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Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

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  • Neighboring sister parks that function as one collective unit
  • One of the most beautiful sections of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Home to the largest tree in the world, the deepest canyon in the country, and the tallest peak in the continental U.S.

When To Visit: Year-round, but expect road closures & fewer activity options in winter

Climate: Very varied, generally warm in summer, cool in spring & fall, and cold with lots of snow in winter.

Location: Central California 1 hour east of Fresno

These incredible national parks have some of the tallest trees in the world, majestic mountains and canyons, and stunning rock formations. Much of the parks’ beauty is easily accessible via car and there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore on foot.

What To See & Do in Sequoia & Kings Canyon

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Tunnel Log

A drive through the full length of Sequoia and Kings Canyons’ park roads with copious stops for photo ops, walks, and hikes will show you breathtaking views and most of the park’s most dramatic landscapes. If time permits, take the windy, one-lane road to Mineral King to explore a less crowded, higher-elevation corner of the park.

Below are my top picks for Sequoia and Kings Canyon walks and hikes ranked in order of scenery (but truly all of them are incredible).

Sequoia & Kings Canyon Short Walks

1. General Sherman Tree

  • 1 mile round trip, out & back, 30 mins-1 hour, easy
  • See the world’s largest tree in volume

2. Moro Rock

  • 0.1 miles round trip, out & back, 10-30 mins, moderately strenuous
  • Despite the ridiculously short length of this hike, you do climb straight up the rock so it requires some effort
  • You’ll feel on top of the world when you conquer this impressive boulder and take in the panoramic views from the top
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Moro Rock

3. General Grant Tree Trail

  • 0.8 mile loop, 30-45 minutes, easy
  • One of the park’s most famous trees, known as “The Nation’s Christmas Tree”
  • The loop takes you by several other impressive sequoias, including a fallen one you can walk through

4. Roaring River Falls

  • 0.3 mile loop, 10-20 mins, easy
  • A very powerful tiny waterfall in a gorgeous forest setting
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Roaring River Falls

5. Big Trees Loop

  • 0.6 mile loop, 15-30 mins, easy
  • Pass giant sequoia after giant sequoia on this peaceful and awe-inspiring walk

Sequoia & Kings Canyon Hikes

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Mineral King Valley from Monarch Lakes Trail
  1. Monarch Lakes

    • 8.4 miles round trip, out & back, 3-5 hours, strenuous
    • Located in the far less crowded remote Mineral King section of the park, accessible via a windy paved one-lane road
    • This breathtaking trail takes you through lovely meadows and forests then goes far above treeline to the 10,600ft Monarch Lakes
  2. Tokopah Falls

    • 3.2 miles round trip, out & back, 1-2 hours, easy
    • A pleasant riverside stroll that ends at a long, rocky waterfall
    • There’s not much water in late summer and fall but the surrounding cliffs are still impressive
  3. Zumwalt Meadow

    • 1.5 mile loop, 30-45 mins, easy
    • An extremely tranquil and green meadow surrounded by impressive granite cliffs
  4. Buena Vista Peak

    • 2 miles round trip, out & back, 45-90 mins, moderately strenuous
    • A fairly gradual climb to the top of this peak and impressive views of the surrounding forest and mountains
    • The top of the peak has a wide area on which to relax, explore, and see the views from different angles

Where To Stay & Eat in Sequoia & Kings Canyon

The parks contain four lodges which offer hotel rooms and cabins. Book early as they are typically reserved far in advance. If you are unable to get a spot in the parks, the town of Three Rivers just outside the south entrance has several more options.

The parks have a few picnic areas if you would like to bring food into the parks.

There are several campgrounds in the parks – some of which are reservable but most of which are first-come, first-served. Click here for more information.

Nearby Side Trips from Sequoia & Kings Canyon

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Peaks near Nevada Falls in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park – 3 hours north of Sequoia & Kings Canyon, this majestic park is centered around the gorgeous Yosemite Valley and contains tall waterfalls, alpine lakes, and beautifully shaped mountains. Read more.

 

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