Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Sights to See

Kings Canyon national park is a masterpiece created by nature. Here you can marvel at the wild Kings River. The following are just a few of the many sights to see in the park.

Big Stump Trail

Near the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park, three miles southwest of Grant Grove Village, is Big Stump Basin Trail. The one-mile loop trail reveals the remains of early logging. The Mark Twain Stump is all that's left of the 26-foot-wide, 1,700-year-old tree that took two men 13 days to cut down in 1891. Also, because sequoia wood decays slowly, piles of sawdust created more than a century ago still remain.

Grant Grove and the General Grant Tree

Grant Grove is one mile beyond the Kings Canyon Visitor Center on the west side of the road. From the parking area, a 0.5-mile loop trail leads to the General Grant Tree. The tree, which measures 267.4 feet tall and 107.6 feet around, was discovered by Joseph Hardin Thomas in 1862 and named by Lucretia P. Baker in 1867 to honor Ulysses S. Grant. While still a youngster at 1,800 to 2,000 years old, the beautiful behemoth is the star attraction of a grove of 2,000- and 3,000-year-old sequoias, including the 254.7-foot-tall Robert E. Lee. The General Grant is called "The Nation's Christmas Tree," and special Yuletide celebrations are held under its snow-laden branches every year.

Panoramic Point

At Grant Grove Village, you can take a narrow, steep, 2.3-mile road that snakes east to Panoramic Point. From the parking area, take the 0.25-mile trail to the 7,520-foot-high ridge. The view takes in a magnificent stretch of the High Sierra. You can see Hume Lake in Sequoia National Forest and, just beyond a low ridge behind the lake, Kings Canyon. No RVs or trailers are permitted.

Kings Canyon and the Kings River

"A rival to the Yosemite," wrote Muir, describing the glacial canyon, the south fork of the mighty Kings River. It is an awesome sight to behold the white water of this wild river as it rushes between the granite canyon walls. You enter the canyon of the Kings River at Horseshoe Bend, just before reaching Boyden Cave, on the 30-mile drive from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove, which lies in the heart of Kings Canyon. The road is closed from November to April.

The deepest part of Kings River canyon is not in the park, but in Sequoia National Forest. At one spot above the South Fork of the Kings River, the granite cliffs rise more than 8,000 feet from river to ridge. Many visitors are surprised to learn that this river-carved section of the valley is thousands of feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. To reach this area which lies at the base of 10,051-foot Spanish Mountain, stop at Yucca Point, 15 miles northeast of Grant Grove on Highway 180. From here, take marked Trail #28E01 and hike for one mile northwest down a steep and winding path. The hike is arduous, so take water. When you reach the confluence of the South and Middle forks of the Kings River, you are at the deepest part of the canyon. Note: Watch for poison oak and snakes.

Boyden Cave

You can't miss the entrance to this cave, found where Highway 180 crosses the South Fork of the Kings River. Located 10 miles short of Cedar Grove, the cave is in neighboring Sequoia National Forest. Daily tours are conducted during summer; call (209) 736-2708 for more information.

Cedar Grove/Kings Canyon

Highway 180 ends 40 miles from the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park in the famous Kings Canyon itself. Cedar Grove, nestled in a mile-deep section of Kings Canyon, is near two spectacular granite formations: Grand Sentinel at 8,518 feet in elevation and North Dome at 8,717 feet in elevation. The precipitous Grand Sentinel rises 3,500 feet above the canyon floor.

The best place to see these features is on the Zumwalt Meadow Nature Trail.