Kings Canyon National Park

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Henry David Thoreau

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Kings Canyon  001By now it’s pretty obvious that we love the national parks.  So while visiting Sequoia National Park we planned to also visit Kings Canyon National Park, as the two are contiguous and administered jointly.Kings Canyon  003

Kings Canyon National Park is a massive park that protects a total of 461,901 acres.  But the road into Kings Canyon was still partially closed while being cleared of rocks and debris that fell during winter.  So we had to alter our plans.Kings Canyon  021

Kings Canyon  049Kings Canyon  002Kings Canyon  023Fortunately the Grant Grove, the grove in Kings Canyon National Park that contains the world’s second largest tree, was still accessible.  And, since we’d just seen the world’s largest tree we had to see the second largest as well.

So we planned to make a day of it driving out to the Grant Grove and then as much of the rest of the road as was open.  We figured that the drive on the part of the road that was open would be scenic.   With a little mystery since we didn’t know what exactly we’d see.

But it would also be a long drive, since our campsite was near the entrance to Sequoia, not Kings Canyon.  A hint for future visitors is that the entrance from Fresno is much closer to Kings Canyon.

The day of our visit was a cool day, so we took Angel along, knowing that she’d spend a brief period in the car while we walked to the General Grant Tree, since it was pretty close to the road.

As we entered the path, I ran across a man with a beautiful parrot, which I of course had to hold.  He said something about her being Queen of a Galaxy far away…  All righty then.

Kings Canyon  011Kings Canyon  012Onward to the mighty General Grant Tree.  It is the second largest tree in the world based on its total trunk volume.  The tree is 267.4 feet high, has a circumference of 107.6 foot at the ground (wider than the General Sherman Tree).  Its trunk has a total volume of 46,408 cubic feet.  It would take 20 people holding hands to complete the circle around the base.Kings Canyon  013Kings Canyon  004Kings Canyon  010Kings Canyon  007

Brenda inside the Fallen Monarch

Brenda inside the Fallen Monarch


Because of its wider circumference at the base, the General Grant tree was thought to be the largest tree in the world and President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” in 1928.  In 1931, when the first precise measurements were taken they discovered that the General Sherman Tree was slightly larger.

But, even more interestingly, the General Grant Tree is the only living object to be declared a national shrine.  This was declared by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 in living memory for those who had given their lives for their country.

These trees were so unexpectedly large that when a section of a cut tree that had a 24-foot diameter, named the Centennial Stump, was sent to the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition of 1876, Eastern people refused to accept it as part of a single tree and called it a California hoax.

And Sequoias are also extremely resilient.  There is a photo of a troop of men and their horses in front of a fallen giant named the Fallen Monarch taken in 1900.  The cavalry kept their horses in the hollow log, and early construction crews camped in beds inside the tree.

We saw and walked through the Fallen Monarch and it looks much the same as it did in the photograph.   Sequoias endure hundreds or even thousands of years on the forest floor.  And they must have many stories to tell.Kings Canyon  009

Kings Canyon  043It’s hard to think that these trees are not all there is to see in the park, but as we continued our drive into Kings Canyon, we found much more.  As the road climbed beyond the altitude where the Sequoias thrive, the magnificient trees were replaced by views of glacial gorges, granite cliffs, mountain meadows, and rivers.

Kings Canyon itself, with a maximum depth of 8,200 feet, is one of the deepest canyons in the U.S.  It is said that for a short distance it is indeed the deepest canyon in the U.S.  But the road was closed way before we could reach it.Kings Canyon  022

Kings Canyon  025Along the way we discovered some cool remnants of days gone by, some of which are apparently still in use.  The whole area had a 1950s feel to it.Kings Canyon  027Kings Canyon  026Kings Canyon  024Kings Canyon  019

Kings Canyon  020Kings Canyon  028Hector had been feeling much better on our last couple of days in the area.  He wasn’t having any more coughing attacks at night, and just had a very slight occasional cough during the day.  And we’d saved a short climb for the end figuring he’d be feeling better.

So back in Sequoia National Park on our last day, we climbed Moro Rock.  This is actually an easy climb which almost anyone should be able to handle.

