant Sequoia is the largest of all living organisms, but their existence was threatened by logging before the Park was created. Kings Canyon National Park, also home to Sequoia groves and beautiful rocky canyons, was created in 1940. In 1943, the two adjoining Parks were placed under common administration as one large Park.
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ILNP Park Review
In a Word “Majestic”
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” -Psalms 91:1
Our Visit I visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon in April. I had one day off during a trip in central California, so I drove up to , spent the night, and visited both parks the next day.
Our Weather Hazy but beautiful. The valley was in the 80s, the mountains were about 60 degrees.
Overall Impression Sequoia and Kings Canyons are both fabulous and refreshing Parks. The trees are awe-inspiring, and the canyon is majestic and full of life. A day spent here walking in silence among towering giants or hiking along the banks of the vibrant and rushing King River is just plain good for the soul. Whether you stick to the winding roads or hike into the vast back country, you’re surrounded by the beauty of the Sierra Nevadas. While the scenery may not be as breathtaking as Yosemite or Zion, these Parks also lack the crowds of their better known cousins.
Favorite Spot Grant Grove in Kings Canyon
Minimum Time Required About 3 hours. In three hours, you can drive to the Grant Grove Visitors Center, take a short hike among a grove of towering Sequoias and take an out-and-back driving tour of the canyon along the Kings River stopping at Roaring River Falls and Zumwalt Meadow.
A Longer Visit In one full day, you can drive all the main roads in both Parks and do a few short hikes. Starting at the Ash Mountain Entrance on the Southwest side of Sequoia, you can drive up into the mountains. As you climb, the trees begin to change from deciduous to coniferous until you finally reach Giant Forest, your first chance to see Sequoias. The Giant Forest Museum is a worthwhile stop, and you have to see the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest living thing. If you’ve got some time, hike around in this area before moving on. A little ways further is Lodgepole Village where you can get a snack and some souvenirs. There aren’t many stops between here and Grant Grove in Kings Canyon, but the drive is still beautiful and relaxing.
After driving through Sequoia National Forest, stop at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon to take a short but memorable stroll through a thick grove of large Sequoias. After leaving the grove, it’s a good hour to get to the end of the road in Kings Canyon. Most of the drive is outside of the Park, but it’s still fantastic scenery with plenty of views of the canyon below. Once you reach the bottom of the canyon, you’ll be driving along the South Fork of the Kings River, a lively whitewater river. The road follows the river back into the Park where there are several stops before the road ends. Roaring River Falls is a neat area and only a short distance from the road. If you’re feeling up to it, you can hike the 4-mile round trip to Zumwalt Meadow, a beautiful grassy area off the river surrounded by pine trees and sheer gray cliffs. If you don’ t have the energy, you can drive and park closer to the meadow instead of hiking. Either way, take some time to just sit beside the river and reflect for a while before heading home.
Suggestions First of all, don’t rush. Take some time to really think about the massiveness and age of these great trees–what a wonder! If you only go one place to see sequoias, make it Grant Grove in Kings Canyon because it’s the densest grove you can drive to. Unless it’s summer, be sure to take a jacket as the mountains are a good bit cooler than the valley floor.
I didn’t experience any in April, but insects can be a problem, so be prepared with some insect repellent. I’d also suggest taking your own food and water as there are only a few places you can get refreshments once you enter the Parks.
If you want a unique souvenir, the Grant Grove Visitors Center sells real-live Giant Sequoias (in travel-tolerant containers) for a very reasonable price. I had one growing in Colorado for a while. It was only a few inches tall, but every time I looked at it, I thought of the enormous potential it held to someday become the largest living thing in the world.
Stories The Most Helpful Ranger
Nearby Towns Pinehurst, Three Rivers, Lemoncove, Visalia, Fresno (California)
Other Nearby Attractions Yosemite NP
Official NPS Website Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP
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