We left Fresno this morning and headed for Kings Canyon National Park. Kings Canyon is really two parks in one: One part is home to many large sequoias, including the famed General Grant Tree, and abuts Sequoia National Park; while the rest (and vast majority) of the park is located about 30 miles away, accessible only via one road that goes only a fraction of the way into the park. One of the interesting things about Kings Canyon is that more than 95 percent of it is total wilderness, inaccessible by car; in fact, certain points inside Kings Canyon are farther from a road than any other place in the lower 48 states!
Our first stop was to the smaller part of the park, where we gawked in amazement at the General Grant Tree and other giant sequoias, While redwoods are the tallest trees on earth (the tallest is 367 feet, versus just over 300 for the tallest sequoia), sequoias are the largest trees, in terms of volume, with a few more than 100 feet in diameter at the base!
After viewing some of the sequoias, we decided to venture a bit into the “other’ Kings Canyon, with its vast wilderness. To get there we had to drive about 30 miles down an incredibly twisty road, which took nearly an hour. We parked our car at Road’s End — that’s the actual name of the location where the road into this part of Kings Canyon ends — and took a nice hike along Roaring River to the Roaring River Falls. We passed only about a dozen people during our nearly two-hour round-trip hike, which was a far cry from the hundreds (perhaps more than a thousand) people on the trail with us at Yosemite a few days earlier.
Some photos of our hike in Kings Canyon:
By the time we finished our hike it was about 7pm, and we still had a 30-mile drive just to get back to the other part of Kings Canyon, from where we would head south to find a place to stay for the night. We passed several campgrounds in Kings Canyon and in the national forest between it and Sequoia National Park, but all were full, and we started to get worried. We even stopped in at the few hotels/resorts in the area, only to find that they were also full. So we entered Sequoia National Park, hoping to find a campsite but concerned that none would be available, with our only option to drive an hour or more south and leave the park just to find someplace else to stay — or end up sleeping in our minivan. Fortunately, shortly before 9:30pm we found a campground in the park that still had a few available campsites, so we quickly snagged one and set up our tent, then had a simple dinner of peanut-butter sandwiches and roasted marshmallows before heading off to bed (or sleeping bag).