Kings Canyon National Park

California, United States North America icon North America

Kings Canyon National Park is located just east of the central point in California. It sits adjacent to Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  The park covers an area of 721 square miles (1,869 sq km).

Although its neighboring park is renowned for the largest tree in the world, Kings Canyon is home to the second-largest tree known as the General Grant Tree.  The area features significant groves of the giant sequoias. 

The national park also offers one of the most expansive landscapes with rapid rivers, mountainous backdrops, wildflower blanketed meadows, and of course canyons.

The park is named after Kings Canyon which is carved out of the meandering Kings River.  Like the magnificent sequoias, the canyon is also shared by both national parks. The larger Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness encompasses 768,000 acres (311,000 ha).

There are over 1,200 species of vegetation with the majestic forests serving notice as king of the domain.  Fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, cedar, mountain hemlock, and of course the sequoias, are just some of the towering trees of the forests.  Grant Grove is one of the best places to experience their exquisite nature and the second largest tree in the world.

Along with Kings Canyon, the park is renowned for the steep, rugged, and sometimes vertical reliefs across this part of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  There are several summits topping out over 14,000 feet (4,300 m).  Much of the park has to be experienced by permits and backcountry hiking.

Adventurous hikers can experience views and vistas of the astounding mountain range by trekking some of the passes in the park.  Each of these passes is over 11,000 feet (3,400) providing a birds-eye view of the neighboring summits, gorges, and valleys.  These passes include:

  • Bishop Pass
  • Kearsarge Pass
  • Sawmill Pass
  • Taboose Pass

In addition to the giant sequoias, Kings Canyon, and majestic mountain landscapes, the park is home to wildlife such as black bear, mule deer, lynx, and mountain lion.  There are numerous birds as well to serve the birdwatching crowd.

Kings Canyon Highlights

Kings Canyon National Park represents some of the most magnificent mountains, canyon, and old-growth forest landscapes in the world.

Kings Canyon

Carved by glaciers in the past, Kings Canyon features canyon walls that reach heights of 8,200 feet (2,500 m) making it deeper than the Grand Canyon.  There is about a half-mile (0.8 km) difference in the deepest points.  The majority of the canyon is over a mile (1,600 m) deep.

Grant Grove

Grant Grove is a specific patch of giant sequoia trees.  It is also home to the General Grant Tree which is historically recognized as the second-largest tree in the world.  The grove accounts for 154 acres (62.3 ha) and is a distinct part of the national park.

There are several giant sequoias accessible by a half-mile (0.8 km) loop.  The Robert E. Lee tree is the 11th largest tree in the world, and it is part of the Grant Grove area.

General Grant Tree

The General Grant Tree is traditionally recognized as the second-largest tree in the world.  It is the pinnacle attraction of the Grant Grove area.  It reaches a height of 267.4 feet (81.5 m) and has a volume of 46,608 cubic feet (1,320 cu m).

The circumference of the tree at ground level measures 107.6 feet (32.8 m) around.  President Eisenhower declared the tree a National Shrine as a memorial to those who died in the war.  The circumference of the tree creates the third-largest footprint of any living giant sequoia.

Trails of Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon has miles and miles of endless trails.  Much of the park requires hiking through the backcountry and the adventure is worth the exploration if you truly want to understand the striking nature of the park.

General Grant Tree Trail:  This is an easy half-mile (0.8 km) loop that takes visitors out to see the General Grant tree and some of the other magnificent giants in the area.

Zumwalt Meadow Trail: This is an easy and flat 1.5-mile (2.4 km) loop trail that meanders through the Zumwalt Meadow.  Portions of it are boarded and it features a suspension bridge.  The serene meadows are surrounded by striking granite domes.

Roaring River Falls Trail: this is an easy and short .3-mile (.5 km) trail that travels along the Roaring River to the cascading falls that await.  Because of its easy access and short distance, it is highly trafficked.

Grizzly Falls Trail: This is the shortest trail in the park but one of the most rewarding views. The trail is flat and easy and only travels a distance of 500 feet (152 m).

Redwood Creek Loop Trail: this is a moderate rated loop trail that meanders through one of the largest untouched sequoia forests in the world.  It has an elevation change of 1,100 feet (335 m) but is worth the exploration of the sequoia forest.

Mist Falls Trail: This is a 9-mile (14.5 km) half-day hike that is moderately rated. It is a scenic meandering along granite walls and through serene forests where it ends up along the river and a cascading waterfall. It has an elevation change of 800 feet (243 m).

Kings Canyon Highlights

  • Kings Canyon
  • Grant Grove
  • General Grant Tree
  • Grizzly Falls


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