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The Wonders of Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is a beautiful park filled with diverse landscapes including big mountains, deep canyons, caverns and foothills, and of course the largest trees in the world. Located in the Sierra Nevada, just east of Fresno, it makes for an excellent California camping destination and offers four distinct season, five separate regions, and plenty of activities.
Kings Canyon National Park was established in 1940, although human activity in the area stretches back as far as 7,000 years ago. Almost 300 Native American archeological sites are protected within the park, as well as nearly 70 more historical sites. The park also protects half of California’s cave systems, including the longest cave in the state which contains fossils, rare minerals and distinctive animals. Kings Canyon National Park runs side by side with Sequoia National Park and the two are often treated as one.
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The park has varying elevations (1,500-15,000') which lead to varying weather patterns and seasons. The Foothills tend to be mild with hot and dry summers and cool and wet winters. As you move up in elevation, the temperature decreases, offering warm summers with a chance of thunderstorms and cold, snowy winters. The temperature often drops below freezing. As you continue to rise in elevation, the weather also continues to get cooler where some parts of the park are inaccessible during the winter months due to snow. Chains are required for some of the roads, and many roads close after snowstorms to allow for plowing, sometimes remaining closed for weeks. Summer lasts from mid-July through September while fall begins mid-September and lasts through November. Fall is a good time to visit since it is usually not too crowded and the weather is still pleasant although rain and snow are common. Winter runs from November through April with much of the higher elevation areas of the park closed closed, making it a terrific time to visit the foothills. Spring tends to start around April and ends in July. Snow is still present in the upper elevations, but it is a beautiful time to visit. Be aware that the rivers and streams present a very real danger and can be unpredictable. Most deaths in the park are related to spring river drowning.
There is a $20 entrance fee which is good for seven days, an annual pass costs $30, and there is an annual pass good for most national parks that cost $80. Permits are required for certain activities, including fishing and backpacking.
Kings Canyon National Park has a lot to offer campers of any level. For those that prefer the comfort of their car, there are many scenic routes through the park. One such route is the King Canyon Scenic Byway. It begins in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and travels 50 magnificent miles up to Roads End. As you travel along the scenic byway, you will experience the height and majesty of the giant sequoias as they tower over the road. The Kings River runs along the byway and offers terrific opportunities for scenic views, magnificent fishing, and terrific hikes. It takes about one hour each way, and truly is a beautiful, peaceful drive. There are numerous opportunities for hiking along established trails and through wilderness. There are hikes through the foothills, through the giant groves of Sequoia trees, river hikes, and more. For wilder hikes, be sure to bring a map! Horseback riding is also available through Cedar Grove Pack Station and Grant Grove Stables. Be sure to visit the giant sequoias, some of which are 3,000 years old! These trees are the biggest in the world and have survived changing climates, fires, and man. They truly are a sight worth seeing.
To find a California campground that works for you, visit one of these
Top National Parks to Visit in the United States