Sequoia and Kings Canyon wow spots

Where to go for spectacular scenery, hiking, and giant trees

Sequoia valley

Photo by Carr Clifton

Sequoia: Mineral King

Think of this as Sequoia’s secret: a hidden valley up at 7,500 feet reached by a winding 28-mile road.  It’s a trek, but you won’t be sorry when you get there—Mineral King is gorgeous.

For moderate hiking, take the 4.5-mile one-way trail to Upper and Lower Monarch Lakes.

You can backpack to camp here ($15 wilderness permit required; purchase at Mineral King Ranger Station), camp at nearby Cold Springs or Atwell Mill campgrounds, or stay at the rustic cabins of Silver City Mountain Resort on Mineral King Road.

General Sherman sequoia tree

Sequoia: General Sherman Tree

Size matters: This 2,100-year-old giant sequoia, in Giant Forest, is the largest (by volume) tree on Earth, weighing in at an estimated 1,385 tons.

Like many of the parks’ trees, it was named in the 1870s for a leader in the recently fought Civil War—in this case Union Army general William Tecumseh Sherman.

Sequoia tree tunnel

Sequoia: The Tunnel Log

On Crescent Meadow Road near Giant Forest, a tunnel was burrowed through this fallen sequoia, making it the only tree you can drive through in Sequoia or Kings Canyon. If you’re piloting a giant SUV, consider taking the bypass.  

Sequoia Park's Moro Rock

Sequoia: Moro Rock

This giant dome of granite rises above the Giant Forest sequoia grove. Climb the 400 stone steps to Moro’s summit, and you’ll get some of the best views in California.

Sequoia Park's Giant Forest

Sequoia: Giant Forest

Get up close and personal to many giant sequoias in this aptly-named section of the park. The 2-mile Congress Trail takes you on an easy loop through.

Mount Whitney sunset

Sequoia: Mount Whitney

At 14,494 feet, it’s the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. And it doesn’t take any mountain climbing expertise or technical climbing equipment (at least not from mid-July to early October) to tackle the 22-mile round-trip trail to the summit—just lots of stamina. Thousands of people do it each year.

Information on the hike (and necessary permit) available from the U.S. Forest Service.

Kings Canyon meadow

Photo by David Fenton

Kings Canyon: Zumwalt Meadow

Against a backdrop of Sierra Nevada domes, Zumwalt Meadow glows green and gold in the sunlight. With its flat, gentle trails, the meadow is great for kids—and makes an ideal introduction to the park.

General Grant Christmas tree

Kings Canyon: Grant Grove

Time to sing “Deck the Halls.” In the park, the spectacular grove of giant sequoias includes the General Grant Tree, officially “The Nation’s Christmas Tree.” You’d need lots of tinsel to decorate its boughs: This particular giant is 268 feet tall and 107 feet around.

Kings Canyon waterfall

Photo by David Fenton

Kings Canyon: Grizzly Falls

Head off Kings Canyon Scenic Byway and hike the short, easy trail up to the impressive Grizzly Falls. The 75-foot waterfall is at its best in spring, when the thunderous force is so strong you can feel the reverberations in your chest.

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