January 24, 2023

California's Hidden Gem: Kings Canyon National Park

National Parks

Welcome to a day at King's Canyon National Park. This incredible park is oftentimes overshadowed by it's big neighbor -Sequoia National Park - but we are here to verify that you don't wanna skip out on this one!

The first day of our weekend trip was in Sequoia (see HERE) and on our second day we knew we wanted to explore Kings Canyon. We woke up one foggy morning and took that beautiful drive in. We were met by friendly park rangers who handed out a map of the drive (which became crucial once our wifi went out!) and we decided to drive as far into the park as we could.

One of the first places we drove to was the General Grant Tree and surrounding trails. It is right off the main road and just a short drive in from the entrance. We parked right at the base of some giant trees and peered up alllll the way to the top...so high up we almost got dizzy! The sheer size of the trees in this forest will take your breath away.

Even though our day in the canyon did require many miles of driving...we'd have to say that these views made it totally worth it.

Just a short walk in from where we parked, we made it to the General Grant Tree. Apparently it is named "the national Christmas tree" after a moment when a little girl looked up and said "this would make a great Christmas tree!" back in the early 1900s.

There was also an interesting story around the big burn mark on the backside of the tree. Apparently there was a big fire that happened and burned almost half the backside of the trunk. Amazingly, the tree is still standing and alive, despite this giant hole in the back. We thought it was cool how the park highlighted the burn, rather than try to hide it.

We continued on our drive further into the park on the winding roads that went up, down and through the mountains. The name for the park really began to make senes - this is indeed a canyon!

Next on our stop was Hume Lake. We knew of this lake because of Hume Lake Christian Camps that are held here every summer! It was a bit of a detour off the main road, about 30 extra minutes or so, but it was totally worth the drive.

The Lake is open to the public and anyone can come enjoy these incredible views. There were a few people out on the lake on kayaks and paddle board, and a few other visitors around. Besides that, its was incredibly peaceful here, and we could really give glory to God for the special place this has been and continues to be for to so many people.

Hume Lake in all it's glory!!! Praise God for this place!

After basking in God's glory at Hume Lake, we continued to the last leg of our drive- and finally arrived at the appropriately named "Roads End". There was a famous rock "Muir Rock" that we couldn't seem to find and plenty of hikers returning from what seemed to be long treks into the mountains. They all had hiking poles, banged up knees, dirt on their shoes and a smile on their faces. The sign of a good time. At the "Roads End" we were able to take in these breathtaking views with happy hikers all around and enjoy the final stop on our Kings Canyon adventure.

We safely drove out of the canyon exactly the way we came in, this time seeing everything from the other side of the road. The drive out was peaceful, the sun was setting, the air cooling down, and the beauty of this place still shining. We were so grateful to have a day here and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting Sequoia!

Now...to end this post with a shoutout to the city we stayed in while visiting the parks - Visalia!

We were pleasantly surprised with a few of the local eateries they have! Check out a few of our favorites:

Brew Bakers

This was one of the top places that popped up on Yelp, and it was just a few minute walk from our hotel. We walked in and got seated right away upstairs. We orders burgers, salad and beer -but what we were really excited for was the ROOT BEER FLOAT! This caught our eye on the menu and we know we had to try it. It came out in a giant glass with a bowl that it could overflow in and it was INCREDIBLE!!!! 10/10 would go back just for this!

Two other places that we really enjoyed in Visalia and on our way to Kings Canyon were: Clincan's Junction & Barrel House Brewing Co.

Clincan's Junction is this cute Coffee shop before the entrance to the park. It is cozy, homey and the perfect stop on the way in.

Barrel House Brewing Co was a short walk from our hotel and a really cool spot in Visalia. They had a bunch of good beers on tap and even a food truck out back. A really good place to hang out in the city!

And lastly, an amazing stop in Visalia on our way back home : The Darling. This popped up when we were looking up places for brunch and with rave reviews we knew we had to try it out. A former bank turned boutique hotel and restaurant - sign us up! We headed over earlier in the day for brunch and got seated right away.

We ordered some hot lattes and yummy breakfast items like the eggs, potatoes, and croissants - really delicious! Plus, the rooftop view was so fun and the hotel itself is just expertly designed. What a cool place!

And that wraps up our day in Kings Canyon and a few of our favorite places in Visalia. This was such a fun adventure for us, so easy to get to and a really nice break from the city.

We definitely will be back!