sequoia + kings canyon national park
This was our first "adult" trip (aka trip we remembered since we weren't 3 years old) to Sequoia + King Canyon National Park - another two parks crossed off our list! We drove 4 hours into the parks on a Wednesday morning, explored both parks on Thursday and said adios to these beautiful places by Friday midday. If you're looking for a short trip that will refresh your energy, THIS IS IT. Nathan and I have been STRESSED AF - career changes, less than 2 months away from our weddings - and OH we're also renovating & moving into a new house. Feeling 100% blessed and so very grateful that we have each other to get through it all in one piece, but both of us were in need of a reset by nature and this was the perfect trip!
OUR CAMPSITE + THE PARKS
If you take a look at a map of the park, it's a little weird. The national parks are stacked right on top of each other with the Sequoia National Forest immediately to the West of them. There's only one main road that leads through the parks, but this makes it easy to hop between them.
We camped at Big Meadow Campground, which ended up being a great central place between the two parks and away from all the car traffic. We made friends with our campsite host, Larry, who treated us like gems and introduced us to his guard dog: a little chihuahua. Even though the site was farther away from the main park roads, it was pretty packed and very clean! Outdoor bathrooms were cleaned 3x a day by Larry and each site had a bear cages for food storage, a fire ring + a picnic table. Yes! There are black bears in the area so you need to be diligent about putting food and scented items into your bear cages when camping. We saw zero bears but plenty of deer and cattle! I LOVED our campground and can't wait to go back. If you want the same one as us, choose #006. Bring your bug spray in the summertime :)
KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK
The road on the North side of the fork that separates the parks leads you into Kings Canyon National Park. We drove this main road all the way down Kings Canyon scenic byway until we hit Zumwalt Meadows and Roads End. Just the drive was insanely beautiful and highly suggested! Put on your favorite music and you've hit road trip heaven Our favorite spots we hit are below:
GENERAL GRANT TREE So you thought only Sequoia had big trees? Think again. General Grant was our first big tree we saw and were completely in awe of. It's the second largest tree in the world and only a 0.3 mile stroll. There is a loop that keeps going and you can walk through the interior of a tree, explore an old cabin with a fun story and gaze upward at other giants.
HUME LAKE We had lunch at Hume Lake and made friends with some ducks :) It's such a peaceful lake without any boat activity but you can fish or rent kayaks! Definitely a little gem. PANORAMIC POINT A quick stop at point gave us some breathtaking views of the canyon and trees. It's a fun little pit stop that took us about 10 minutes and is a great place to stretch out our legs. Theres some fun rock piles there to check out, too.
KING CANYON SCENIC BYWAYThis drive was ammmmmazing. If you're planning to go to Zumwalt Meadows and Roaring River Falls, you'll end up taking this road down. It's an intense drive but the views are spectacular and worth it as you make your way to the bottom of the canyon.
ZUMWALT MEADOWS I loved this hike! It's 1.5 miles round trip but we only went about a mile because the meadow was flooded out and we could only go so far. It's a fun walk over a bridge, through the trees and out to the meadow where you can see some amazing granite monoliths. We ate a few snacks on bench in front of the meadow to take it all in.
ROARING RIVER FALLS This was a breezy 0.2 mile walk and was definitely worth it! Since we went at the end of summer, these were definitely ROARING. The water spray was a nice way to cool off in the head under the shade and who doesn't love a good waterfall?
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
We LOVED Sequoia and this was definitely our favorite park out of the two. Driving into the forest here felt like we were in a different world and I wanted to pull the car over around every corner. We went here in the afternoon, so we didn't get as much time in this park, but were able to get some good hikes in!
GENERAL SHERMAN TREEOk we guiltily didn't go on this trail (even thought we should have) because it was 6pm, hot as heck and we were dead from our hikes that we had went on throughout the day. I'm already planning our trip back so we can see the largest tree (by volume) in the world! Hike the 1 mile loop to feast your eyes on the 275 ft tall x 36.5 ft wide tree.
BIG TREES LOOP This easy .06 mile loop is a lovely stroll through some of the biggest trees ever and a beautiful meadow. I'm all about a good meadow moment! We loved walking up to and even hugging some of these big beauties. It feels so surreal to be so small next to these trees.
MORO ROCKMoro Rock and the Tunnel Log were my two most favorite things to do in Sequoia. It's a short 0.5 mile hike but the CLIMB and elevation gain throughout is 300 feet. It felt like I was scaling a mountain (or in this case granite dome) and I was beat by the top. It was such an incredible climb though and next time I hope to make it at sunrise. Once you get to the top, you're a whopping 6,725 feet above sea level. Although the climb is steep, there are plenty of guard rails to keep you on track. Be sure to bring water for this one and take breaks!
TUNNEL LOG + CRESCENT MEADOWS The drive to Tunnel Log and this part of the part was breathtaking. I can still smell the moss in the air and feel the cool wind as we drove through the trees. John Muir once called this area the "Gem of the Sierra" and it didn't disappoint! We arrived at tunnel log around 5pm - there were about 3-4 cars there waiting their turn to drive through the log. Not too bad for a weekday! There was a family who wouldn't climb off the top of the log for photos though, which ended up getting on everyones nerves, so we came back around 20 minutes later to a line of 0 cars and absolute silence. It was so fun driving through this log and grabbing photos of Zoe underneath. It's a really magical moment that you should do if you get the chance.
WOOHOO! If you made it to the end of this post, I'm so proud of you. I can't wait until we head back to these parks and explore them even further. If you have any further questions or things we may have missed, leave us a comment below! Xo, Sami