We spent three nights at the Azalea Campground in Kings Canyon, typical of most national park campgrounds. I called ahead to be sure we would fit into the sites and was assured that it would not be a problem with our 30’ length. Because it is first come first serve we were told to arrive before noon to be safe, so we got there on Sunday around 11:45. There were only a few people left in the campground and we tried several sites before finding one long and level enough, and with some sun for the solar panels. We saw a few bigger rigs but the campground roads are narrow and there are lots of low hanging tree limbs so we were glad we weren’t longer or taller. There are restrooms with flush toilets, an occasional water spigot, and no dump station. The big surprise came when Jim turned on our Verizon mifi device and we were getting 2-3 bars of 4G service. In adjacent Sequoia NP we had no signal at all.
On our first day we weren’t in the mood to do any more driving so it was nice to be staying inside the park. We were able to walk a half mile on a trail from the campground to Grant Grove Village, where there is a visitor center, store, restaurant, gift shop, post office, and cabins. After getting a map and some hiking info from the visitor center we continued on to Grant Grove for a look at the 1,700 year old, 266 foot high General Grant tree.
We continued along the pleasant trail and came across the Fallen Monarch, a 124 foot long trunk of a tree that fell centuries ago and is now hollow due to a combination of fire damage and natural decay. You can walk under the entire length so we did.
The root system on these giant sequoias is amazing.
On our second day it was overcast with a chance of showers so we didn’t drive the canyon road, hoping it would be clear the next day. We did drive up to Panoramic Point for a short hike to a viewpoint.
Then we continued on the Generals Highway east towards Sequoia and hiked a fairly steep mile up to Buena Vista Point. Not the best day for long views but still worth it.
Then it was down to the Redwood Mountain grove for our last hike through the giant trees.
We were pleased to see partly cloudy skies for our final day in the park, so we headed off along Hwy 180, or Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, 30 miles of wonderful canyon and river views. We stopped at many pullouts to take photos and just gawk.
We stopped to look at Knapp’s cabin.
Took short hikes to Grizzly and Roaring River Falls.
Hiked the trail around Zumwalt Meadow.
Had our lunch with a view.
And our last stop was a three mile detour to Hume Lake, where we walked the easy trail around the lake.
We really enjoyed our visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Encompassing over 1,300 square miles with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, these parks really deserve more time than we gave them. With 97% designated as wilderness, though, a backpack and tent are the way to really explore, something we don’t have any desire to do. But there is plenty to see and do just a short distance off the main roads through the parks, and the roads that traverse them are worth the drive alone. We’re glad we came.
I forgot to mention that there were very few people in Kings Canyon. In fact it was rather eerie driving through a national park and rarely seeing another car. We saw more people in Sequoia but then we were there over the weekend. Early May seems to be a good time to be here before the summer crowds, but the weather can be iffy at this time. We left Kings Canyon yesterday with clear skies and upper 50s for the highs. Today’s high is projected to be 41 with snow so it looks like we timed it just right.