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Top Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon

Discover the Activities in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


Top Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon

The Grand Sentinel at Road's End

© 2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

These things to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon are listed in order, starting from just outside the Ash Mountain entrance near Three Rivers on CA Hwy 198.

  • Mineral King: At 7,800 foot elevation, this sub-alpine valley lies at the end of a steep, narrow, winding road and is open only in the summer. It's the only part of the park's back country accessible by automobile, and even a short hike here is a real treat. Turn off CA 198 before you get to the Sequoia gate. In spring, beware of marmots here. They love to chew on electrical wires and radiator hoses, so lift your vehicle's hood and check the engine before you start it.
  • Crystal Cave: A marble cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites, Crystal Cave is open in the summer only and is not wheelchair accessible. Purchase tickets for the 45-minute, guided tour at the Foothills Visitor Center or Lodgepole. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and take a jacket.
  • Moro Rock: The top of this granite monolith feels a lot like the top of the world, with the Great Western Divide laid out on one side and California's Central Valley on the other. On a clear day, you can sometimes see as far as 150 miles from here. The 400-step staircase to the summit rises 300 feet, and the altitude can make the climb seem more difficult than it would be at sea level, but it's well worth the trip. Allow about one hour for the round trip.
  • Tunnel Tree and Auto Log: Both of these attractions are found along the road to Moro Rock. Although you can't drive onto the Auto Log any more, you and all your companions can line up across the end of it for an "I was there" photo. Tunnel Log is the only "tree you can drive through" in the parks here, but if your vehicle is more than eight feet tall, you'll have take the bypass around it.
  • Giant Forest Museum: If Moro Rock makes you feel like you're on top of the world, the Giant Forest will bring back a sense of proportion as you compare yourself to the giant sequoias at this museum, housed in what was once a too-busy park store.
  • General Sherman: The largest among the large trees, General Sherman is the most massive tree on Earth, between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. Its largest branch is almost seven feet in diameter, and each year it adds enough wood growth to make a 60-foot-tall tree of usual proportions. If the hike down (and back up) from the parking area is daunting, ask a companion to drop you off at the shuttle stop on the main road. From there, it's a gentle slope up with no steps to climb.
  • Buck Rock: A fire lookout set atop a granite peak at 8,500 feet, Buck Rock affords unobstructed views. about 5 miles off General's Highway. Southeast of Grant Grove, turn north onto Big Meadow Road, then turn left onto FS13S02 (that's a road number). Get to the lookout by climbing 172 metal steps suspended from the side of the rock. It's open to the public during summer.
  • Grant Grove: The General Grant Tree here is the world's third-largest, and is the nation's official Christmas tree. A 1/3-mile, wheelchair-accessible loop trail takes you past a settler's cabin and the Fallen Giant.
  • Hume Lake: Located 3 miles off the main road between Grant Grove and Kings Canyon, this lake was built to supply water for a 67-mile flume that floated logs down to Sanger. Nowadays, it's a recreation area where you can swim or rent a boat and paddle around.

Highway 180 is closed at the Hume Lake cutoff from November 1 through late May. The sights below are not accessible during that time of year.

  • Canyon View: This overlook is a good place to see the "U" shape of this glacier-carved canyon.
  • Boyden Cavern: This privately-owned cavern charges an admission fee that's separate from the park entrance fee. Tours (45 minutes) leave about once an hour. They also offer special canyoneering and rapelling tours for the more adventurous.
  • Kings Canyon: By some measurements, it's the deepest canyon in the United States, at 7,900 feet.
  • Road's End: To cross the Sierra, you'd have to walk from here.

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