Walk amongst the world’s most gigantic trees, gaze upon the huge canyons, feel the water splatter from amazing waterfalls and see the vast meadows at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. It’s a terrific place to hike, see wildlife and experience nature at one of its best.
We hope our itinerary helps you plan your wonderful vacation to Land of the Giants.
DAY 1 – KINGS CANYON
Stay in the lodging inside Kings Canyon
General Grant Grove
The best way to orient yourself to Kings Canyon is by starting your day with a short 0.3 mile hike through the General Grant Grove to see the General Grant Tree, the third largest tree in the world. While walking on the trail, observe the trees that were burned by forest fire, leaving the tree stump as an evidence.
Just by the Kings Canyon Visitor Center is the narrow and steep road to the Panoramic Point, one of the most popular places in the national park to see the sunrise, sunset and the Milky Way galaxy.
Normally, one needs to go on merciless hikes to see sweeping landscapes. However, Panoramic Point doesn’t require that you break a sweat and allows you to drive to the trailhead and take a short 0.5 mile roundtrip trail to see a bird’s eye view of Kings Canyon.
From the viewpoint, aside from the dramatic view of the canyons, a countless number of interesting rock formations are visible. Clearly in focus is the charming Hume Lake, inundated amidst the green pine trees.
Hume Lake is one of the most sought after destinations among visitors to the Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park. That’s not surprising at all, considering that Hume Lake offers so many family-friendly activities such as shallow shoreline, hiking, bike rentals, boat rentals.
The expansive grass area near the lodging area makes it ideal for kids to play and for adults to play volleyball. The chairs and picnic tables by the lake also make the Hume Lake one of the best picnic spots. Although the road down to the Hume Lake is narrow and winding, a few viewpoints along the way are worth stopping for a few minutes.
An overlook offers some amazing views of both the Middle Fork and the South Fork of Kings Canyon.
The Grizzly Falls can partly be seen from the parking lot, and can so easily be accessed within a 0.1 mile walk from the parking lot. The water level in Grizzly Falls depends on the amount of snow that season and your season of visit. When we went in the end of summer, the water was in its diminished state, slivering down the eighty feet granite wall. Nevertheless, it was still lovely. On a hot summer day walk closer to the waterfalls to be greeted by a refreshing mist. If you have snacks packed, this is the best time to open the boxes and relax on the picnic tables next to the parking lot.
Roaring River Waterfalls
Although the roaring river itself doesn’t ‘roar’ and not quite impressive, the lovely Roaring River Waterfalls is absolutely worth the 5-10 minutes easy walk from the parking lot. The waterfalls is beautifully set amidst the tall canyons and the water gushing through a narrow gap, forming the waterfalls and tumbling down into an emerald green pool is a breathtaking sight.
It is one of those places that you can never get tired of, and the addictive view makes you want to hang around in the area much longer than what you originally anticipated.
A scenic, short trail circling the verdant meadows, by the gentle Kings River, between high granite cliffs – That’s Zumwalt Meadow! The scenery is different from what you’ll see in the rest of the national park. Part of the trail undulates over the boulders at the foot of the cliffs. A short detour from the trail also takes you down to the shallow portion of the Kings River, ideal for little kids to play around with water.
Any open and dark space within the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park is an ideal spot for stargazing. A couple of spots that we recommend are:
– Panoramic Point in Kings Canyon – Very narrow and steep drive up to parking lot, and then a short walk to the viewpoint. I’d do it with a group and would hesitate going alone
– Additional Parking Lot near Wuksatchi Lodge- Definitely a safer option
DAY 2 – SEQUOIA
Stay in the lodging inside Sequoia National Park (Wuksachi Lodge)
Comparatively younger than the other caves in the world, the 1.2 million years old Crystal Caves are a must-see attraction in the Sequoia National Park. The water level of the Yucca Creek, which flowed 250 feet above the current cave entrance reduced, creating the Crystal caves, which stand on marble rock. As you walk through the, hear and notice the creek flowing over the white marble. The various stalactite and stalagmite formations, along with the huge dome like structures with shining crystals are pretty interesting to look at.
Moro Rock well deserves the hype as the most popular hike in the Sequoia National Park. Fortunately, this short 0.5 mile, but not too steep hike makes it possible for most people to hike to the summit of this granite dome that was formed 100 million years ago. Parts of the trail are narrow allowing only person to walk at a time. For those who experience vertigo, a tip is to not look on either sides and just keep looking down and focus on climbing the stairs. When you stop at places that are wide enough, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the picturesque views of the valley.
Tunnel Log is a quirky attraction in the Sequoia National Park. The fallen sequoia was craftily cut, creating a tunnel large enough for cars to pass through. The wide sequoia allows you to walk on the tree and pose this like
For those wanting an easy hike through the neck-straining sequoia trees and the green meadows, Crescent Meadow is an ideal choice. The Crescent Meadow is most impressive in the spring, when the flowers are in full bloom, but a stroll during other times of the year doesn’t disappoint. It’s a common sight to see the fallen sequoia trees stretching across the width of the meadow; notice how the roots are blown out. A walk until the Tharp’s Log (a cabin built using one of the fallen sequoia trees) is a very popular and short trail.
Giant Sherman Tree
Want to see the world’s largest tree, the Giant Sherman Tree? It resides inside the Sequoia National Park. Even if seeing the giant sequoias is not your reason to visit the Sequoia National Park, it is a must to take a short walk to see his massive tree that makes you feel and look like a teeny tiny object when you stand by it.
This granite boulder is one the popular attractions in the Sequoia National Park – worth the short stopover.
WHERE TO STAY
Camping is very popular. However, if you don’t enjoy camping, then I’d definitely stay at the lodges inside the park. Wuksachi Lodge is a very popular choice; be sure to book in advance!
WHAT TO PACK
- Check the weather forecast and plan on dressing in layers
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Refillable water bottle