9 Top Things To Do In Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon is a lesser-known National Park – I didn’t even know where or what it was until I started researching National Parks for our Southern California road trip. I can’t believe more people don’t come! It was amazing. Below is our list of things to do in Kings Canyon National Park.

Kid standing under a tree in Kings Canyon National Park

Our Experience In Kings Canyon

We opted to try the first-come, first-serve campground. It was the weekend before Memorial Day, so we figured we had a good shot since it wasn’t hot travel season quite yet. We got in on a Friday at about 3:30 and easily found two sites (my sister and her family were with us, too).

I am so glad we stayed in the park – it gave us more time each day to explore. I would highly recommend finding a hotel or campground in the park when you visit.

We spent one full day exploring Kings Canyon and could have used two more if we had wanted to do a couple more hikes. Other than that, a day was the perfect amount of time to explore Kings Canyon Park.

We added in Sequoia National Park before heading on to Northern California and Yosemite National Park.

Here Is What We Did In Kings Canyon

We started at Azalea Campground, where we stayed for three nights and explored Kings Canyon and Sequoia (note that the campground does not have hookups).

Please note that you can stay in one place to visit both Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Just be sure to check for any road closures before you book so you don’t have to drive further than anticipated.

General Grant Tree in King's Canyon National Park

Hike to the General Grant Tree

This was a short hike (on the General Grant Tree Trail) from our campground (about 1/2 a mile there), and it was beautiful. I didn’t think we would make it to see the tree since the kids just wanted to stop and play on all the big boulders and trees.

The Sequoia trees are just unreal in size. The ones that have fallen down have humongous roots, and one of them had the perfect slide area on it. Eventually, we made it to General Grant.

General Grant is the third largest tree in the world by volume, and it was HUGE. It is surreal to stand under these trees and look up. General Grant has a 40-foot diameter at ground level, which would take about 20 people holding hands to circle around it.

The General Grant tree is located in a beautiful Sequoia grove.

One of these giant trees had fallen down, and the inside was carved out so we could walk right through it! These trees have been given the nickname: Fallen Monarch.

What we thought would be a quick hike took quite a bit longer since there was so much to see and play on!

After that we headed back to the campground to get packed up so we could take the van and go explore more of the park.

Fun fact: The General Grant Tree has been called the Nation’s Christmas Tree.

Related: If you want to see the General Sherman tree, head to Sequoia National Park. Here is our post with all the details on visiting: 19+ Unforgettable Things To Do In Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon Visitor Center

The next stop was the Kings Canyon Visitor Center in the Grant Grove Village to pick up some park stickers (we like to buy them and put them on our RV or van) and to get Junior Ranger books for the kids. We also like to stop at the Visitor Center to ask for any recommendations. And to be sure there aren’t any unexpected road closures or trails closed.

The visitor centers usually have a nice little museum and maybe a movie we can watch to learn more about the park. Grant Visitor Center and Village (it has a small general store, cabins, and a lodge) is super close to Azalea Campground. It’s probably a 10-15-minute walk along the trail that connects them.

Emerging from the forest to see Kings Canyon was amazing. The scenic byway is definitely something to do while in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

Our next stop was the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway (Highway 180) taking in the canyon’s beauty from above and below. A few scary roads were on the way, but the beauty was well worth it. It was crazy to come out of the beautiful Sequoia forest and see this awe-inspiring canyon.

On the Scenic Byway, we stopped at a couple of viewpoints:

Junction View

This was up at the top and gave you an amazing view of Kings Canyon, where you could see the river roaring and look out over the towering mountains. It looked like a painting!

Grizzly Falls

This stop came once we were down on the canyon floor. It was an easy stop, with a one-minute walk to a huge waterfall. We have heard that if you come in the summer, there may not be a waterfall here as it dries up. We were there at the end of May, and it was flowing strong.

Cedar Grove Visitors Center is a great spot to stop for a snack. We had a bite and a beer near the river.

Cedar Grove Visitor Center

This visitor center was closed, but the lodge and market area was open. We stopped there to have a beer and get the kids an ice cream cone while we sat next to the roaring Kings River. It was a great place to stop for a minute to relax.

The kids are taking in the beauty of Roaring River Falls in King's Canyon National Park near Sequoia National Park

Roaring River Falls

Next, we headed to Roaring River Falls, a short paved hike to a beautiful waterfall. I would recommend this to anyone since it was such an easy trail, and the waterfall was really cool.

Zumwalt Meadow

The last stop of the day was a 1.8-mile loop trail around Zumwalt Meadow. It was a really fun hike. The hike took us along the river and then up and through rocks and boulders, with gigantic canyon walls surrounding us. It did not feel like 1.8 miles, and all the kids did great! The whole trail was pretty level, with just a few granite steps in one area.

It was much warmer in the meadow compared to the rest of the park. Since it’s down in a valley, and the sun shines bright in the meadow, be prepared with layers.

At this point we had made it all the way through Kings Canyon. We then turned around and headed back to the campground. The drive back was gorgeous as it took us back up to 6,000+ feet to our campground.

Related: 6 Epic National Park Road Trip Ideas [Maps Included]

Horseback Riding

We did not go horseback riding when we were there. But it sounds like a very cool way to explore the park! Here is more information on horseback riding in Kings Canyon.


You won’t believe the size of these trees! It isn’t Redwood National Park it is Kings Canyon National Park in California! This is a great destination to add to your family travel summer bucket list. The size of these trees is crazy plus there is epic hiking and amazing views. Here is what we recommend you do in Kings Canyon National Park with kids: Hike to the General Grant Tree Kings Canyon Visitor Center Kings Canyon Scenic Byway Junction View Grizzly Falls Cedar Grove Visitor Center Roaring River Falls Zumwalt Meadow Horseback Riding If you want all the details comment: KINGS CANYON and I will send them over! Including where to stay. ➡️ FOLLOW FOR MORE TRAVEL, FAMILY LIFE AND RVING TIPS @crazyfamilyadventure #familytrip #travelwithkids #usaroadtrips #summerbucketlist #travelbucketlist #kingscanyonnationalpark

♬ No Bad Days – Flo Rida

Where To Stay

We recommend staying at Azalea Campground. It’s close to both King’s Canyon and Sequoia, and the campground is cool with all the giant Sequoias all around. Again, there are no hookups here, so be prepared with that. We had a small solar panel that worked pretty well to keep our battery charged.

Related: 18 Tips On How To Rent An RV

The Sequoia Campground & Lodge (which is now renamed to AutoCamp – be sure to check when they open) is very close to the entrance. The Nelson Falls RV Park is about an hour and 45 minutes from Three Rivers, but the park is in the Sequoia National Forest.

For more on camping check out this great guide: Sequoia National Park Camping.

If you don’t have an RV rent one close to Sequoia National Park!

Hotel options:

The Wukaschi Lodge – located in the park!

The Gateway Restaurant & Lodge

John Muir Lodge – located in Grant Grove Village in the park!

VRBO options:

Donna’s Dollhouse

Kaweah River House

A lot of people skip this National Park and head to Yosemite. Don’t do that! I mean yes go to Yosemite but don’t skip Kings Canyon!

This is an awesome National Park, and if you add in Sequoia, you can explore 2 amazing places on your trip.

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Get tips on how to plan the Ultimate summer bucket list trip to Kings Canyon National Park with kids! Kings Canyon is a beautiful destination to explore and should be on your National Park road trip list. Some get tips and ideas on what to do in the park and where to stay. You truly won't believe the size of these trees until you are standing under them. Get started now on planning your summer USA road trip to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. A top family travel place to visit in the USA!

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