Kings Canyon National Park | Waterfalls, Trees, and Canyons

Kings Canyon National Park | Introduction

Kings Canyon National Park (Kings Canyon National Park) is located in central California, about five and a half hours from San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are redwoods and canyons in the park. Because of its close proximity to theSequoia National ParkThe two parks are adjacent to each other, and are managed together, with roads directly connecting the parks. It is recommended to arrange at least one full day each for King's Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. Together with the time spent driving to the national parks, it is recommended to arrange at least a 4-day and 3-night itinerary.

Sequoia National Park is located in the south and Kings Canyon National Park is located in the north, so they are very suitable to be arranged in the same trip. According to statistics, the number of visitors in Kings Canyon is only half of Sequoia National Park, so it is much quieter to visit Kings Canyon National Park than the busy shuttle buses in Sequoia National Park. King Canyon National Park has no in-park transportation, so you need to drive to and from the park. For example, you can take Highway 198 into Sequoia National Park and Highway 180 out of King Canyon National Park. If you are interested in Sequoia National Park, please refer to the previous article.Sequoia National Park Itinerary.

Kings Canyon National Park has two main attraction areas, Grant Grove and Cedar Grove, but if you're just here for a day or two, not backcountry, and want to see a different canyon than Sequoia National Park, you must visit the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, which is only open in the summer months, so the best time to visit Kings Canyon is in the summer. Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is only open in summer, so the ideal time to visit Kings Canyon is in summer.

Kings Canyon National Park | Lodging

Within The Park

King's Canyon National Park offers lodging options at both Grant Grove Village, with John Muir Lodge and Grant Grove Cabins, and Cedar Grove Village, with Cedar Grove Lodge. Grove Lodge in Cedar Grove Village and Cedar Grove Lodge in Cedar Grove Village.WebsiteBook on.

Camping is also available in Grant Grove at Azalea Campground, Crystal Springs Campground and Sunset Campground, and in Cedar Grove at Sentinel Campground, Canyon View Campground, Moraine Campground and Sheep Creek Campground. Cedar Grove has Sentinel Campground, Canyon View Campground, Moraine Campground, and Sheep Creek Campground, for more information go toNational Parks WebsiteAsked above.

Camping in the Park | Sentinel Campground

  • Camp Comfort: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Space: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Facility Cleanliness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Convenience: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We booked Sentinel Campground in Cedar Grove, which is a very large campground in the middle of the woods, we could fit 5 tents in one campsite without any problem, and the terrain is very flat. It is very close to Cedar Grove Visitor Center, and you can buy food nearby, so it is quite convenient. There is a river near the campground, so even if you don't live near the river, you can still park your car near the overflow parking to play in the water, which is quite suitable for families to come camping.

Off-site Accommodation

There are many choices for lodging in the park, but they are all very popular, so be sure to plan ahead if it's a weekend or a holiday. If you can't stay close to the park, the easiest place to stay is Fresno, the largest town outside the west entrance, which is about an hour's drive from the Grant Grove Visitor Center to the west.

Stay in Fresno

Kings Canyon National Park | Attractions & Trails

For directions to King's Canyon National Park, please refer to the National Park's website.MapThe park is located along Highway 180 at the western entrance to the park. Take Highway 180 from the west entrance to the park and you'll first reach Grant Grove. The two areas are connected by the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, a major scenic byway with many worthwhile stops along the way. If you're coming from Sequoia National Park or planning to drive south to Sequoia National Park, Grant Grove is connected to Sequoia National Park by the Generals Highway, which also passes through beautiful trails and attractions along the way.

We entered Kings Canyon National Park from Sequoia National Park, so we drove north on Generals Highway to Grant Grove, then east on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to Cedar Grove, and we divided the attractions and trails into four parts.

Scenic Roads | Generals Highway

Attractions | Lost Grove

Driving from south to north on the Generals Highway, the first place you'll pass is Lost Grove, no need to climb the hill, just a big tree next to it, so you can come down and rest your feet.

Trails | Buena Vista Trail

Buena Vista is a 1 mile, moderately difficult trail that is not very well known, and you can't even find it on the National Park map. It is located quite close to the Quail Flat Trail, which is actually a very beautiful trail. From here we started to feel that King's Canyon is a little bit like Yosemite. If you are driving from Sequoia National Park, after seeing so many trees, the blue sky, white clouds and rocks are very refreshing.

