Kings Canyon is a place of steep roads and dramatic views. It is accessible from Three Rivers and, if leaving early enough, can be visited as a day trip.
Kings Canyon National Park, the final destination on Highway 180 into the canyon, is located between 80 and 90 miles from Three Rivers, depending on starting point and route. It is advised to make it a loop route, beginning with Dry Creek Drive to Highway 245 to Highway 180 (81 miles), then return via Highway 180 and the Generals Highway through Sequoia National Park (87 miles).
From Three Rivers to Road’s End in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park, the driving time is 2.5 hours, give or take a few minutes depending on the route.
In March 2015, Kings Canyon National Park turned 75 years old. There are several worlds within the boundaries of this intriguing national park that encompasses nearly a half million acres: the ancient and awe-inspiring giant sequoia groves of Grant Grove at about 7,000 feet elevation; the cliffs, river, waterfalls, and meadows of the spectacular Kings Canyon at 4,000 to 5,000 feet elevation; and the remote timberline country accessible only on foot or horseback.
To reach the canyon portion of Kings Canyon National Park, Highway 180 travels through Giant Sequoia National Monument, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. This is where the highway passes through a few final giant sequoia groves before its precipitous descent into the glacially carved canyon.
Kings Canyon is a huge playground, and recess is in session all summer. There are rivers and waterfalls, rocks and cliffs and boulders, forests and meadows, big animals and little animals, and trails to explore all of this and more.
One or two of these features would make for a grand adventure. Combine them all and you have unforgettable Kings Canyon outdoor recreation opportunities for people of every age and ability. Pick your type of fun: Day-hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, kayaking, bicycling, swimming, rock-climbing, and more!
Statistics abound about how the majority of people don’t wander farther than a quarter-mile from their vehicles while visiting national parks. Most visitors get out of their cars at the scenic spots and take a picture, but significantly fewer actually venture onto a trail. If ever feeling the urge to leave the crowds behind, walk a half mile or farther and you’ll feel as though you have the entire park to yourself. The photos on this page reveal some of what there is to see and do in Kings Canyon, as well as some of the scenes you’ll see out of the windshield of your car or within a short walk from the parking lot.