Kings Canyon Overview

Kings Canyon National Park, nestled in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, is a stunning expanse of rugged wilderness that showcases some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the United States. Established in 1940 and covering an area of approximately 461,901 acres (1,869 square kilometers), the park is renowned for its deep valleys, towering mountains, majestic waterfalls, and expansive groves of giant sequoias. Kings Canyon, alongside its neighboring Sequoia National Park, forms part of a contiguous protected area that preserves a significant portion of the Sierra Nevada’s pristine ecosystems.

The park is divided into two main areas: the Grant Grove section, home to the General Grant Tree, one of the world’s largest living trees, and the Cedar Grove area, which lies within the heart of Kings Canyon itself. The canyon is one of the deepest in North America, with dramatic cliffs and the powerful Kings River flowing through its forested floor, creating a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty.

Kings Canyon National Park’s diverse terrain supports a rich variety of plant and animal life, from the iconic giant sequoias to black bears, mountain lions, and numerous bird species. The park offers a multitude of recreational activities, including hiking, backpacking, camping, and fishing, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its natural wonders. The extensive trail system provides access to remote wilderness areas, serene alpine lakes, and stunning overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada’s dramatic peaks and valleys.

With its awe-inspiring scenery and vast wilderness areas, Kings Canyon National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone seeking to experience the tranquility and majesty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The park’s preservation efforts ensure that its natural beauty and ecological diversity will continue to inspire and enchant visitors for generations to come.

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Park Map
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Kings Canyon National Park Highlights


Kings Canyon National Park, with its deep valleys, towering mountains, and ancient sequoias, serves as a vibrant sanctuary for diverse wildlife species, offering visitors a window into the complex ecosystems of California’s Sierra Nevada.

Black Bear A frequent sight in the park, Black Bears vary in color from black to brown, foraging through forests and meadows for berries and nuts.

Mule Deer Graceful Mule Deer, with their large ears and powerful legs, are commonly seen at dawn and dusk, browsing the park’s undergrowth and open meadows.

Mountain Lion The elusive Mountain Lion, a solitary predator, roams the park’s vast wilderness, a rare but awe-inspiring sight for those lucky enough to spot one.

Bighorn Sheep Endangered Bighorn Sheep, with their distinctive curved horns, navigate the park’s rocky outcrops and cliffs, a symbol of wilderness and survival.

Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep A special mention for the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, a subspecies unique to the Sierra Nevada range, currently the focus of conservation efforts due to their endangered status.

Western Gray Squirrel The Western Gray Squirrel, larger than other squirrels, is notable for its bushy tail and prefers the park’s oak and pine forests.

American Dipper The American Dipper, remarkable for its underwater foraging, is often seen along the park’s streams and rivers, diving and walking on the bottom to feed.

Steller’s Jay Loud and colorful, Steller’s Jay is easily recognized by its striking blue body and black crest, often encountered in campgrounds and picnic areas.

Mountain Chickadee The cheerful Mountain Chickadee, identified by its black cap and bib, is a common resident, flitting through coniferous forests even in snowy conditions.

Peregrine Falcon The Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest bird, nests on the park’s cliff faces, diving at incredible speeds to catch its prey mid-air.

Kings Canyon National Park’s wildlife, from the adaptable Black Bear to the swift Peregrine Falcon, embodies the resilience and beauty of life in one of the most majestic landscapes on Earth, inviting exploration and admiration from all who visit.

Engaging Kings Canyon

Explore the breathtaking landscapes of Kings Canyon National Park on its extensive network of hiking trails. From leisurely walks to challenging treks, the park offers options for hikers of all abilities.

Traverse ancient forests, rugged canyons, and alpine meadows as you discover the park’s diverse ecosystems and stunning scenery. Highlights include the Mist Falls Trail, which leads to a spectacular waterfall, and the Rae Lakes Loop, a multi-day backpacking adventure that offers panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Hiking in Kings Canyon provides opportunities to connect with nature and experience the beauty of California’s wilderness firsthand.

Experience the beauty of Kings Canyon National Park from the comfort of your car on one of its scenic drives. Cruise along the Generals Highway, which winds through towering forests, granite cliffs, and majestic valleys, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Stop at scenic overlooks and viewpoints along the way to capture photographs of the park’s iconic landmarks, including the towering granite dome of Moro Rock and the cascading waters of Grizzly Falls. Scenic drives in Kings Canyon provide a leisurely and immersive way to explore the park’s natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Embark on a backpacking adventure in Kings Canyon National Park and explore its remote and rugged backcountry. Trek through ancient forests, along rushing rivers, and over high mountain passes as you journey deep into the heart of the Sierra Nevada wilderness.

Choose from a variety of multi-day backpacking routes, such as the John Muir Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, which pass through the park’s pristine landscapes and offer opportunities for solitude and reflection amidst nature.

Backpacking in Kings Canyon provides a true wilderness experience, allowing you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with the natural world

Kings Canyon National Park Trails

Zumwalt Meadow Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.5 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This gentle loop offers stunning views of high granite walls, a lush meadow, and the Kings River. Boardwalks and a well-maintained path lead through diverse terrains, including forests and meadows. It’s an excellent trail for all ages, providing a close-up look at the serene beauty and grandeur of Kings Canyon.

Mist Falls Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 800 feet (244 meters)

Description: Leading to one of the largest waterfalls in Kings Canyon, this trail offers a moderate hike along the Kings River. Hikers will pass through pine forests and meadows, with the roar of the falls growing louder as you approach. The mist from the falls provides a refreshing respite on warm days.

Rae Lakes Loop

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 41.4 miles loop with significant elevation gain

Description: This challenging multi-day hike is one of the most popular in the Sierra Nevada, offering spectacular views of alpine lakes, mountain passes, and meadows. Hikers will traverse diverse ecosystems and experience the remote backcountry of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. A wilderness permit is required for overnight trips.

Big Baldy Ridge Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 600 feet (183 meters)

Description: This trail leads to the summit of Big Baldy, offering panoramic views of the Great Western Divide and the foothills. The gradual ascent through pine forests opens up to reveal stunning vistas from the top. It’s an excellent day hike for those looking to experience the park’s vastness without a strenuous climb.

General Grant Tree Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.8 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: This short, family-friendly loop leads to the General Grant Tree, the second-largest tree in the world. The trail is accessible and offers a leisurely walk through a grove of giant sequoias, providing an up-close look at these ancient giants. Informative plaques along the way educate visitors about the ecology of the sequoia groves.


1. What is Kings Canyon National Park known for?

Kings Canyon National Park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, is renowned for its dramatic landscapes, deep canyons, and towering sequoia trees.

The park is home to Kings Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America, as well as numerous waterfalls, including the impressive 1,200-foot-tall cascades of Grizzly Falls.

Visitors come to Kings Canyon to explore its rugged terrain, hike among ancient forests, and marvel at the towering giant sequoias in the park’s groves, such as the General Grant Grove and the famous General Sherman Tree, the largest tree on earth by volume.

Additionally, Kings Canyon offers opportunities for camping, backpacking, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

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