THE KINGS CANYON SCENIC BYWAY

California has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to spectacular outdoor places. From our national parks, to our miles and miles of Pacific coastline, visitors can experience some of the most dramatic and gorgeous scenery while driving the highways and byways across the state. Oftentimes it’s the journey that makes a trip so special. 

Travelers looking to explore off-the-beaten roads and byway will find them here. California boasts 7 National Scenic Byways and 55 State Scenic Byways giving travelers lots of opportunities to explore this amazing state along roads that are archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, or scenic.

Travelers to nearby Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks can take a road trip along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway as they head to the parks. It follows along a portion of Highway 180 and stretches for about 50 miles as it winds its way from the Sierra Nevada foothills before zig zagging deep into Kings Canyon. The road passes through Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park before it reaches Road’s End, deep in Kings Canyon.

Along the way you will see breathtaking vistas, soaring granite cliffs and enjoy amazing panoramas. It can take 2-3 hours to drive the route but plan on a full day to allow for hiking, picnicking and of course lots of photo taking. The best time to drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is in spring, summer and fall. The road into the canyon is closed in winter months.

The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway officially begins just outside of the national park, near the Hume Lake Ranger District office. Elevation here is about 1,800 feet above sea level. From here, head east toward the Big Stump Entrance to Kings Canyon National Parks then follow the road towards Kings Canyon. Here are some of the sites you will see along the way as you drive the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway.

Big Stump Picnic Area

Just inside the park entrance you will find the Big Stump Picnic Area. Covered picnic tables, restrooms and plenty of parking are available. Follow the trailhead for the Big Stump Trail, often overlooked by visitors. Here you will see evidence of the logging that took place many years ago including the Mark Twain Stump. A small staircase on the stump lets visitors climb on top. 

The General Grant Tree

Continue along the byway (highway 180) to the General Grant Tree, the second largest sequoia tree. This tree is a living shrine dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces. While standing in the parking lot, look around at the many giant sequoia trees that surround you!

The elevation near the General Grant is about 6,400 feet. But soon you will be descending into one of the deepest canyons in North America! The scenery will get pretty dramatic as you drive down as the road follows along the roaring Kings River. 

Boyden Cavern

Make reservations ahead of time to visit Boyden Cavern, a limestone cavern 2,000’ beneath the walls of the canyon. You will see massive stalagmites, delicate hanging stalactites, beautiful flowstone, and unique pendant and shield formations. 

Grizzly Falls and Zumwalt Meadow

A great spot for a picnic lunch is Grizzly Falls. From the picnic area, it is a very short walk to the 80’ falls.

The next stop before reaching Road’s End is Zumwalt Meadow. It offers great views of the meadow, the King’s River, and the soaring cliffs of the canyon. The trail crossed the river via an expansion bridge.

Road's End and the John Muir Rock

The final destination is Road’s End which is about 4,600 feet in elevation. Along the river here you will also find Muir Rock where it is said that John Muir gave speeches about the importance of protecting the beautiful natural places.

The allure of a place called Road’s End in a canyon deeper than the Grand Canyon and some of the largest living things on earth, the giant sequoias, make the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway one of the best drives in California.

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P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
(800) 524-0303 : (559) 334-0141