Kings Canyon National Park
Photo © NPS
Vast canyons with stunning granite cliffs, the largest remaining sequoia grove in the world, and hundreds of miles of pristine alpine wilderness—Kings Canyon National Park offers visitors remote seclusion coupled with access to convenient amenities. In the mid-level conifer forests, miles and miles of trails—including the paved General Grant Tree Trail with wheelchair accessibility—invite visitors to immerse themselves in the majesty of the ancient groves. Grant Grove also offers a fascinating glimpse into the effects of historic logging in the area, as well as the benefits of sequoia preservation. Cedar Grove in the massive Kings Canyon features towering cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, and the powerful South Fork of the Kings River. Almost 96% of the park is managed as wilderness, but can be accessed via a network of well-maintained scenic trails.
If you are preparing a trip to Kings Canyon National Parks, plan ahead for a great variety of conditions. Extreme variations in elevation and topography from region to region mean it is possible for it to be hot and dry in one area at the same time that snow is falling or present on the ground in another area. There are four distinct seasons and several unique regions.
During your visit, you can choose among the Grant Grove (home to giant sequoias), Cedar Grove in the Kings Canyon (at the end of the breathtaking Kings Canyon Scenic Byway), or the sublime High Sierra wilderness. The Cedar Grove region is accessible only in the summer. Each season and region offers different activities, facilities, and features.
Best Starting Points: Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park on the northwest side or the foothills on the southwest side of Sequoia National Park. (Please note: If you enter through Sequoia National Park, you will need to drive another hour to reach giant sequoia groves.)
There are many recreational activities available at the parks, including ranger-led walks, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, sledding, etc.
Hiking Trails: The park offers hikers over hundreds of miles of maintained trails. Some, such as the paved General Grant Tree Trail are wheelchair accessible. Trail elevations vary from 6,600 feet in the foothills to over 14,000 on the Sierra Nevada crest.
Camping: The parks offer numerous campgrounds in two unique areas of the park. Campgrounds in the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove areas offer easy access to amenities. There are no RV hook-ups in the parks. Be aware of length advisories and restrictions at certain campgrounds. (For example, until May 2012, there a 22-foot length restriction on the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park between Potwisha and Giant Forest. RVs wishing to enter the park need to enter through Kings Canyon National Park off of Highway 180.)
Two highways provide access to the Parks. Highway 180 enters Kings Canyon National Park from the northwest via Fresno, California. Highway 198 enters Sequoia National Park from the southwest via Three Rivers, California. There are no roads in the parks that cross to the east side of the Sierra Nevada, nor are there any roads that enter the parks from the east. You can visit both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks all year—although some areas are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May because of snow and ice. GPS and route-finding units do not often give accurate directions in this area. Double-check your route using the park map available on the web (nps.gov/seki) and road signs. For more information, contact the parks at (559) 565-3341, Fax (559) 565-3730.
Fees: Entrance for 1-7 days costs $20 per vehicle (private, non-commercial) or $10 per person on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, or in a bus. Inquire about annual passes if you wish to visit the parks regularly.
Many exhibits, as well as some campsites and trails, are accessible. For more information, visit the park website or contact the parks.
Pets are not permitted on any trails within Kings Canyon National Park, but are allowed 100 feet from roads in developed areas (picnic areas, campgrounds, and roads). Where allowed, pets must be on leashes no longer than 6 feet in length. Never leave pets in cars when it is warm, or they overheat quickly. Pets must not be left unattended in the parking area or in vehicles.