California Vacation 2011: Kings Canyon

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Jason and I awoke in our Visalia hotel room ready to get our trip back on track. We had already decided to go all the way into Kings Canyon and work our way backwards. When we were still staying in Three Rivers, this was going to mean a four-hour drive to our start point for the day 😯 Now that we were west of there, we decided to detour along the western edges of the parks. We wound up shaving about two hours off the drive into Kings Canyon. At least something positive came out of our terrible first evening.

As with Yosemite, a seemingly small area on the map is actually quite large. Add in mountain roads full of switchbacks, and you are driving a lot farther than you’d think. So when it is reiterated again and again that no gas is sold in the parks and that you prepare by filling up before, they really aren’t joking. This morning, we were a little too eager to get back on the road and failed to fill up. We realized this in enough time to hit one of the fill-up points in the neighboring national forest, Hume Lake.

It was a beautiful little side trip.

Hume Lake

Hume Lake

Kings River Canyon

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Laura Enjoying the Mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains

The drive into the Kings River Canyon was beyond amazing! Talk about incredible mountain scenery. We were pretty much in awe the whole time. No matter what awaited us at Roads End (literally the name of the endpoint of the Kings River Scenic Byway), the drive was more than worth the trip.

Kings River

Onward to our destination!
Road to Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon National Park

Jason and I did lunch in Cedar Grove Village, doing our best to avoid the groups of super annoying and rude people who were visiting in force that day. While in the canyon, we wanted to do a little hiking and check out at least one waterfall.

We decided to hike the short nature trail around Zumwalt Meadow.

Zumwalt Meadow

Big Tree

Note that the tree above was not a sequoia, despite what we overheard a father telling his young son. When his son asked how he knew it was a giant sequoia, the dad told him it was because the tree was big. Uh huh. Just for the record, it was an incense-cedar.

Just past the “big tree,” we came across an unwelcome element of the wild…

Last summer, I was so excited about our wildlife spottings. We saw all of the animals I wanted to see – deer, bears, marmots, even a coyote – and none of the animals I didn’t want to see. On this jaunt through Zumwalt Meadow, we came across one of the animals I didn’t want to see – a rattlesnake.

A couple coming towards us spotted it and announced its presence. Then, the guy proceeded to get closer to it. Smart.


With the snake sighting, I was extra alert and anxious like I had been the night before near Hospital Rock. Again, this park freaked me out.

Moving on…

The Kings River
Kings River

Zumwalt Meadow

I understand the comparisons to Yosemite Valley.
Zumwalt Meadow

After our nice loop through Zumwalt Meadow, we started working out way out of the valley. First, we stopped at Canyon View…

Kings Canyon

And Roaring River Falls.

Roaring River Falls

As we walked back down from the base of the falls – after watching idiots scaling the cliffs along the water – we found ourselves behind an obnoxious groups of guys, beers in hand. Our tolerance for stupid started to crack at this point.

The area was so incredibly beautiful, but we could have done without the people. While it was clearly not as crowded as Yosemite Valley, the people that were there were out of control rude. I would love to return, but only to visit the backcountry – which, of course, accounts for the majority of the parks.

Goodbye Kings Canyon
Leaving the Kings Canyon Area

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