You are not in the mountains, the mountains are in you.John Muir
About the Park
Kings Canyon National Park is next to Sequoia National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It has enormous sequoia trees, including the giant General Grant Tree, and towering granite canyon walls surrounding the valley. Exploring this park is an excellent opportunity to combine a visit with Sequoia.
Check out the view of the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- See the General Grant, the second largest tree in the world
- Take the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, which is 50 miles long. Note: It is a very windy road and only open from mid-May to mid-October
- Stop at the Kings Canyon Panoramic Point for amazing views of the canyon
- See the heart of Kings Canyon from Zumwalt Meadows for views of the mountains above you
- Stop by Grizzly Falls near Cedar Grove
- Visit Sequoia National Park as well, since they are adjacent parks
We combined a trip up in the mountains of California to see Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The highlight of the park for us was seeing the incredible General Grant Tree in Grant Grove. This astonishing living thing is the second largest tree in the world. Annie rode in her backpack and liked seeing the big trees, too!
Size of Park
The General Grant tree is also known as the ”Nation’s Christmas Tree”
Kings Canyon National Park is located near Sequoia National Park in Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. It was created to preserve a small area of giant sequoias and protect them from logging. Today, the park has the world’s largest remaining grove of sequoia trees, out of which the General Grant Tree is the most notable due to its enormous size.
Kings Canyon’s swift-flowing rivers, cascading waterfalls, high mountain meadows, and glacial valleys make it a popular tourist destination. Apart from its magnificent landscape, Kings Canyon is also home to various wildlife, including bears, rattlesnakes, and cougars.
Best Kings Canyon Hikes
Being one of the most popular day hikes in the national park, the Mist Falls Trail roughly climbs 600 feet up to Mist Falls. The trail is almost nine miles long and provides breathtaking views of King Canyon’s granite walls, further surrounded by pine forests. However, before you reach your destination, you will also pass through shaded woods and sandy exposed areas!
General Grant Trail
General Grant Trail is less than a mile long and is located inside the Grant Grove Village area. The trail gets its name from the General Grant Tree, which hikers will pass along the way. The trail begins from the General Grant Tree parking area and loops past the historic Gamlin Cabin, the Fallen Monarch, and the famous General Grant Tree. The General Grant Tree is almost 1,650 years old. This is one of the best shorter hikes in Kings Canyon.
Big Baldy Ridge Trail
This trail is six miles long. Experienced hikers can complete this trail in 2 hours before they reach the summit of Big Baldy. The peak offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape, where you can overlook both Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. During early summer, the path is decorated with lots of wildflowers!
Rae Lakes Loop Trail
This trail is more suitable for people interested in backpacking as it is 39 miles long and takes 3 to 4 days to complete. Hikers on this trail travel to Paradise Valley and alpine lakes. Parts of Rae Lakes Loop merge with John Muir Trail and Trail Pacific Crest Trail.
Most backpackers recommend hiking the trail clockwise, where you will head to Mist Falls before reaching Paradise Valley. This route’s elevation is also spread out.
Zumwalt Meadow Trail
This is another easy Kings Canyon hike that only takes 45 minutes to complete. Before the flooding in 2019, the trail used to loop through the Zumwalt Meadow. However, today, the trail follows the river over a suspension bridge, from where you can see both the river and the grassy meadow. This is also a popular trail because of its magnificent sunset views!
Camping in the Park
Kings Canyon National Park is a popular place for camping, which is why it has seven campgrounds. Grant Grove Village in the park has three campgrounds; Azalea Campground, Sunset Campground, and Crystal Springs Campground. Cedar Grove Village contains four campgrounds; Canyon View Campground, Sentinel Campground, Sheep Creek Campground, and Moraine Campground. Azalea Campground is the only one that is open year-round, while the rest of the campgrounds are available between spring and fall and close in winter.
Sunset Campground is the largest campground in the park and has more than 150 individual sites and 2 group sites. Many tourists consider it the perfect spot to kickstart your trip to the park. The campground is booked on a first-come, first-served basis, and due to its large size, we hear tourists can almost always find an empty slot!
Located along the Kings River, this campground provides lovely vistas to explore. Even though it is the smallest campground in Cedar Grove, it still offers 82 camping sites where campers can easily access trails, including Canyon View Trail. Amenities in the campground include fire rings, picnic tables, flush toilets, coin-operated showers, and food storage boxes.
Sheep Creek Campground
This campground has 111 camping sites that can be booked on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, campers can access showers, laundry, and groceries at Cedar Grove Village, which is only a quarter mile away. The large campsites are nestled among the trees, making this campground a favorite of many tourists!
If you want lots of facilities during camping, this is the campground for you! Spread out amongst the evergreen trees, these campsites are usually preferred by families. Additionally, you will find both sunny and shaded campsites here.
California has plenty of camping sites near Kings Canyon National Park. In addition, you will find many reasonable campgrounds if you prefer to camp outside the park. Some campgrounds near Kings Canyon include Convict Flat Campground, Hume Lake Campground, Camp Hye Sierra, and Trapper Springs Campground.
Grant Grove Village
Grant Grove Village offers services and amenities to enhance the tourists’ experience in Kings Canyon. There is a visitor center along with cabins, a lodge, a restaurant, and a market. Visitors here have plenty to do as they also have access to groceries and other supplies.
General Grant Tree
Not only is the General Grant tree the largest giant sequoia in Kings Canyon, but it is also the second-largest sequoia tree in the world. This 267 feet tall tree has an ancient history as it is more than 1600 years old at least. The tree was named in the 1860s to honor a civil war general, U.S. Grant. In the 1920s, the tree was also called the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” as it was considered the largest tree in the world at the time. Moreover, the tree has also been declared a “national shrine.”
This cave is located beneath the marble walls of Windy Cliffs and Kings Gate and is made up of stalactites, flowstone, and stalagmites. The walk up to the cavern entrance is steep and lies 125 feet above the river. As you walk up to the cavern, you will be able to look at some of the greatest scenic views in the area.
Visitors can go on a 50-minute tour inside the cavern. Some of the must-see rock formations in the cavern include “The Wedding Cake,” “The Upside-Down City,” and “The Christmas Tree.”
This is the most scenic part of the valley floor in Kings Canyon. Here, the valley’s woods are more green and lush than the rest of the park. Zumwalt Meadow is located at the steepest and most dramatic area of the canyon, between tall granite cliffs. It is safe to say that the meadow does not disappoint its visitors!
Click on the button to explore the state and travel guides for the area.
Getting to the Park
The closest airports to Kings Canyon National Park are Fresno Yosemite International Airport (75 minutes from park entrance) and Visalia Municipal Airport (90 minutes from park entrance). There is a park shuttle bus that connects with Sequoia National Park, but a rental car or diving is likely the best option.
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