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In Northern California, about four hours south of Sacramento on the southernmost portion of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, you’ll find one of the most breathtaking natural parks in the state. Three Rivers is home to the entrance of Kings Canyon National Park, located three hours southeast of San Jose and an hour east of Fresno near the Nevada border.
In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed Sequoia National Park, the nation’s second national park, into construction and protection. Fifty years later, President Roosevelt established General Grant National Park, which eventually became Kings Canyon National Park.
For those unfamiliar with the Sierra Nevadas, Kings Canyon National Park erupts with giant mountain peaks, glacially carved canyons, rushing rivers, calm lakes, and lush forests. Campers, skiers, hikers, mountain bikers, and swimmers will find what they’re looking for in this nearly 462,000-acre expanse, so book an RV in Tulare County and start exploring!
Tulare County campers will find themselves in awe of the dazzling landscape carved from glaciers over two million years ago, which has made Kings Canyon National Park a must-visit location for campers and hikers.
Find yourself with the urge to hike or mountain bike? The Cedar Grove area has picturesque hiking trails for all skill levels that lead through meadows and past waterfalls, offering a breathtaking view of Kings Canyon. The park suggests catering the hike to the least skilled member of your company due to the wide range of difficulty levels of the trails.
Are you into extreme sports? Kayaking is a thrilling activity at many of the rivers in the park. However, kayaking here requires expert skills; novice kayakers are not advised to attempt these incredibly dangerous waters. No motorized boats are permitted in the rivers.
Planning to make this trip a winter one? Carve up the slopes of the Sierra Nevadas on your snowboard or skis. Walk along the fluffy white trails with ranger-guided snowshoe walks, or explore this winter wonderland on your own.
Hikers camping at Kings Canyon National Park will almost certainly stumble upon a river during their excursions. Use extreme caution when traveling near these wild waters during the spring and early summer seasons. Hiking and boating near these rivers are only recommended for the most skilled outdoor enthusiasts.
Northern California’s state park RV campgrounds are an excellent gateway to the wilderness. Amenities are light near Kings Canyon National Park, but the secluded scenic beauty of the area will put you at one with nature.
A snack bar, market, showers, and laundry facilities can all be found at the Cedar Grove and Grant Grove camping areas which border both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Both camping areas are open to RV campers. No hookups or dump stations are available; however, flush toilets are provided. The park advises campers to store food properly when camping in the wilderness.
The Grant Grove area is perfect for RV camping and tent camping alike. With Azalea, Crystal Springs, and Sunset Campgrounds, there are options available for everyone. Make sure to get there early, however; the campgrounds fill up fast on a first come, first served basis.
When choosing a campground, check with the park to make sure the sites can accommodate your RV. Camping with an RV in Kings Canyon National Park is encouraged, but due to the narrow roads, various weather changes, and steep, mountainous landscape, it’s best to check the weather and plan out your route ahead of time.
The parks do their best to welcome outdoor enthusiasts with limited mobility. Due to the steep terrain, always check the trails ahead of time to make sure they suit your ability levels. There are a variety of hard-packed trails accessible for visitors in wheelchairs. Most of the campsites at Grant Grove and Cedar Grove are wheelchair-friendly as well.
Most of the park is wilderness, and the majority can only be accessed by hiking. Visitors’ centers are located at Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. The park’s internal roads are also narrow and can’t accommodate RV rentals over 22 feet long.
Fancy seeing some exotic animals on your trip? Look no further than the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, which is just a quick drive from the park. Get up close and personal with tigers, kangaroos, sea lions, giraffes, and so much more.
For a little history, architecture, and amazement all in one, check out the Forestiere Underground Gardens. This landmark, spanning 10 acres, took 40 years for a Sicilian farmer named Baldassare Forestiere to dig and construct, all by hand. Forestiere dug an underground garden and modern marvel which grew a variety of citrus trees that would sprout up nearly 20 feet to the surface.
Looking for some family fun in the sun? Island Water Park is waiting for you! Ride the wild water slides, coast the lazy rivers, and splash around in a giant wave pool. The park also serves classic American-style cookout fare.
Once you’re sufficiently awed and ready to begin your trek out of the park, make sure to plan ahead. No gas stations are located within Kings Canyon National Park, but neighboring communities will have some provisions. Also, with the city of Visalia being only an hour southwest, you should have no problem finding a place to fill up nearby.
Whether it’s Mexican food, pizza, or a nice steak, the village of Three Rivers has options that will fill your stomachs and get you ready for the road.
Where to next? Jump on the highway and head east to Death Valley National Park, or travel north to Sierra National Forest, or south to its sister park, Sequoia National Park. With plenty of enormous parks and vibrant sights nearby, you’ll have plenty to inspire your imagination for whatever is on the horizon.