When we climbed up to the top, there were clouds and mist, and it was only windy for a short while, so we could see the redwood forest and Kings Canyon valley below, but we could also feel the spectacular view from the top of the mountain. The overall trail is quite gentle, and I recommend it if you have time.

Viewpoints | Kings Canyon Overlook

If you don't have time to walk the trail, there is actually Kings Canyon Overlook across Buena Vista Trail, although I think Buena Vista has a better view, you can still see Kings Canyon from here.

Viewpoints | Redwood Mountain Overlook

Redwood Mountain Overlook is another viewpoint on General Highways that I think is worth stopping to see. The terrain is a little lower, less likely to be blocked by clouds, and the light from the valley view is usually quite beautiful.

Attractions| Grand Grove Village

Visitor Centers | Kings Canyon Visitor Centor

The first stop in Grand Grove Village is the Visitor Center, if you are coming from the west entrance of the park, this will be the first visitor center that we will encounter. In the visitor center, there is a King's Canyon National Park introduction video, most of the video is about backcountry, King's Canyon is actually a favorite spot for backpackers, and the number of backpackers in backcountry is so many that you need to make a reservation. In fact, King's Canyon is very suitable for long distance hiking, many people come here for backcountry camping, such as walking from Road's end for two days to see the lake, High Sierra Trail all the way to Yosemite, or even go farther to Canada, but of course, these routes are not useful for one-day tourists.

Attractions | Big Stump

Big Stump is a Mark Twain tree that was cut down over 100 years ago. The tree was originally the largest in the nearby redwood forest, with a root diameter of 300ft, several times larger than the largest General Grant Tree in the current King's Canyon National Park. The tree was cut down before the establishment of the National Park, and now only the roots remain. We climbed to the remaining roots and stood on it, we realized how huge this tree is. Big Stump Trail is actually quite long, if you want to save a few steps, you can take the shortcut in front of the National Park entrance, and after passing the toll booth at the West Entrance, you can park directly on the right hand side, and there is an inconspicuous entrance on the opposite side, cross the road and walk a couple of steps, you can see the Big Stump.

Panoramic Point

Panoramic Point can be reached by taking a short 0.4 mile loop trail. The trailhead is a short drive from the back road behind John Muir Lodge, the parking lot is very small and popular, and you can see the lake and the U-valley, the view is very beautiful.

Must-see Trail | Great Grand Tree Trail

When you come to King's Canyon National Park, you can't miss the Great Grant Tree Trail, which is a very easy walk, only 0.5 mile long. From the entrance, you can see a large area of spectacular fir forests, not inferior to the Sequoia National Park, which is characterized by the theme of redwoods.

The trail passes through Fallen Monarch, a tunnel made of fallen tree trunks, which is quite interesting.

General Grant Tree is the third largest tree in the world, named after the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, with a root diameter of 40 feet. 1,700 years old, it is said that in the first 600 years of its life, the tree would try to grow taller before it started to grow thicker, that is to say, it grew 268 feet tall and then took 1,100 years to grow to its present size. After growing 268 feet tall, it took another 1,100 years to grow to its current size. The Great Grant Tree was once burned by fire, and while the front of the tree looks unscathed, if you walk behind the tree, you can see the traces of the fire.

Near Grant Tree, you can see the Gamlin Cabin, a log cabin built in 1872. The cabin was first built by a man named Israel Gamlin, who originally wanted to log the area, but later, when the national park was established, the surrounding forest was protected and the cabin was turned into a park store.

Speaking of logging, although we can still see many trees, in fact, many large trees were cut down by loggers a hundred years ago, and we can see the historical traces of logging just on this trail. For example, the Centennial Stump was cut down in 1875 and sent to Philadelphia for an exhibition. Why was it exhibited? It is said that the East Coasters at that time did not believe that there were such big trees in California, so in order to prove their existence, they had to cut them down, which is really simple and rough thinking of the past. The biggest tree that was cut down in the past is the Mark Twain tree that we saw in Big Stump.

