Day 290 – Kings Canyon National Park, October 2, 2011
Over the past year, I heard that Kings Canyon and Sequoia
National Parks are as pretty as Yosemite, but without the crowds. Before returning to Texas, I thought I would
see about that and drove 50 miles east from Fresno to the Northwest entrance of
Kings Canyon National Park.
My first stop was to see the General Grant Tree, a giant
sequoia. In fact, it is the widest known
sequoia, forty feet across, and the third largest tree in the world in terms of
volume. It stands 268 feet high, weighs
1,254 tons, and its circumference is 107 feet around. Its largest branch is 4.5 feet in diameter
and its first branch is 129 feet from the ground. A few interesting facts about the tree:
- If its
trunk were a gas tank on a car that got 25 mpg, you could drive around the
earth 350 times without refueling.
- It would take 20 people holding hands to circle
- If its trunk were filled with basketballs, it
would hold 159,000; and 37 million ping pong balls.
- President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the General
Grant Tree to be the Nation’s Christmas Tree in 1926. In 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower designated it a
National Shrine; a living memorial to those who have given their lives for our
After taking the half-mile walk through the sequoia grove, I
steered VANilla along what seemed like an endless road…up, down, sideways,
left, right, snaking, winding, curving. It
wound thirty miles through the forest and skirts the canyon’s edge all the way
down to the river. The best way to
describe the road is to post a picture of the signs attached to water troughs
that say “Do Not Drink…For Radiators Only”.
The cliffs reflecting a myriad of shades; browns, greens,
greys, were dotted with trees and towered above the river below. I followed the river all the way to Roaring
River Falls where I took a short walk along a paved trail through the trees to
a waterfall that surged between granite walls.
After visiting this waterfall, we retraced our steps toward
the entrance and stopped at handful of overlooks on our way. Many of the overlooks are actually in the
Sequoia National Forest as the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway passes through forest
land to reach the park. One of the stops
in the forest land was Grizzly Falls.
Because it was in the national forest and not the national park, Petey
got to take the short fifty foot walk to see the water bounce and spray over
the rocky ledge.
From this waterfall, we briefly stopped at a cave, but it
required guided tours which left on the hour for $13. I’ve seen enough caves over the last year, so I
opted out of waiting half an hour. At
the gift shop; however, a sign stating “You Break It, You Buy It” caught my
eye. At first, I thought REALLY. They have posted a sign like that for junky
souvenirs?!? Then I saw geodes and a
vice. People who want a geode can pick a
rock and break it open…and of course buy it.
I thought it was clever.
While the park was lovely, I wouldn’t compare it to
Yosemite. Kings Canyon’s peaks are
jagged, while Yosemite’s are smooth, polished, and very unique. I’ll be curious to see Sequoia National Park
tomorrow. I have found a campground
close to the border of both parks. It is
an ideal location except for the fact two forest fires are burning within the
park…one very close to the campground. I’m
not too excited over the smoke! Oh well,
it’s my last few, fulltime days in nature…I’ll make the most of it. ETB