National Parks

Kings Canyon National Park

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Another short visit, similar to Sequoia, makes me want to come back…

That was how Ryan’s journal entry about our time in Kings Canyon started. He went on to recall the sites we saw and what we did while we were there, but ended the short entry with the same sentiment.

Most of the park is wilderness so I hope to come back and do some backpacking to really enjoy what this park has to offer.

Whenever we visit a park, especially on short visits, we are faced with a tough decision. We can either try to see as many of the recommended attractions as possible, driving from site to site, hopping in and out of the car and taking short hikes to points of interest.  Or we can choose to take the path less traveled and go on an epic hike into the backcountry.  Each choice has its own advantages and disadvantages.   With the first choice we are able to see more variety and learn more about the park environment and history.  With the second choice, however, we have a chance to get away from the crowds and shutterbugs, to experience the solitude and grandness that many of our parks have to offer.  Typically, our schedule and mood dictate which option we choose.  It’s funny because no matter which option we choose I often find myself feeling that I only got to see a tiny sliver of the park.  That was definitely how I felt after visiting Kings Canyon.

After camping near Sequoia NP, Ryan and I woke up early grabbed some coffee and drove to Kings Canyon.  We started at  the General Grant area and enjoyed another nice walk through a Seqouia grove.  At this grove we got to walk through a fallen, hollowed out tree, which provided a unique vantage point to marvel at the Sequoia’s massive breadth.  Next, we drove the Kings Canyon scenic byway, which exits the park and re-enters at the Cedar Grove area.  One thing that almost all parks have in common are winding roads.  Down the winding road we went, as it curved along the canyon walls.  The ride was pretty intimidating for me.  Ryan has driven both this and The-Going-to-the-Sun road now, and feels The-Going-to-the-Sun road is far more intimidating, however as a passenger I felt more nervous driving into Kings Canyon.

Once we were back in the park, we drove to the end of the road and then took a short hike at Zumwalt Meadow.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The dramatic contrast between the lush grass and the tall granite peaks make the meadows in the High Sierras very special.  While we were still just off of the park road, we encountered very few  tourists on this hike, much different than the Congress Trail to General Sherman.  After the hike we stopped and had a quiet lunch at Grizzly Falls.  As Ryan recalled, our visit to Kings Canyon was very brief and I am already looking forward to another trip back.  Even now I struggle with how to end this post, I wish I had more eloquent words to write.  I know my words and pictures fall far short of doing the park justice, but somehow I know they are still worth sharing.  Perhaps after another, longer visit into the wilderness area of Kings Canyon I’ll have something more profound to say.

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