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Visit Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park preserves a huge unspoilt and beautiful area of the central Sierra Nevada mountains, containing several deep glaciated canyons, countless lakes, pools, meadows and waterfalls, and over 20 peaks that exceed 13,000 feet. The park also shelters six groves of giant sequoia trees, found near the southern boundary which is shared with Sequoia National Park; the two are administered as one unit, and have similar scenery except that Sequoia has more of the huge trees.
Kings Canyon is similar to Yosemite and Zion National Parks as the central attraction is a deep valley accessible from one end only, surrounded by huge areas of back-country that most people never visit. The canyon is not quite as immediately spectacular as these more famous destinations, but it is much less spoilt by development and very rewarding for the traveler who wants to do a little more than just drive along a road and stop at viewpoints. Vehicular access is even more limited than Yosemite as the dead-end canyon approach drive is the only road of any kind within the 462,000 acres of the park and so extended hiking is the only way to visit the wilderness areas.
The centerpiece of the national park is Kings Canyon, formed by the South Fork of the Kings River - this is the deepest gorge in the US, although most lies outside the park to the west and forms the boundary between the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests. The steepest section has a drop of 8,000 feet, from Spanish Mountain at the north side of the canyon to the river, but there are no roads or even paths into this region. The lower, less steep western end may be reached by paved roads around Pine Flat Reservoir, 15 miles away in the western Sierra Nevada foothills, but most people come to visit the east section, accessed by the steep, winding and very scenic Highway 180. Facilities are concentrated at Cedar Grove, and include a visitor center, picnic areas, trailheads and several campgrounds. The giant sequoia are found in a smaller, detached, more easily reached section of the national park to the west (Grant Grove), bordering Sequoia National Park; besides the trees, the park road in this region also passes several viewpoints, three campgrounds and plenty more footpaths.
Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the national park close to the eastern border, part of a continuous 2,640 mile footpath from Canada to Mexico, and the mountains are crossed by many other backcountry trails, which start from the main visitor center area at Cedar Grove, or outside the park - from the west in the Sierra National Forest and from Owens Valley in the east. For day hikes there are around 20 trails, centered on Grant Grove in the west section of the park and Cedar Grove/Kings River in the east.