Kings Canyon National Park
Located: California - Established: March 4, 1940
The Park: King’s Canyon is noted for having two distinctively different features – very big trees and a very deep canyon! The immense size of the giant sequoias in Kings Canyon National Park is something that cannot fully be appreciated without standing beside one! Photographs of these giants do not do them justice!
Sequoias grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They grow up to 300 feet tall. It is estimated they live to be 1800 to 3000 years old. These mighty trees produce a pinecone the size of an egg and a seed that resembles an oat flake.
For the tree to reproduce, it takes the intense heat of a forest fire to release the seed from the pinecone!
Subsequently, forest fires have become known as an intrigal part of the forest ecosystem. To maintain the health of the park’s natural character and to prevent catastrophic fires, the Park Service periodically uses “prescribed burns” to help clear underbrush and help sequoia seeds reach fertile soil.
The 3,000-year-old General Grant Tree is the park’s main attraction and is the third largest tree in the world. It is the only living thing officially designated by Congress as a national shrine dedicated as a memorial to the men and women who have given their lives serving our country.
Deep Canyon! The south fork of the Kings River and the effects of past glacial activity combined to carve an 8200-foot deep canyon from which the park earned its name. Kings Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in America.
John Muir once claimed Kings Canyon rivaled Yosemite for beauty and stature. Quite a strong statement from the man who had such a solid bond with Yosemite!
Getting there: The Big Stump Entrance of Kings Canyon is located 52 miles east of Fresno, CA via Hwy 180.
When to visit: The park is open year round; however, winter conditions will close some of the roads.
What to do: Besides being astounded by the sheer magnitude of the giant trees, there is plenty to do in Kings Canyon. The park has numerous day hiking trails that will provide you with staggering natural beauty and lasting memories of the world’s largest living things!
The scenic drive out to the end of Hwy 180 (Kings Canyon Scenic Byway) will give you a view of the very deep canyon as it follows the Kings River. Stop along the river and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Where to stay: Between the Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks there are 14 established campgrounds with over 1200 developed campsites.
As for lodging within the park boundaries, the John Muir, Grant Grove and Cedar Grove Lodges are located in Kings Canyon. The 102-room Wuksachi Lodge is located at nearby Sequoia National Park.
Memorable moment: Picnicking along the Kings River.
Trivia: Walter Fry spent five days with five men chopping down a single sequoia tree. After counting the rings on the fallen tree, he discovered he and his crew had just chopped down a 3266-year old giant. This discovery shocked Fry into changing careers. In 1912, he became the Park Superintendent for Kings Canyon!
Banner: Looking down at the Kings River from above the canyon walls.
Experience these Check List:
- Stop by the park's several Visitor and Information Centers
- Drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to road’s end
- Stand in awe of the General Grant Tree
- Picnic along the Kings River