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Have you ever explored Kings Canyon National Park? It is a five hour drive from Southern California near Fresno. The last hour of the drive is a windy road, I tend to get car sick, but having Juicy Fruit really helped.
Before we left we headed to Walmart to get some supplies and snacks for the kids for the trip.
Walmart stores across the country will be having Juicy Fruit demos on:
- July 25-27, 11am - 4pm
- August 1-3, 11am - 4pm on Friday/Saturday and 1pm-6pm on Sunday
We stayed at Sunset Campground which is close to the Giant Sequoias. You can hike to the Grant Grove Village which has a restaurant, a small grocery store, and the visitor center. The campground also has Ranger Programs during the summer. The kids kept busy looking for bugs, playing with friends, and collecting sticks.
The first day we hiked through the campground and saw this deer. She was very close and the kids were in awe. We crossed a meadow by walking on a giant log! The kids were in heaven. A couple of days later in the campground we saw the same deer near our campsite. She was scared off by some kids who were running up to see her. We later found her at the meadow eating her dinner. The kids and I settled after dinner on a boulder overlooking the meadow and just watched. She looked so peaceful in the setting.
At the visitor center we picked up some Junior Ranger Packets and unfortunately cause the kids were bouncing from exhibit to exhibit I didn't get any great pictures. The visitor center will help you schedule your day with maps, tour times, and a ten minute movie about the park. The packets are designed for specific age groups and when your child is done you return the packet to the Visitor Center to become a Junior Ranger and receive a pin.
Wait until you see the Giant Sequoias! You can hike from your campground to Grants Grove, but I recommend if you have kids to save their energy and drive there so that you can explore even more. I also recommend doing a Ranger Program there. Your family gets to learn more than just reading the signs. The tour is about an hour long. I have done this twice now and both with different rangers and each experience has been slightly different with added stories. My kids did great on this tour. There were times that my toddler wanted to be carried, but most of the time he walked with the group. The ranger passes out pictures as she/he tells stories about how we discovered these giants. You get to see what a Giant Sequoia cone looks like and learn how natures forces help grow this giant beauty.
Take a drive to Road's End and your kids will thank you for the water play! The drive is about an hour from the campground with lots of beautiful views, the road is very windy which I was thankful to have the Juicy Fruit gum with me as it helped get me through the car sickness and enjoy the ride.
You will need bathing suits, water shoes, and I recommend life vests in case they want to swim or jump off of rocks.
When we arrived we hiked to Zumalt Meadow which is a 1.5 mile loop. The hike is very easy and lots to see as you are crossing the river over a bridge, walk along side it and even go under some boulders that the kids loved. If you want to go further than the loop you can continue to Roaring River Falls. We didn't get far as the kids wanted to play in the water.
At the Kings River kids stayed busy with playing in the water and rocks. The water is cold but the kids didn't mind at all. We walked up and down river to explore some more and I was so proud of my kids when they wanted to jump off the rock!
On the way to and from Roads End you can stop to stretch your legs and explore with short hikes to falls and views.
Roaring River Falls you hike a nice paved path about a quarter mile. We stopped at a picnic area and saw this beautiful buck crossing the river! Grizzly Falls is another easy hike, but you can also see it from your vehicle if your kids fall asleep. The first time we went to Kings Canyon my toddler fell asleep when we stopped here so my hubby and I took turns hiking to get a closer look.
Do the Ranger Led Programs! Your kids will learn so much! We took this John Muir Ranger Led Hike in which the ranger dressed and acted as John Muir. We hadn't even left the parking lot and the kids were filled with information. As we hiked "John Muir" would talk to the kids about the different types for trees. We saw a dragronfly pass us and he had the kids pretending they were dragonflies as he explained why they are so important and how they live. Anything we walked into that the kids found interest he would stop and explain. The hike is 1 1/2 hour long and however far he got during this time is where we stopped. You can then continue on with the hike or turn around and go back to the car.
The final day for us was time to unwind and relax. About fifteen miles from the campground is Hume Lake. After the busy days we had this was rewarding for both the kids and us. With the sandy beaches the kids played and hubby was happy that he could escape for some fishing. The parking lot gets full so get there early. You can take a small hike and explore the rock slide area.
Our trip was four days, but we have done it in three days. If you are not into camping or hiking stay outside the park and just drive through.
Have you ever been to Kings Canyon? What was your favorite place to explore there?