Yosemite to Kings Canyon NP

Kings Canyon National Park Travel Blog

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9.20.08 Yosemite to Kings Canyon


We left Yosemite, after talking with our Lazy Daze neighbor, Gary, who’d learned that a forest fire in Sequoia grew by about 30% last night to over 1200 acres.  We called Ned, who did some internet research for us and learned that we would not have delays likely until 5pm, when they would create firebands near the roadway to stop the fire from spreading.  However, not all the fire was controlled yet.


We stopped in Yosemite, while heading south, to admire just the wisps of Bridalveil Falls, with water so light that most of the mist evaporated before it reached the bottom.

  With that spectacular sheet of rockface, the river rocks below, and as close as one can get on just a short walk, I’m certain it’s a spectacular waterfall in wetter weather.  We were glad to see it regardless, as it is one of the superlative falls of Yellowstone (one of the 7 tallest in the world?)


We also admired from an overlook, the majestic “Tunnel View” of the canyon with El Capitan in the distance.  Jazy noted that’s the same view as on the cover of our “National Parks of the West” book that we’ve been using.


The Wawona area is in the southern section of Yosemite and while it had a grand lodge and many buses, it was smaller than I’d imagined and far away from the Valley.  I was happy our campground choices had been farther north for our overview tour of the park.


The several hours drive south and through Fresno was pretty with dry hillsides, easy freeways, and then finally the Sierra Mountains leading into Kings Canyon NP and Sequoia NP.

Roaring Rapids Falls


Have you ever heard of Kings Canyon NP?  I had not, but it is clearly marked on our National Parks Map that hangs on our RV refrigerator door.  The two parks (Kings Canyon and Sequoia) are zoned together so that entrance stations cover both parks. 


There are several visitors’ centers and we first went to the one at Grant Grove Village, which is the northern entrance of the two western parks entrances.  It was a wonderful visitors’ center with a movie, exhibits, and a “Discovery Room” for kids, with animal scat puzzles and a backpacker’s tent to climb in and explore. 


We pestered the Rangers several times for various info on campgrounds, roads, the wildfire still burning in the park, and whether we could fit on the road that is “not advised” for rigs over 22 feet, etc.

Hiking in Kings Canyon
  I think the poor Rangers are tired this late in the season - most have lost any hope for a sense of humor.  I’m sure on a final Saturdays of the season, I’d be a bit grumbly too.  I can definitely visualize, for our movie script, a Ranger strangling a quizzical park visitor.


Lodgepole Campground, located south of our entrance and in the Sequoia NP section, is full tonight!  It is a very large campground, so that was surprising to me.  I was glad to get that info at the Visitor’s Center in advance.


We took an hour drive along Park Road 180 headed north and then east-we almost made it to “road end” before setting up camp in Sentinel Campground in Cedar Grove Village.  There are about 5 campgrounds, all dry camping, right here at the Cedar Grove Village near “road end”, and they all seem respectably full tonight.

Gorgeous river in Kings Canyon
  It is self-register, although I did see a Ranger patrol, with most campers in tents (which really looks like a lot of work to me). 


“Village” for Cedar Grove Village is a loose term which means there’s one building with showers/laundry, one building with gifts/store, and one building with info/visitor’s center/Ranger.  But if you’re looking for services in the wilderness, this is a welcome “village.”


Let me tell you about the Park Road 180 out here to Sentinel Campground and Cedar Grove Village:  It was incredibly beautiful!  There are enormous (I mean “huge!”), majestic, jagged mountains carved millions of years ago by glaciers.  Lia said the mountains resemble a king’s crown with jewels and is thus called “Kings Canyon.

Charles and gorgeous river in Kings Canyon


There’s a stunningly clear, emerald-colored river that tumbles over river rocks.  The river cut a V-shape through mountains, which you can see on the other side of the road on a mountain pass, opposite the glacier U-shaped canyon.  The waterfalls on that river are so gorgeous that I had to remind myself they’re real-they look like a water garden! 


At one point on the road, we were high above the river, thousands of feet.  Then we were down at river level, looking up at the towering rocks.  Heaven help us if a rockfall began or we had to evacuate because there’s no other way out but by helicopter.  Sometimes the rocks along the roadside were so close or even overhanging that I had to swerve to avoid them with the RV.  It is rugged, beautiful nature with the rock faces full of variations of orange, green, wavy, striated, jagged, and stunningly beautiful.

Grizzly Falls in Kings Canyon
  And to think that I’d never heard of this amazing destination!


Technically, one arrives in Kings Canyon National Park about 2 miles before this Cedar Grove Village, just a few miles before “road end.”  Until that point, it is Giant Sequoia National Monument and the Sequoia National Forest.


So what about the enormous trees?  We’ll have to hike out to “Grant’s Grove” tomorrow in Grant Grove Village (where we went to the Visitor’s Center today) to admire the great sequoias.

Also, we’ll head south from there into the rest of Sequoia NP.  We saw one giant tree when we drove into the parks initially, but we’ll go in search of the giant trees tomorrow.


There are two entrances into the parks from the west, but there are no roads that fully cross the park, nor any that enter the parks from the east because of the Sierra Mountain range.  It would also be a long way around  to the west and I will be sorely disappointed if I’m forbidden from driving south fully into Sequoia NP and on out the southern road 198 because of Ciao Baby’s length.  I’m hoping there are not tape-measure bearing, no-sense-of-humor Rangers blocking my access.  Surely my experiences with challenging roads have taught me enough driving finesse to handle some tight hairpin turns, right?!  Will keep you posted on that driving adventure attempt tomorrow.

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Roaring Rapids Falls
Roaring Rapids Falls
Hiking in Kings Canyon
Hiking in Kings Canyon
Gorgeous river in Kings Canyon
Gorgeous river in Kings Canyon
Charles and gorgeous river in King…
Charles and gorgeous river in Kin…
Grizzly Falls in Kings Canyon
Grizzly Falls in Kings Canyon
Lias geode
Lia's geode
Cracking Lias geode
Cracking Lia's geode
Kings Canyon National Park
photo by: saltycoco