Continuing along from Day 1, here's what we did during our second day which was mostly at Kings Canyon National Park.
If you're visiting for a week long trip, it is a good idea to visit Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks – enjoying the best of Sierra Nevada mountains. Another great place to combine would be Lake Tahoe (for a change in scenery from the mountains and sequoias).
We learnt our lesson from Day 1, and had an early start on Day 2. After having breakfast at Grant Grove we spoke to the park rangers who recommended that we first drive down Kings Canyon. This path apparently had the best views of the park. So, off we went.
We didn't know much about the Kings river or surrounding landscape, but our drive down Kings Canyon made us realize how stunning it was! The drive was exciting by itself, we didn't expect the canyon to be so narrow at times. It reminded me of the hikes I've done down to Havasupai near Grand Canyon. Never once did I think that I would encounter a similar landscape in California!
Along the drive, we stopped at the occasional viewpoint, and could see how Kings river and it's many forks have shaped this canyon, deriving the name, Kings Canyon. After we went down all the way, we made our first big stop at the Roaring River falls. After a short walk in a shaded trail, we saw the falls. While the falls weren't the tallest or largest by any means, they were pretty, and made for a welcome change during the hot summer day. Chakri went in for a quick dip, and came back saying the water in the pool surrounding the falls was super cold. If you want to go for a quick swim, be aware of that 🙂
After spending some time in the shade across the falls and taking some pictures, we moved along to our next stop, which was at Zumwalt Meadow. We skipped the short hike because of the heat, but had our lunch in the shade at the benches on this trailhead. We made our way back up to Grant Grove after lunch.
Our next stop of the day was at Hume Lake which was a detour on the way back to Grant Grove. We went in thinking it'd be a remote lake, but to our surprise it was the most popular area during our entire time at Sequoia. There's a resort right next to the lake, and we saw many, many families enjoying themselves. There's plenty of lake activities – including kayak and canoe rentals, but we didn't do any, since it was already late afternoon by the time we got here. We did enjoy couple of excellent milkshakes in the ice cream shop right across the lake.
Our last stop for the day was at Grant Grove, where we made a stop to see General Grant tree – which is the widest known Sequoia tree. It is also designated as the Nation's Christmas tree. While the Grant tree was nice and as expected, I liked the Fallen Monarch tree on this trail better. Fallen Monarch is a sequoia tree which fell down many years ago. You could walk through the inside of this tree end-to-end, and see that the tree has pretty much remained the same since the last 100 years! This shows that even after they die, sequoias do not disappear into the earth. In fact, they hardly decompose at all even over the span of 100 years. It's unimaginable that a tree wouldn't even decompose – showing how strong and invincible they are, and how they've stood the test of time. It's true – we humans don't even come close 😀
And with that, we were done with Day 2 at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Despite the fact that it took me many years to come and visit, it was worth the wait. I'd recommend the drive down to Kings Canyon and the Fallen Monarch tree as the highlights of the day!
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is currently closed because of the surrounding wildfires, but I expect it will reopen soon.