After ending our magical time at Yosemite, we ventured towards Visalia, CA, which was conveniently located about 45 minutes from the entrance of Sequoia National Park. I won’t spend too much time reminiscing about our time in Visalia, but if you’d ask me or my friend, this was probably the worst part of our trip. When we were researching where to stay, this KOA seemed like the perfect place—we would save money by camping, but would have access to showers since it was a KOA, and it was conveniently located near Sequoia National Park. What we did not know was this KOA was located in the middle of a city (and not exactly in the best part, either), our tent location was less than ideal (right under a very bright street light), our air mattress got a hole in it and wouldn’t stay inflated for anything, our firewood would not ignite, which meant we couldn’t start a fire to cook our dinner, there were flies EVERYWHERE, it felt like a sauna outside (98+ degrees), and we were just straight up grumpy. Luckily, my friend and I are pretty good at moving past the bumps in the road you inevitably come across while traveling, and were able to wake up with a much better attitude than what we went to sleep with. We knew in a few days we would be sleeping in a nice bed at an Airbnb, so I think that kept us going, too!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are two separate National Parks, but have been jointly administered since 1943. Sequoia National Park was actually America’s 2nd National Park, established in 1890, while Kings Canyon was not founded until 1940. The parks have a combined size of 1,353 square miles and both hold incredible diversity and beauty. From foothills, to mountains, to canyons, to housing some of the world’s largest trees, there is so much to explore.
We spent all day going between the two parks. We began our time in Sequoia, hiking the Moro Rock trail. Moro Rock is a steep hike that follows a rocky stairway up 400+ stairs. It’s a dome-shaped, granite formation with a beautiful, panoramic summit view, if you can make it there. While it is a short hike, maybe taking 30-45 minutes round-trip to complete, it is not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights.
Following Moro Rock, we drove around admiring the famous giant trees:
- Tunnel Log: Named for the large tunnel cut through the trunk after it fell across the road in December of 1937. There is a bypass near the tree, which allows larger vehicles to avoid the tunnel.
- Auto Log: Named for another large tree falling across the same road, which used to allow horse-drawn carriages and cars to drive across the fallen trunk. However, this log is no longer able to support the weight of vehicles, but you are still allowed to walk the length of the trunk.
- General Sherman: Largest tree in the WORLD.
- The President: Oldest tree in Sequoia National Park.
- The House & The Senate: Cluster of giant redwoods located near The President in the Giant Forest.
- Plus many, many more !!
Kings Canyon National Park is located within California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and is also known for its giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon’s most famous tree is probably the General Grant Tree, located in Grant Grove. We hiked around this tree, and were also rewarded with lots of canyon views throughout the park. After that, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center area to enjoy some ice cream and write on our postcards before driving more along the scenic route. We hiked to panoramic point before eventually driving back to Visalia.