Kings Canyon, nestled between Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, is a land of towering giants in the southern Sierra Nevadas of California. Between the granite walls and the deep canyons grow the largest trees in the world!
The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is a 30-mile road that leads to the heart of the park, snaking along the King River from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove. John Muir called Kings Canyon “a rival to Yosemite.” The views are just as breathtaking, but without the modern day crowds.
This June, we took 10 weekend warriors on a camping trip to Kings Canyon. Many of us were strangers and became fast friends. We believe nothing brings people together quite like sitting around a campfire under a canopy of stars.
On this trip, Shoestring Adventures partnered with photographer Cameron Gardner, who taught us how to use our cameras in Outdoor Photo 101.
We were also joined by Lindsey Morse of The Elegant Hippie, who shared some of her favorite outdoor brands with us. She gifted each camper with a care package inside a Topo Accessory Bag, including treats and exclusive discounts from Danner, Rumpl, Alite, Forest & Waves and Ticla.
Arriving Friday afternoon at Crystal Springs Campground, we settled in to our home away from home.
For dinner, we enjoyed shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches with extra sauce, served with a side of homemade coleslaw and sliced watermelon. We spent the the evening getting to know our new friends around the campfire, wrapped in Rumpl blankets and sipping on Outdoor Vino.
Saturday morning, Cameron kicked off Outdoor Photo 101. Once we were all familiar with our manual camera settings, we set off toward Road’s End at the far end the park to put our skill into practice.
In the morning, we braved the 30-mile drive on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to Cedar Grove, about 1 hour from Grant Grove. Beginning at the Hotel Creek Trailhead, we hiked 5-miles round trip to Cedar Grove Overlook. A 1,000 foot climb up the steep switchbacks rewarded us with a breathtaking view across the canyon.
After the hike, we took a short drive to Muir Rock, a giant boulder on the King River where naturalist John Muir used to give talks. We took advantage of this popular jumping spot to cool off in the snowmelt swimming hole below.
Back at the campground, we had chicken fajitas and a fresh green salad for dinner before heading back out to stargaze at Panoramic Point.
The moon was just a sliver, allowing the Milky Way to shine bright across the sky. We snapped some night photos and laid on the ground to let the magnificent view soak in.
The next morning, we drove to Grant Grove for one last adventure. The trail begins through the center of a hollow stump and winds through a grove of giant sequoias. The biggest of them all is General Grant, named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant and coined the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” by President Calvin Coolidge.
Before the journey home, we met for lunch at Pinehurst Lodge, a great local spot for a burger and a game of pool.
Overall, our weekend in Kings Canyon was a great success! We hope you’ll join us on the next adventure over Labor Day Weekend in Sequoia National Park!
Thank you to all of the Shoestring Warriors who made this adventure so special: Cameron, Lindsey, Jeanifer, Michael, Danny, Ellice, Shevaughn, Scott, Ari, Tabitha, LeeAnne, Ilya, Alisa & Rachel
Special thanks to our sponsors for providing campers with an awesome care package: Rumpl, Topo, Danner, Alite Designs, Naked Winery, Forest & Waves, Ticla, Health Warrior, Rise Bar and Nau. We can’t wait to take our gear on the next adventure!
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