Sequoia & Kings Canyon, CA
Kings Canyon National Park
John Muir called this park (which is adjacent to Sequoia) Yosemite's rival. It's easy to see why, once you step into this wilderness of granite cliffs, deep canyons, and a wild river. Formed by white water, the canyon of the Kings River is thousands of feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. Like Sequoia, the park is home to big trees.
Reserve the second day of your weekend to tour Kings Canyon. Here are our favorite sights:
- Grant Grove and the General Grant Tree. The star attraction of this grove is the General Grant (named after Ulysses S.), the world's third largest tree. Estimated to be 1,800 to 2,000 years old, this tree is a mere youngster compared to others in the grove. A half-mile loop from the parking lot leads to the tree, and is an easy walk, even for toddlers.
- Big Stump Trail. In 1891, it took two men 13 days to cut down a 26-foot-wide, 1,700 year-old tree, now known as the 1891 Mark Twain Stump. An easy, one-mile loop trail around the stump is a great place for kids to burn off steam and learn about early logging in the area. Check out the piles of sawdust nearby, too. Believe it or not, they're more than a century old (sequoia wood decays slowly).
- Panoramic Point. At the top of this 7,520-foot ridge, you'll get a breathtaking view of the High Sierra.
- Cedar Grove. Tumbling waterfalls, meadows, and miles of quiet trails are nestled in this mile-deep section of Kings Canyon. Getting there is half the fun as you zigzag along Hwy 180 into the canyons. The main attractions are two stunning granite formations in the Grand Sentinel standing 8,518 feet (3,500 feet above the canyon floor) and the still-taller North Dome (which resembles Yosemite's famed Half Dome) at 8,717 feet.