Know Before You Go: Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful areas we have ever been too. The best part? We were basically the only ones there! This area is truly a “mini Yosemite” and has everything adventure lovers and campers could ask for.
Best Time To Visit Kings Canyon National Park
For the most beautiful weather, we recommend checking out this National Park in the spring. The peak season is May through October. Within those months, mid-September and October are popular, due to fewer crowds with good weather (although it can still get chilly at night). During winter, parts of the park are closed November until mid-April, so make sure to check out closures here before planning your visit.
What To Bring to Kings Canyon National Park
Because the different areas of the park are such different climates, we definitely recommend coming prepared with a variety of clothing. One day, we were surrounded by thick fog, and by the end of the day, it was sunny and 80 degrees. For more info, check out our full outdoor adventure Gear Guide! Now to the good stuff: here’s our Top 9 Things to do in Kings Canyon National Park!
1. Panoramic Point
We started off our day in Kings Canyon National Park at Panoramic Point. It is a 0.5-mile round trip hike that is relatively flat and perfect for beginners. We decided to hike this for sunrise to get a beautiful view of the Sierra Nevadas and Hume Lake from up above.
2. General Grant Tree
The General Grant Tree takes about .33 miles on a loop trail. According to Visit Sequoia, The General Grant Tree is the second-largest tree in the world, standing 267 feet tall, and is nearly 29 feet wide at the base. Fun Fact: It’s actually dubbed as the Nation’s Christmas Tree! Along the loop, there’s actually a really cool fallen tree that you can walk under as well.
3. Hume Lake
Hume Lake offers a beautiful 2.8-mile loop trail hike right along the water. We recommend starting in the parking lot nearest to the campgrounds and making your way around clockwise, as most of the beauty was in the beginning half of the loop. There’s also a recreation area and a small town with a gas station, gift shop, and restaurant for food. However, we recommend bringing your own and having a nice picnic beside the water.
4. Boole Tree Trail
This tree was definitely one of the highlights of our day in Kings Canyon National Park. It’s a 2 mile Loop on the full trail to see the tree, or you can just hike to the Boole Tree & back and it’s about 1.8 miles. This tree was cool to experience, especially because you can get right under it and really take in how large it is. It’s off the beaten path, so it’s much less crowded than General Sherman or General Grant trees. The trail is a little bit tricky to follow, so we recommend downloading the hiking trail data ahead of time. Also, make sure you stick to the right trail where it seems to break off into 2 different used trails.
5. Stump Meadow
Stump Meadow boasts a beautiful meadow but also serves as a tragic reminder of the sequoias that were chopped down back in the 1800s. It used to be one of the largest giant sequoia groves in the world before it was logged. We definitely recommend parking your car in a pull-out and wandering around the meadow to really get a grasp on how big these trees were. Since the park was acquired by the National Park Service, they’ve been practicing re-vegetation efforts to try and restore this area to its former glory.
6. Drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
There are SO many amazing pull outs on the Kings Canyon Byway that offer a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys. If you decide to head down to Zumwalt Meadows, or any of the other waterfalls, take your time and enjoy the stunning scenery on your way down into the canyon. The road actually ends at Zumwalt Meadows, so it’s an out and back drive.
7. Grizzly Falls
Grizzly Falls is a perfect drive-up location. The 75-foot waterfall is at its best in spring, when the rapids are incredibly strong and flowing. It’s a lovely spot in Kings Canyon National Park to have a picnic or take a nice break since it’s a .1 mile walk to it.
8. Roaring River Falls
Roaring River Falls is about a 5-minute walk (.3 miles) up from the parking lot and is an amazing sight for its effort involved to get there. These rapids are so strong that people are not allowed to swim in them. The mist is crazy and it’s a beautiful stop on your way to Zumwalt Meadow.
9. Zumwalt Meadow
Unfortunately, while we were visiting Kings Canyon National Park, the Zumwalt Meadow loop was partially closed. From the half of it that we were able to do, this is absolutely one of our top recommendations if you only have a limited time in the park. The full Zumwalt Meadow Loop is 1.5 miles with no elevation gain. It takes you through the forest, over some falls, and through a gorgeous lush green meadow. You can get an incredible view of Sentinel Point and North Dome. We recommend coming here for a golden hour as it catches early, and you can get two sunsets as you make your way back up the scenic byway.