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Centennial Stump

Scenic Byway | Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway connects Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. For day-trippers, the Byway itself should be considered as the main scenic area, from the redwood forests at an elevation of more than 4,000 meters vertically down to the river valley side at an elevation of 400 meters, you can see all the beautiful scenery from the car. Along the way, follow King's river downstream, there are many scenic spots and more nameless pull out can stop to appreciate the King's Canyon. It's about 50 miles to Road's end on the east side, which is about an hour's drive each way.

Viewpoints | Junction View

Junction View is the first viewpoint where you can see the river valley clearly, looking over the rolling hills, the highest peak is Spanish Mountain, King's Canyon is an ancient glacier cut out of the glacier valley, the bottom of the King's River flowed through, and cut out a deep and narrow vertical valley.

Viewpoint | Yucca Point Overlook

Yucca Point Overlook is my favorite viewpoint on this road, and the view of King's River is quite clear.

Attractions | Boyden Cavern

At the bottom of the river valley, there is another stalactite cave system called Boyden Cavern Cave, and if you are interested in caving, you can join the paid guided tour. time is limited, we didn't go in to see the caves, instead, we ran up to the Boyden Cavern and had a picnic by the creek here.

Attractions | Grizzly Falls

Grizzly Falls is a spectacular waterfall. Because it is so close to the road, it is easy to get close to, and it is also the most popular waterfall in King's Canyon. It is labeled as a picnic area on the map, so we wanted to have a picnic here, but there were too many tourists who like waterfalls, so it was not suitable for us at all.

Attractions | Cedar Grove

Visitor center | Cedar Grove Visitor center

After descending into the river valley, we came to Cedar Grove Visitor Center, which is a small visitor center nestled amongst the trees.

Trails | Don Cecil trail

From the Overflow parking near the visitor center, you can find the trailhead of Don Cecil Trail, which is actually a very long trail, so it is recommended to walk 0.8 mile to the cascade. This trail allows you to see small waterfalls, mountain ranges and forests, with a beautiful view of the mountains.

Viewpoint | Canyon Viewpoint

Walking to the bottom of the canyon, Canyon Viewpoint is a roadside viewpoint, from which we can see the King's Canyon from a different angle, from the lower part of the canyon.

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Location | Knapp's Cabin

Continuing east, you'll pass Knapp's Cabin, a 1925 cabin with a great view. The cabin was originally built by Knapp to store his belongings while he was camping, so the interior is very sunny. In fact, Knapp only used it for three years, after which he stopped camping here. However, it's a comfortable life to camp next to the cabin with a view of the forest and the valley.

Attractions | Roaring River Fall

Roaring River Fall is one of the three major waterfalls in King's Canyon. It takes about three minutes to walk there by river trail. If you prefer to take a trail, River trail and Zumwalt Meadow can be combined into a 3.9 mile trail. The waterfall itself doesn't look too big, but in the spring and early summer, the river roars and roars.

Must-see Trails | Zumwalt Meadow Trail

Zumwalt Meadow Trail was originally a 1.3-mile loop trail, but unfortunately due to flooding, part of the original trail was damaged, and it is now impossible to finish the trail, so you can only walk 0.8 mile one-way and then return to the starting point along the original path. There is a part of the trail where you have to climb over marble, so it is not suitable for those who are not physically fit. However, the scenery of Zumwalt Meadow is very beautiful, and I personally think it is one of the most worthwhile scenic spots in Cedar Grove for those who don't plan to hike long distance.

Because it is not easy to walk here nowadays, the number of tourists seems to be very low. Sitting by the river at the end of the walk, I felt like I had a whole meadow to myself.

Trail | Road's End

Road's End is the easternmost end of the road, here, the car can go to the end of the road, and then is the favorite part of backpackers. There are many trailheads around, most of which are backcountry trails, and the only way to explore King's Canyon in depth is to walk on your own two feet with your own gear.

If you want to try the backcountry feeling, but don't have the physical and mental preparation for backcountry, you can go to the Mist Trail, which is said to be a good way to get the feeling of climbing a backcountry trail. If you walk to the bottom of Mist Falls, the total length is 8 miles, Mist Falls is the biggest waterfall in King's Canyon, it is quite spectacular. Mist Falls is the biggest waterfall in King's Canyon, it is quite spectacular. We only walked a little bit because we didn't have enough time.

There is also a Muir Rock picnic area next to Road's End, which is actually a comfortable place to sit on the boulders and watch the river.

Further reading

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