Photo Credit: National Park Service
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The park is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service jointly.
Kings Canyon had been known to white settlers since the mid-19th century, but it was not until John Muir first visited in 1873 that the canyon began receiving attention. Muir was delighted at the canyon's similarity to Yosemite Valley, as it reinforced his theory regarding the origin of both valleys, which, though competing with Josiah Whitney's then-accepted theory that the spectacular mountain valleys were formed by earthquake action, Muir's theory later proved correct: that both valleys were carved by massive glaciers during the last Ice Age.
Then United States Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes fought to create the Kings Canyon National Park. He hired Ansel Adams to photograph and document this among other parks, in great part leading to the passage of the bill in March 1940. The bill combined the General Grant Grove with the backcountry beyond Zumwalt Meadow.
Kings Canyon's future was in doubt for nearly fifty years. Some wanted to build a dam at the western end of the valley, while others wanted to preserve it as a park. The debate was settled in 1965, when the valley, along with Tehipite Valley, was added to the park.
Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections. The small, detached General Grant Grove section preserves several groves of giant sequoias, including the General Grant Grove, with the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove, which is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world (covering 3,100 acres (1,300 ha) and with 15,800 sequoia trees over one foot 1 foot (30 cm) in diameter at their bases). The park's Giant Sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres (81,920 ha) of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This section of the park is mostly mixed conifer forest, and is readily accessible via paved highways.
The remainder of Kings Canyon National Park, which comprises over 90% of the total area of the park, is located to the east of General Grant Grove and forms the headwaters of the South and Middle Forks of the Kings River and the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Both the South and Middle Forks of the Kings Rivers have extensive glacial canyons. One portion of the South Fork canyon, known as the Kings Canyon, gives the entire park its name. Kings Canyon, with a maximum depth of 8,200 feet (2,500 m), is one of the deepest canyons in the United States. The canyon was carved by glaciers out of granite. The Kings Canyon, and its developed area, Cedar Grove, is the only portion of the main part of the park that is accessible by motor vehicle. Both the Kings Canyon and its Middle Fork twin, Tehipite Valley, are deeply incised, U-shaped glacial gorges with relatively flat floors and towering granite cliffs thousands of feet high. In addition, the canyon has several cave systems, one of which is the Boyden Cave, which is open to the public.
To the east of the canyons are the high peaks of the Sierra Crest, which attain an elevation of 14,248 feet (4,343 m) at the summit of North Palisade, the highest point in the park. This is classic high Sierra country: barren alpine ridges and glacially scoured lake-filled basins. Usually snow free only from late June until late October, the high country is accessible only via foot and horse trails. The Sierran crest forms the eastern boundary of the park, from Mount Goethe in the north, down to Junction Peak, at the boundary with Sequoia National Park. Several passes cross the crest into the park, including Bishop Pass, Taboose Pass, Sawmill Pass, and Kearsarge Pass. All of these passes are above 11,000 feet (3,400 m) elevation.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks campgrounds are located in oak woodlands in the warm, dry foothills and in the higher, cooler conifer forests. They range in elevation from 2,100 to 7,500 feet (2,300 m). Lodgepole, Dorst, Grant Grove and Atwell Mill campgrounds are near giant sequoia groves. In general, higher elevation campgrounds are cooler and closer to giant sequoias.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are a great place to climb. The rock here is similar to Yosemite in quality. One can enjoy an endless variety of climbs from easy to extremely challenging-without the crowds and pressure of more famous climbing areas. Outstanding routes include the Obelisk, Grand Sentinel, and Chimney Rock. Most climbs require at least a day's hike in.
Remember that the rock here is an integral part of a larger ecosystem. Like the rest of the parks, it is protected as wilderness for people to enjoy in a natural state that preserves it intact for future generations of climbers. This means no motors (for example, motorized drills). Respect closures. On your approach, stick to trails. Climb clean.
Kings Canyon climbs
A good place to look for climbs is along Bubbs Creek. On the north side of the Bubbs Creek Trail, just before it crosses Charlotte Creek, are Charlito Dome and Charlotte Dome. The hike in is about 8 miles, but the multi-pitch possibilities are worth the haul.
The easiest site to access in Sequoia is Moro Rock, just off the Generals Highway near Giant Forest. The west face offers 1,000 vertical feet of cracks and knobs. For a more remote climb, hike the High Sierra Trail to Angel Wings. At roughly 2,000 feet, this is one of the park's biggest walls. It's an 18-mile hike from Crescent Meadow. Other Sequoia highlights: Little Baldy and the quartzite Hospital Rock, both off the Generals Highway.
What you can do
1. Climb safely! Rescues endanger rescuers' lives, are expensive, and cause a lot of impact.
2. Know park rules and the principles of Leave No Trace. Stick to trails. Climb clean. Respect the wilderness character of the parks.
3. If you see climbers who are not following these principles, talk to them. Explain how they can minimize their impact and why it is important that they do so.
4. Clean up after others. Leave the rock better than you found it.
5. Respect closures. For example, Moro Rock and Chimney Rock are closed during peregrine falcon nesting season.
Description from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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- Camping - Backcountry
- Climbing - Rock
- Horseback Riding
- Skiing - Cross-Country
- Kayaking - White Water