These two parks are operated as one system and we visited them both in one day. I found it interesting that these parks were designated in 1890 – the second and third national parks. Actually, only a part of Kings Canyon was one of the original triad. A small part of it was designated the General Grant National Park. General Grant refers to a giant sequoia tree. I’d never given it much thought as to what the early national parks were but I sure would have guessed something like Yosemite, Glacier, Crater Lake or the Smokies would have received designation before these parks. On the other hand, one thing I’ve come to appreciate as we’ve traveled through the national parks is that some parks are designated solely to protect and preserve a particular natural feature – some geologic, some a type of tree. In this case, the parks protect sequoias which grow naturally only on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada and only at a specific elevation.
So these parks were designated in 1890 and the National Park Service itself was established in 1916. The NPS recognized the significance of the sequoias by including a sequoia tree on their shield. The pinecones on the Park Rangers’ belts and hatbands are sequoia pinecones.
Kings Canyon National Park
The General Grant sequoia in Kings Canyon is 268 feet tall, 40 feet wide and 1700 years old.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia is home to the General Sherman tree (notice a naming trend?). It’s the largest tree in the world – as measured by volume of total wood. It’s estimated to be 2,000 years old, is 275 feet tall with a ground circumference of 103 feet.
The other cool thing at Sequoia is the walk to the top of Moro Rock. It’s 400 steps but was a lot easier than the 600 steps to Vernal Falls because these were actual steps. The payoff was standing on top of a sliver of a dome with 360 degree views.