Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
I’ll share about these in tandem, not because they can’t be discussed separately, but because everyone else does, even the National Park Service. I suppose I’ll conform. These two parks are adjacent to each other, so in just one trip you can cross two National Parks off your list! Quite a bargain.
I think of these as the parks that capture the quintessential eastern California experience. Lots of large forests with large trees, mountain ranges, green valleys and meadows, rivers and falls, and bears. The parks are surrounded on all sides by National Forests.
We stayed at the Azalea campground (site #35) right inside the west entrance of the western little appendage of Kings Canyon National Park that attaches to Sequoia National Park. Similar to most campgrounds in the National Parks, there is no water, sewer, or electricity. Here’s a tidbit of information…this campground will say it has water spigots throughout the campground, but the only water spigot that works to fill a travel trailer or RV tank can be found at the building where you pay the camping fee. It’s on the backside of the building and you will need a REALLY, REALLY long hose to reach from the spigot to your trailer. We showed up with an empty water tank and learned the hard way. I hope to save you some hassle.
Potable water and dump can be found at the Princess campground towards Hume Lake. While we were dumping and filling…don’t worry, separate tanks…we struck up a conversation with a family we met from Germany. They had already visited Yosemite, Sequoia, and now Kings Canyon. Take a moment absorb this…they took their MONTH-LONG vacation and chose to spend it visiting OUR National Parks. They could have traveled anywhere in Europe, Africa, Asia…anywhere…and they chose here. And you will meet TONS of people from different countries during any visit to any of our National Parks. Our National Parks are essentially in our backyard. How could we not visit them?!
Drive Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
Our first day we ventured towards the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon. We saw the General Grant Tree, took a cave tour at Boyden Cave, put our feet in at Grizzly Falls, and enjoyed Roaring River Falls too. All I would highly recommend. Along the way back we stopped to watch the major forest fire that was roaring through Kings Canyon at the time and the helicopter carrying water to douse it. We even detoured to Hume Lake to watch the helicopter refill its tank. This drive along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway has amazing canyon views and you drive right along the river.
I don’t know what it is with moving water, like rivers or streams, and my family’s need to encounter it, but we certainly do. We stopped during this drive plenty to play, throw rocks, and wade. If at any time as you drive along the river you feel the urge to pull over and put your feet in…do it.
Enjoy the sites along Generals Highway
The second drive took us along the Generals Highway. We managed the hike to River Tokopah Falls without encountering a bear (1.7 miles one way), which at the time was pretty astounding. The pool at the end of the hike is awesome and worth it. On the hike back we, of course, stopped numerous times to play in the Kaweah River that the trail follows for much of the way. Some areas of the river are wide and shallow with flat rocks that lend themselves to become slides. Yes, at least one of the kids encountered a pool of water that was deeper than anticipated and ended up wetter than initially planned. Hence the reason for stopping along the river on the hike BACK, not TO the falls. We also enjoyed General Sherman Tree (the largest tree in the world by volume, no kidding), and hiked the 400 steps to Morro Rock. No, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and yes, it’s totally worth it. Plus, we saw two bears, deer, and the requisite chipmunks & squirrels. Trip complete.
Location: Located adjacent to one another in central-eastern California, east of Fresno. Entrance to the parks is only available from the western side of the parks. No entrances from the eastern side and no roads traverse west to east across the entire park.
Camping: No water, electricity, or sewer hookups for RVs at the campsites. Pump action water spigots throughout Azalea Campground, but not conducive to filling RV water tanks. Potable water and dump for RVs can be found at Princess Campground.
Find out more at: https://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm