Monday, December 20, 2021

Kings Canyon National Park

Trip date: May 2021

Day 5. Sequoia to Kings Canyon - 50 miles

It's a short drive from the Wuksachi Lodge to the John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, just about 50 miles. As I drove the weather turned pretty dramatically and got very cold. 

I checked in at the lodge, a 2-story log cabin style with a big fireplace in the lobby. My room was on the ground floor; nice and large and just a bit run down. Originally I had planned to do a couple of short hikes after checking in but it was so cold, foggy, and damp that I changed my plans.

The lodge didn't have a dining room, or maybe it does but was closed because of Covid, but there is a little village near by with gift shops, a convenience store, and a restaurant (outdoor seating only). I drove over, picked up some wine at the grocery and some warm chili and a salad for dinner and headed back to the lodge. The little storm that had swept in was really cold, the altitude didn't help.

Back at the lodge I hung out in the lobby with some of the other guests, we all chatted about our road trips, gave advice for the different parks, and shared tips on hiking. It felt so normal, so nice, after a year of being on edge around every stranger for fear of coronavirus. 

The front desk person finally made a fire in the fireplace, after everyone repeatedly requested one all afternoon. It was so cozy! A really nice and relaxing day.

The next morning was sunny and bright again. I was really happy that I had skipped hiking the day before, as it just wouldn't have been as enjoyable. I checked out, stopped back in the village for a quick coffee and to mail some postcards, and then made my way to Grants Grove. 

This super short and easy loop thru a grove of giant sequoias includes the 2nd largest sequoia in the world. The General Grant tree is estimated to be 3000 years old, is 267 feet tall and nearly 29 feet wide at the base.

But the grove has other really interesting trees as well! 

The Fallen Monarch, a hollow, downed sequoia fell about 300 years ago. There was a family who lived in it for 10 years in 1868. Then it was used as a hotel for a number of years. And in 1890 it was used as a stable for the US Calvary for 14 years! I just had my coffee in it :)

It was truly a lovely place to wander!

From here I drove down into Kings Canyon to Grizzly Falls. Kings River Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in North America, in fact it is deeper than the Grand Canyon with canyon walls reaching 8200 feet!

Driving that deep from 6000 feet altitude actually gave me quite the vertigo. The road is VERY windy with big drops down to the river below. I took it easy and it took me about an hour to get to the falls. 

It's a stunning area, and I wish I would have had a full day to do the drive more leisurely and explore a bit more. But I was very happy to get a glimpse. And what a glimpse it was!!

I drove back out, really feeling the drastic change in altitude and drove back out of the park the same way I had entered 4 days before. I now had a big 5 hour drive to my next destination; Yosemite!

All photos of Sequoia/Kings Canyon here

Other posts from this trip:

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