MapsKings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
, Cedar Grove
, Grant Grove
Kings Canyon is similar to Yosemite
National Parks as the central attraction is a deep valley accessible from one end only, surrounded by huge areas of back-country that most people never visit. The canyon is not quite as immediately spectacular as these more famous destinations, but it is much less spoilt by development and very rewarding for the traveler who wants to do a little more than just drive along a road and stop at viewpoints. Vehicular access is even more limited than Yosemite as the dead-end canyon approach drive is the only road of any kind within the 462,000 acres of the park and so extended hiking is the only way to visit the wilderness areas.
The centerpiece of the national park is Kings Canyon
, formed by the South Fork of the Kings River - this is the deepest gorge in the US, although most lies outside the park to the west and forms the boundary between the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests. The steepest section has a drop of 8,000 feet, from Spanish Mountain at the north side of the canyon to the river, but there are no roads or even paths into this region. The lower, less steep western end may be reached by paved roads around Pine Flat Reservoir, 15 miles away in the western Sierra Nevada foothills, but most people come to visit the east section, accessed by the steep, winding and very scenic Highway 180. Facilities are concentrated at Cedar Grove
, and include a visitor center, picnic areas, trailheads and several campgrounds. The giant sequoia are found in a smaller, detached, more easily reached section of the national park to the west (Grant Grove
), bordering Sequoia National Park; besides the trees, the park road in this region also passes several viewpoints, three campgrounds and plenty more footpaths.
The Pacific Crest Trail
passes through the national park close to the eastern border, part of a continuous 2,640 mile footpath from Canada to Mexico, and the mountains are crossed by many other backcountry trails, which start from the main visitor center area at Cedar Grove, or outside the park - from the west in the Sierra National Forest and from Owens Valley in the east. For day hikes there are around 20 trails, centered on Grant Grove
in the west section of the park and Cedar Grove/Kings River
in the east.
(73 miles) - distances from the CA 180-245 road junction near Grant Grove.