Kings Canyon  048Kings Canyon  029There are 400 steps to the top on a stone stairway. The stairway is impressive, it was cut directly into and poured onto the rock, blending with the natural resources and following natural ledges and crevices.Kings Canyon  037

Kings Canyon  032Kings Canyon  030In fact, the stairway was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 for both its design and the quality of its workmanship.  It was designed by the National Park Service and built by the Civilian Core of Engineers in the 1930s after the first stairway, which was made of wood, deteriorated.

With metal railings and large jagged rocks acting as barriers to the edge, it’s accessible even (maybe) for people that are afraid of heights.  We had fun watching a few folks tentatively taking the last steps to the edge at the top and getting photos capturing their adventure.Kings Canyon  040Kings Canyon  036

Kings Canyon  035Moro Rock, a granite dome formation also offers 1,000 vertical feet for rock climbers, however, this was peregrine falcon nesting season and not open for the climbers.Kings Canyon  031

There are expansive views at the top of the Great Western Divide.  Alas, we didn’t see any peregrine falcons.Kings Canyon  038

Kings Canyon  039Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are both stunning.  And, incredibly, they don’t get as many visitors as many of the other national parks.  And with less people around, they do feel a little more wild.Kings Canyon  046Kings Canyon  044Kings Canyon  045

Kings Canyon  017And we know that there is so much more to see in Kings Canyon National Park.  Our list of “must return to” is getting kind of long.

~ BrendaKings Canyon  018

20 thoughts on “Kings Canyon National Park

  1. Too bad that road in Kings Canyon was closed. These 2 NP’s are high on my list partly because they are less crowded. Stunning views, magnificent trees, and beautiful photos….glad Hector is feeling better 🙂

    • Welcome to our blog. They are beautiful parks. The photos are taken by my husband, Hector, thanks!

  2. Wow, wow, wow!!! Those trees are just amazing, and indeed what stories they must have to tell. Awesome! The 50s flavoring and the beautiful flowers sure added so much character to your story. I loved the photos of Angel; what a sweet beautiful energy she has. And her napping was precious.

    Loved the photo of you two looking up at those amazing trees, too. It shared such a sense of awe. Hector, the use of light in your work is absolutely incredible. And Brenda, your recounts sure help me feel that I’m traveling right alongside you two. You sure do make a wonderful pair of creatives!!! Thank you both sooo much!!!


    • Angel is such a good sport and she does have a beautiful energy. I agree with you about Hector’s photos 🙂 and appreciate your wonderful compliment. We definitely are a good team!

  3. What a shame, I am one of those that went straight to Yosemite or Sequoia and overlooked Kings Canyon. Now a good reason for us to go back to CA and see the places we missed.
    Glad Hector is getting better and of course love all the shots.

    • The same happened to us until now. Sometimes the closer places are the ones you don’t get to, plus California has so much to see.

  4. There aren’t enough words to describe what you saw. Hector’s photos are breathtaking. We were a little too far away to make the drive there in one day. Most definitely we will have to make sure we get to Kings Canyon next year. Thanks so much for sharing so many gorgeous photos. I loved following along.

    • I think I mentioned that Fresno is a better jumping off point for Kings Canyon. We’ll need to get back also.

  5. I never tire of seeing and hearing informtion about the fabulous Sequoias or the parks. These were particularly beautiful with the variety.
    Glad you shared, thanks!

  6. SPECTACULAR photography!!!! The National Parks are the BEST!!! Amazing how the trees just dwarf you. Glad to see you both and Angel are all well and carrying on again. 7″ of snow and 30 here in Denver this AM… Happy trails!! xo

    • What is going on in Denver? Snow after Mother’s Day is so strange. We are just loving the National Parks and all well, thank you. Hope nice weather finds you soon.

  7. Hector and Brenda, I was looking through the Google ether in search of my own site and stumbled upon yours. I have just returned from a year-long journey through the US National Parks so seeing your photos on Sequoia/Kings Canyon brought back many great memories of my own. I look forward to eventually posting my own pictures once I get caught up. I hope you follow along on my site and let The Walkabout live on.

    Fellow Walkabouter

    • Welcome to our blog, fellow walkabouter! We love the national parks, both U.S. and Canada, and just visited six of them this summer (two more blog posts coming soon). We’ll definitely follow along on your site as well, looks like a beautiful journey.

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