As always, I enjoyed talking to the people I met along the way; both rangers/ other workers and fellow travelers. Here are three of the rangers I talked two and two girls from the Ukraine that were working at the snack bar.
Although I have photos identified of our visit to Kings Canyon park, I am getting the details from the NPS website because it has been almost 40 years since we were there.
"The General Grant is the third largest tree in the world and the Nation's Christmas Tree. It has been designated a National Shrine, the only living memorial to Americans who died in war. Signs describe many of the features along this 1/3 mile, paved trail, including the historic Gamlin Cabin and the Fallen Monarch. You may also buy a more detailed trail booklet at the trailhead or visitor center book store. The trail begins 1 mile northwest of the visitor center. "
"The General Grant Tree was discovered in 1862 by Joseph Hardin Thomas and named in 1867 by Lucretia Baker. Five years later, on March 1, 1872, Ulysses Grant, now president of the United States, signed the bill designating Yellowstone as the world's first national park. The area around the Grant Grove of giant sequoias was set aside in 1890 as General Grant National Park. (Yosemite National Park was created in the same piece of legislation.) In 1940, General Grant was included in the newly created Kings Canyon National Park."
The URL given is for a virtual tour.
Boyden Caverns is located at 74101 E. Kings Canyon Road, in Kings Canyon National Park, California. You must pay park entry, and the cavern has its own fee, not included in the entry into the park. The actual walking tour is about 45 minutes long, and is not wheel chair accessible. To get to the entry of the walking tour, you must walk up a fairly steep, narrow but railed and paved, walkway. Parking is fine for passenger cars, but trailers and motor homes will find it a challenge if the lot is full.
If you are in this area, we highly recommend visiting the caverns. Especially on a hot day. The cavern temperature remains a constant 55 degrees, so you may want to bring a jacket with you. They are managed by a non-government agency. There is a gift shop and picnic tables are available with beautiful views of the roaring river and steep cliffs. Generally, tours are available from some time in April to some time in November. You can check their web site for days and hours of operation.
The walking tour is about $15 for agest 13 and older. This is a bit pricey for 45 minutes, but what you are seeing is unusual and every step of the way brings new things to see, so I think it's worth it. Only small children who get tired quickly won't like this because of the walking after all, but what kid doesn't like rocks! Look at the photos and if you think you might want to go, it's very much worth the stop when you are in the area. There are also rappelling and canyoneering tours available.
Tharp's Cabin has the distinction of being not only the oldest pioneer cabin in the park but also home to its first non-Naive settler, Hale Tharp who established a cattle ranch in the 1860s. Located in the Giant Forest area, one can see what attracted him to the area and this rustic cabin made from a fallen tree was deemed “a noble den” by no less than John Muir himself.
The Giant Forest Museum is a great place to start your exploration of the park. This state of the art visitor center does a great job of trying to explain not only just how amazing these incredible trees are but also how much we have learned to better preserve them. It is one of the most popular stops in the park so expect crowds. It is serviced in summer by the park's new shuttle. It is surrounded by some beautiful sequoias and is the starting point for the Big Trees Trail.
The Big Trees Loop is a wheel chair accessible paved trail that gives everyone a chance to truly experience being in a forest of sequoia. This 1.2 mile loop picks up only 60 feet and if you are visiting the Giant Forest Museum, this is a must.
This is a very pleasant little walk - it's an easy, paved, fairly level, and accessible trail (mostly paved, some boardwalk.) It circles around a nice open meadow, and you'll get to view the giant sequoia groves that surround it. You'll learn along the way about why the trees grow so well in the area (and why they do so well near meadows), and learn how to differentiate between younger and older trees. At certain times of the year, the meadows are in full bloom which has to add to the beauty of the walk. The meadow walks were my favorite stops in the park - truly beautiful.
