Kings Canyon Turns 67
Although not as old as Hot Springs National Park, Kings Canyon National Park also celebrates a birthday today. It's 67 if you're keeping count.
The wilder half of Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Kings Canyon is a rugged, less visited swath of the High Sierra. But then, that's probably because it's more difficult to reach, requiring a steep, twisting descent down California 180, aka the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, and because there's only one small lodge at the bottom of the highway.
True, there is a tiny annex of the park that's hooked onto the northwestern shoulder of Sequoia, and that is where you'll find Grant Grove and the General Grant Tree and the bulk of the visitors to Kings Canyon.
To reach the heart and soul of Kings Canyon, though, you must embark down California 180. But the trip is worth it. Down at the bottom of the highway at Cedar Grove Village you'll not only find the small lodge and an equally small restaurant but a handful of nice campgrounds, the South Fork of the Kings River, and a few trailheads that will lead you into the high country.
No doubt part of the reason Kings Canyon doesn't get as much attention as its sibling is because it doesn't claim quite as many mighty sequoia trees. But that's OK, for this park's reputation is built on its rugged backcountry offerings, and that reputation is well-deserved.