Located in southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park lie side by side to form “The Land of the Giants”. These two majestic national parks received this very-appropriate nickname due to the significant giant sequoias found there. They are two of the nation’s oldest national parks and include a spectacular range in elevation from warm foothills to cold alpine peaks. Be sure to stay long enough to explore both parks as you don’t want to miss the natural beauty they offer. Take some time to hike a trail, take a wilderness trip, visit a cave, explore the ski and snowshoe trails during the winter, go horseback riding or just take in the scenery. There is plenty to do and see.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park was established in 1890 and includes 404,063 acres of forests, mountains, caves, lakes and canyons. You can also find over 260 wildlife species, including gray fox, black bear, mule deer, quail and woodpecker who call this park home.
The centerpiece of this national treasure is the Giant Forest. The largest trees on earth are found here, including General Sherman, which is the world-record holder for the most massive living thing. Dozens of magnificent groves of sequoias can be seen in just 3 square miles.
Other unforgettable attractions of Sequoia National Park include:
In 1937, due to natural causes, a 275-foot tall and 21-foot in diameter tree fell across a road. A year later, an 8-foot tall, 7-foot wide tunnel was cut through the trunk to make the road passable again.
Moro Rock is a granite dome located in the center of the park. In the 1930’s, a 400-step stairway was cut into and poured onto the rock so visitors could climb to the top.
The only commercial cave in Sequoia National Park, measures just over 3.4 miles. The cave’s temperature remains a constant 48° F and can only be seen by guided tour.
Sequoia National Park includes several campgrounds including 3 in the foothills area and four that are at higher elevations.
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park was established in 1940 and covers 461,901 acres and consists of 2 sections. The smaller, General Grant section includes the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove. This Mountain Grove is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world with 15,800 sequoia trees. This section is accessible by way of paved highways.
The larger section comprises over 90% of the total area of the park and includes the high peaks of the Sierra Crest, deep canyons, and several cave systems.
Some notable attractions of Kings Canyon National Park include:
The deepest gorge in the U.S., Kings Canyon is the namesake of this national park. This canyon is less spoilt by development and therefore very visually rewarding. Accessibility is limited but facilities are concentrated at Cedar Grove which include a visitor center, picnic areas, trailheads and campgrounds.
This gorgeous meadow is the most scenic part of Kings Valley floor and includes views of high granite walls, lavish meadows and the free-flowing Kings River. The meadow is the steepest and most dramatic part of the canyon and includes a 1.5 mile loop that circles the meadow and is one of the most popular trails in the park.
Located halfway between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove sections, Boyden Cavern includes amazing geological formations, a subterranean stream and the famous Bat Grotto. Tours are only offered during the summer months. This cave’s temperature remains a constant 52° F.
The parks are open year round but be sure to check the current conditions for details about weather and roads. Also, check the vehicle length limits and advisories if your vehicle is longer than 22 feet long because of narrow and winding mountain roads.
For an additional look into the beauty of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, be sure to watch this video from our friends at RV Repair Club.