Forest fire in Kings Canyon NP

Forest fire in Kings Canyon NP

Sitting right on top of Sequoia National Park with all its mondo huge trees is a lesser known park called Kings Canyon National Park. What’s there? Kings? Canyons? I dunno… but since it’s right there, we might as well go check it out! Turns out the place was unbelievably awesome, far exceeding my almost non-existent expectations.

General Grant Tree

One of the first things we saw was the General Grant Tree. While the General Sherman tree back in Sequoia NP is considered to be the largest living thing on earth given the volume of its trunk, it is neither the oldest, tallest, nor widest tree on earth. Seems like “biggest” is a relative title. In any event, at its base, the widest diameter is about 33 feet.

Here in Kings Canyon NP, you’ll find the General Grant Tree whose big claim to fame is that it holds the record for the tree with the widest base at 40 feet in diameter.

General Grant Tree

General Grant Tree

Fallen Monarch

The park also has a sweet fallen Sequoia you can walk through called Fallen Monarch. The thing is ginormous…

Checking out the inside of Fallen Monarch

Checking out the inside of Fallen Monarch

Looks like a home, no? Even has a sunroof! According to the interpretive sign, this log has not only been used as a shelter to many animals, but it’s also served as an employee camp, a house, and a even saloon! Looks like a sweet place to grab a beer, no? πŸ™‚

Fallen Monarch interpretive sign

Fallen Monarch interpretive sign

King River

Now it turns out that Kings Canyon features a gorgeous scenic drive through a canyon. You drive up along the rim and down in the gorge. The river that flows through is called Kings River. Very fitting, eh?

The drive up along the rim was absolutely spectacular. OMG…

Looking down at the river far below, we thought about grabbing a pull-out and hiking down to the water, but deciding against it and drove a bit farther where we discovered that the road actually went down to the river itself and so we found stopped here to go for a swim.

Taking a swim break in Kings River

Taking a swim break in Kings River

Nearby were also some big boulders to both have lunch on top of and jump off the top of.

The river that flows through the canyon is wonderful… Given the choice between oceans, lakes, and rivers/creeks, I’d pick the latter any day of the week. mmmm… πŸ™‚

Kings River

Kings River

In parks you’ll find markets that sell food, drinks, postcards, clothing, and other goodies. We stopped by to grab a snack and in the parking lot, we spotted smoke in the distance. Forest fire!!

Forest Fire

Forest fire in Kings Canyon NP

Forest fire in Kings Canyon NP

Turns out that the rangers all already knew about it. In fact, this fire started about three weeks earlier! A bolt of lightning hit the bullseye and the fire had been blazing ever since.

While fires are bad for human houses and are thus considered a threat in the civilized world, they are actually an integral and necessary part of the forest’s process. As explained on an official announcement that the National Park Service put out, “Lightning fires that can be safely managed promote forest health. Regular lightning fires limit the size and severity of subsequent fires and help to create a mosaic of diverse habitats for plants and animals.”

So while the fires are monitored and dealt with when they become a threat to people, they are typically otherwise left to burn since they’re actually an important part of the natural life.

It was so amazing to watch, nature’s beautiful might in action.

A little ways further into the park, we were treated to a more up-close and personal view of the fire’s aftermath.

Burnt trees

Burnt trees

Really beautiful…

Speaking of beautiful, let’s make a quick stop to see Canyon View!

Canyon View

Canyon View

Canyon View

Like the famous Yosemite Valley to the north in Yosemite NP, Kings Canyon was also carved by glaciers.

Backing up a bit to give you more of a behind-the-scenes look as to what it’s like there, there’s this stone structure with a handy explanation of the history behind this place. Also makes for a good viewpoint to stand on top of! It’s where the above photo was taken from.

Ariel checking out Canyon View

Ariel checking out Canyon View

Backing up even more, you’ll find this sign leading to the entrance of the parking lot. ID shots of signs are really handy. Usually I shoot them for informational purposes to get explanations, location names, and correct spellings for blog posts like these, but sometimes even ID shots themselves can look pretty cool.) πŸ™‚

Arriving at Canyon View (ID shot)

Arriving at Canyon View (ID shot)

Knapp’s Cabin

In the valley surrounded by these gorgeous mountains, you’ll also find Knapp’s Cabin, a storage shed built for a wealthy California businessman during the roaring twenties when the dude made these elaborate summer camping trips into this region of the Sierras.

Ariel at Knapp's Cabin

Ariel at Knapp's Cabin

It was right alongside this beautiful little creek and large open field, surrounded by mountains. Just beautiful. I could see myself living in a place like this. Totally… πŸ™‚

Roaring River Falls

Also in Kings Canyon you’ll find Roaring River Falls, a nice little waterfall with a paved tourist-friendly trail leading right up to the base of it.

Walking up to Roaring River Falls

Walking up to Roaring River Falls

pshhhhhh (that’s the sound of the crashing water) πŸ™‚

Perhaps less commonly walked in this area, however, are the boulders off to the side of the falls that make for a good platform to jump off of.

Alex jumping into Roaring River Falls

Alex jumping into Roaring River Falls

This was definitely a cool place, far more awesome than I had anticipated. Yet we wouldn’t stay here long.

After our trek through Kings Canyon, we headed west into Fresno, CA to sleep in a real bed, shower, and replenish our food supply after camping for several nights through Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Our next stretch of this trip would be Yosemite NP!

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