Kings Canyon Scenic Byway: 10 Surprising Places You Will Love
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is one of the most beautiful drives in all of California. Located in Kings Canyon National Park, the drive takes visitors through massive canyons, past raging waterfalls, all while following a beautiful roaring river.
Visiting the sights along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is one of the most best things you can do while visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. However, for most visitors, Kings Canyon is sadly just an afterthought of their trip to Sequoia. I know it was on my first visit. I popped in, saw the General Grant Tree and headed out of the park thinking I’d seen what was to be seen.
For those in the know however Kings Canyon is one of the best places to really experience the tranquility and beauty of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Not just the higher elevation sites seen by most tourists, but the lower elevation canyon all the way to Roads End.
Kings Canyon National Park is geographically connected to Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest in the Southern Sierra Nevada range, which can be quite confusing for people on their first visit. Kings Canyon National Park is broken into two sections essentially. The upper elevation part of the park is located around Grant Grove Village and sits at around 6000 feet. There are several campgrounds here as well as a few trails to explore.
For those with time however the true gem of the park awaits down into the canyon along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Only 36 miles from Grant Grove is the Cedar Grove area of the park. While not a lot of miles, the windy road means at least a 45 minute to 1 hour drive one way into the canyon to Roads End.
In order to fully experience the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, we recommend starting your adventure early in the morning. You can reach this area of the park either from outside of the park via Fresno or Visalia or from the General’s Highway that connects Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon.
From Fresno or Visalia, you will take Highway 180 up towards Kings Canyon National Park through the Giant Sequoia National Monument. When you make it into the park, there are only two options – one way to Sequoia National Park via the General’s Highway and one going into Kings Canyon toward the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. You will take the Kings Canyon road.
As I mentioned earlier, Kings Canyon National Park comprises of the upper elevation section and the lower deep canyon section. The area in between these two is actually Sequoia National Forest area. For this post, I will include everything on the scenic byway, regardless if it is in Kings Canyon or the national forest. For most visitors there isn’t much difference to the areas, other than who oversees the forest and what the camping regulations are.Below are some of the stops and hikes you can see as you drive down into the canyon.