If you’re an admirer of giant trees, wildlife and enjoy hiking in the dense forests along valleys, meandering rivers and waterfalls with a vast patch of fresh green meadows, diverse landscapes then you are looking at the right place! You can enjoy the beauty of nature in its every form in this national park system. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon are two national parks that are situated in the southern Sierra Nevada, California in the United States, combined and administered together as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park System.
Among the two, Sequoia National Park is the oldest and is the home for the world’s largest known living tree– The General Sherman Tree. The Kings Canyon is the home for the world’s largest natural Giant Sequoia Groves – The Redwood Mountain Grove and the General Grant Grove. The General Grant Grove is the home to the General Grant Tree- world’s third largest tree. 84% of the national park system does not have roads; it is purely designated for wilderness and is accessible either by horseback or by foot. The Sequoia covers over an area of 404,063 acres in the east of Visalia, while Kings Canyon covers an area of over 461,901 acres in the east of Fresno. The wide range of this ecosystem in the NPS consists of foothills, chaparral, yucca plants, blue oak woodlands, grasslands, river valleys etc.
The Sequoia park’s best attractions are the Sherman Tree trail, Tunnel tree, Moro Rock, Crescent Meadow, Tokopah falls, the Giant Forest Museum, Campgrounds, while those of Kings Canyon include the Kearsarge Pinnacles and lakes, Giant Forest hike trails, beautiful canyons of the major rivers of California, the Kings River and San Joaquin River which gives the park the name – Kings Canyon. These canyons are carved out of granite by the glaciers. The Sequoia National park has over 240 caves and the longest being the Lilburn cave which is over 20 miles. The second longest cave (3.4 miles) is open to public is the Crystal cave which is in the giant forest region. It is always better to go around in these caves with an experienced guide to prevent from getting lost in the caves. The King Canyon has the most beautiful rivers and lakes. The one that makes your heart skip a beat is the scenic beauty of the Kearsarge Pinnacles and the Kearsarge Lake of the Kings Canyon National Park that is seen in the image.
The national park system significantly covers most of the longest mountain range, The Sierra Nevada. It has abundant and wide range of fauna and flora. The animals that can be commonly found here would include foxes, ground rattlesnakes, mule deer and bobcats and sometimes mountain lions can also be seen, but they are quite rare. The Hume Lake is an artificial lake situated in Sequoia National Park and is also not far from the Kings Canyon. Variety of beach activities and other recreations are available in this lake like fishing, swimming, boating. There are campgrounds and also cabins, private cabins for rental etc. You can reach this lake through the Generals highway from the Sequoia NP or by the Highway 180 from Kings Canyon. The Giant Forest situated within the Sequoia National Park houses five of the 10 world’s largest trees. It is connected by the Generals Highway to the Kings Canyon National Park. This forest has over 40 miles of hiking trails which makes it the most accessible among all the other groves in the national park system. The Sherman Tree trail is a round trip that goes around the giant trees from the parking lot till the General Sherman Tree. The trail is about 0.8 miles only.
Coming to the best attractions of Sequoia NP, the first one would be the Tunnel Tree. In the year 1937, a giant sequoia tree which was over 275 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter, fell across the park road due to natural causes. To clear the blocked road, they carved a tunnel out of the tree which is about 8 feet tall and 17 feet wide. This adds fun to the visitors also paving a chance to admire their beauty too. There is also a museum called the Giant Forest Museum. It provides information and fun facts about the Giant Sequoia trees and the history of humans that lived there like the Native Americans. Tokopah falls is one of the most beautiful sights in the Park and is 1200 feet high. It looks amazing and wonderful especially during the summer.
The Crescent meadow is a beautiful Sequoia tree rimmed one, which is at the end of the Generals Highway near the Giant Forest Museum. The last but not the least is the Moro Rock. It is located in between the Giant Forest and the Crescent meadow. It almost marks the center of the park. It is a granite dome with over 400 step stairway which was built in the 1930’s. It has an elevation of about 6,725 feet and the stairway helps public people, visitors to climb till the top of the rock. It is strongly recommended to avoid hiking in this trail during winter, especially while it snows and during thunder storms. From the top of this rock, almost the entire park can be seen including the Great Western Divide.