While the trail itself is a little under a mile, you have to add a bit of distance because you need to park up by the Giant Forest Museum and walk down to the trailhead. This isn't a hardship of any sort, just a point of interest.
As you might guess, this is a tree that fell many years ago - folks would drive their car on it for the novelty. You can't do that anymore, and as a result, the only real reason to stop is to perhaps get a picture of the sign since the tree itself wasn't much to look at in my opinion. It's right off the road around Moro Rock.
You can climb to the top of this granite dome - there's a 400 step staircase (exciting flimsy rail and all) that changes in elevation 300 feet. Put those two numbers together and you've got a 15 minute climb that will leave you out of breath! From all I read, and viewing the placards at the top of the climb, the view will leave you breathless as well, but I can't vouch for that as you can see from the pictures. I was hoping to at least get a glimpse of something, but not this time. If the day is clear, I recommend it. If not - move along....
Known to some as the "Gem of the Sierra", this is one of the greener and prettier areas you will see in Sequoia. There are a few trails that wrap through the area, I took one that looped through the meadow and went past Tharps Log. Here. a settler (named Tharp of course!), built a summer cabin in the 1860's inside a fallen Sequoia. You can poke your head in the cabin and see if you can fathom how anyone could live in there!
The trail itself is fairly easy. It's flat and definitely picturesque. There are many open meadows that you will pass, as well as plenty of hiking through the woods. The trail took me just under an hour to complete the loop.
Although this picture is from 1929, I remember the same cross section as the visitor center. These trees are so ancient that even their stumps can exist forever. If I remember correctly, this tree was already several years old by the time of Christ and the Roman Empire. It was hundreds of years old when Mahommad (sp?) walked the earth and it's 1st millenium was during the was before the spice road from China to Europe as in full swing and Europeans had no idea that the 'America's even existed.
This is the largest living thing on Earth. This tree stands 275 feet high, with a trunk that is over 100 feet in cirumference. Its age is estimated at over 2,000 years. This is also the most famous tree in the park.
In Sequoia National Park, one of the most impressive stands of ancient trees is at Grant Grove. This is in the northern part, along the road to King's Canyon. Hike the short, easy trail through the grove, and you'll see some of the huge, towering Sequoias.
Among the sights here are some that reveal why this ancient forest has survived so long. For one, many of the Sequoias bear the scars of fires. Their resistance to fire, disease, and pestilence is such that they are able to live for thousands of years. Another interesting feature is a giant fallen tree, hollowed out inside. You can walk through it (hunched over slightly). Nestled inside it, I saw some bats. They didn't seem to mind people.
Also, take note of the young Sequoias, and other trees such as dogwoods. Grant Grove is one of the park's most awesome places.
King's Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and has scenery equal to anything in the West. It's one of the relatively unspoiled, almost undiscovered treasures of California. The road from Sequoia National Park into King's Canyon offers magnificent views of the canyon and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And it's usually not too crowded; to most tourists, it's barely even on the map. They tend to skip over it. So take your time, making plenty of stops to admire the views.
This giant tree, largest living organism on earth, is 2700 years old, with a 103-foot circumfrence at its base and a height of 275 feet. It's volume is 52,500 cubic feet. This tree is massive and very impressive. It not only dwarfs the humans viewing it, but also all the other trees of this forest. Simply amazing. It's a good idea to visit this tree (or for that matter, any other tree) in early morning or later in the evening. Not only are the crowds sparser, but you can actually see the top of the tree without the sun getting into your eyes.
This equally beautiful meadow is just a short hike farther from Crescent Meadow. It's lined by sequoias, with fallen logs littering the green, lush meadow. A trail encircles the meadow. The main highlight around Log Meadow is Tharp's Log, the cabin of homesteader Hale Tharp. The trail along the eastern end of the meadow was deserted when we hiked it, but the western side was much more crowded, with many tourists heading to Tharp Log.
The lodge in beautiful. The only problem I can see is getting to your room. It is set back away from...more