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Explore Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in Central California

Nestled within Central California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range are Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, two protected natural spaces full of extraordinary beauty. Their relative proximity makes it possible for visitors to immerse themselves in the rugged natural landscapes of both parks with relative ease—there are even trails that weave between these sister parks, as a bonus. Connect with nature by breathing in the fresh mountain air, slowing down for a serene alpine picnic, or hiking to the summit for a spectacular vantage point of these natural wonders. Explore the colossal trees, diverse ecosystems, incredible peaks, and pristine wilderness that make Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks a must-visit Golden State destination.

General Sherman Tree. Photo by Rabbit75_cav.

The Giant Sequoias

You’re stepping into the land of giants at Sequoia National Park, where the colossal Giant Sequoias constitute the largest living organisms on Earth. Of the 8,000 trees in The Giant Forest Grove of Big Trees, the largest one by volume and wood mass is the astonishing General Sherman Tree. The behemoth is also one of the longest-living trees in the world, estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. In Kings Canyon National Park’s Grant Grove, visit the second largest sequoia, General Grant Tree, lovingly known as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.” These stunning sanctuaries captivate visitors with the majesty and resilience of the Giant Sequoias. To stand amongst these towering giants is a humbling experience, inspiring awe and reverence in the grandeur of nature.  

Photo by Kamchatka

Mt. Whitney

Towering above the landscape at a staggering 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney proudly holds the title of the highest peak in the contiguous United States. Situated within Sequoia National Park, it attracts mountaineers and adventurers from all over the globe. Mt. Whitney rewards those who complete the challenging 10.7-mile ascent with breathtaking panoramic views from the summit. The trek traverses alpine meadows and pine forests while weaving past pristine lakes, offering an unforgettable expedition through some of California’s most majestic natural terrain. 

Moro Rock. Photo by Kelly van Dellen.

Moro Rock

Beyond Mt. Whitney, there are an array of geologic features that contribute to the region’s remarkable landscape. Standing proudly at the entrance to Sequoia National Park is Moro Rock, an iconic granite dome that overlooks the park’s stunning wilderness. Its distinctive shape comes from an erosion process called exfoliation, in which thin sheets of rock have flaked off over time. Climb the well-maintained, 400-step staircase of the Moro Rock Trail to the top of the dome. On the summit, discover unparalleled panoramic vistas of Sequoia National Park’s surrounding terrain.

Photo by Samson1976

Kings Canyon

Further your alpine exploration at Kings Canyon National Park, where visitors can journey through a spectacular glacially-carved valley. Over a mile deep, Kings Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in North America. ​​Kings Canyon Scenic Byway runs through the valley and encompasses a stunning landscape of craggy granite precipices, thriving forests, and cascading waterfalls. The rugged mountain scenery is a hikers’ paradise; numerous trails weave through the serene wilderness, leading to crystal-clear lakes, traversing flowing rivers, and meandering around wildflower-strewn meadows and lush forests. This tranquil mountain setting is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

Photo by Chris Putnam

Unwind after a long day in one of the most comfortable lodging options in the region. Stay in the heart of the action at one of the parks’ stone-and-timber lodgings: Sequoia’s Wuksachi Lodge and Kings Canyon’s John Muir Lodge. At the John Muir Lodge, snuggle up with loved ones by the charming stone fireplace in the great room, indulge at the Grant Grove Restaurant, and watch the sunset over the mountains on the public balconies. The Wuksachi Lodge is ideally situated next to The Giant Forest Grove of Big Trees, with spacious and well-equipped guest rooms that have spectacular mountain views. Pro tip: The Wuksachi Lodge and John Muir Lodge are dog-friendly, so bring your four-legged friend along on your adventures! Nestled into the rolling foothills at the base of Sequoia National Park is the Rio Sierra Riverhouse, a riverfront resort where you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the river flowing outside your cabin. Tucked just beyond the gates to Kings Canyon, the all-inclusive Montecito Sequoia Lodge is a rustic cabin-style resort where you can truly get away from it all. 

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