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Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

Olathe, Kansas
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Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

First trip to SEKI coming up. We will be driving from Oakhurst to Grant Grove on a mid-June Saturday (staying at either John Muir Lodge or Wuksachi Lodge, whichever makes sense given our final plan). Our original plan was to spend 3 nights in the park, taking a full day for Kings Canyon all the way to Road's End, taking in the sights, waterfalls, and doing the Zumwalt Meadow Hike. Now we only have 2 nights we can spend in the park. We will be leaving Oakhurst around 10:00AM (don't want to leave any sooner as we'll have a very late night returning from Yosemite the night before). I'm wondering if it's reasonable to spend one day leaving Oakhurst around 10, drive to Grant Grove, spend a bit of time at the visitor center (daughter junior ranger stuff), check out General Grant Grove, and still go as far as Grizzly Falls into Kings Canyon and back to either Grant Grove or Wuksachi Lodge before 7:00PM or so (Wuksachi maybe preferable as we'll have a full day of hiking around the Giant Forest the following day)? Or even go as far as Roaring River Falls or Road's End? I'd likely prefer to go a shorter distance and take our time than go farther and feel rushed -- so we are even considering just skipping Kings Canyon entirely to have a more relaxing day around Grant Grove (but that is a painful decision). Any thoughts? Does Kings Canyon feel like biting off too much now that we only have a 2 night stay coming from Oakhurst? We won't have any time our last morning either -- we'll need to head out of the parks relatively early.

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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1. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

Yes, actually, I think you can do that. I don't think it's unreasonable. It will be a bit of a long drive, but once you're in Kings Canyon and on the by-way, it's so exhilerating, you won't mind.

I'll tell you that I haven't found Grant Grove "relaxing" at all on the last few trips. As it remains one of the few places where there are campgrounds (crowded) and cheaper lodging, plus it's right on the easiest road into the parks, it has become *crowded.* Tour buses and so on. The drive into Kings Canyon will put you further away from the Big Trees, but closer to nature.

You'll still get to see plenty of Big Trees in the Giant Forest and staying in Wuksachi is absolutely your best bet for a quiet, wonderful night. You can start out your day with a lovely breakfast at Wuksachi, go hike through Big Trees to your heart's content (and maybe do Moro Rock, don't miss Log/Crescent Meadows) and still get back to Lodgepole in time to splash your feet in the creek, sit on some warm granite and maybe see the ranger presentation at night. It's just 5-10 minutes from Wuksachi.

Fremont, California
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2. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

Since you are going in June, roads should be clear of snow.

The one thing you need to keep an eye out for is rocks on the road - last time we drove down and on the way back luckily a ranger truck was highlighting that a huge boulder had fallen - we could just drive on one part of the road as it had just blocked one lane. Just be aware....(not a major factor but something that can happen.)

When we go to Kings Canyon we usually allocate at least 4 hours to do the drive down and back and do it during daylight hours, Since you are going in June, the days are long and this in your favor.

So so far weather, roads, and daylight are in your favor.

When you are back from your drive to Kings Canyon and back in Sequoia the drive to Wuksachi is relatively easy - about an hour though.

One thing - Wuksachi Dining is usually fully booked meaning those without reservations I have seen not be able to get in and eat in their restaurant. If you do do this trip, and if you want to eat at the Lodge, make later dinner reservations for the night. I am not totally optimistic you would be at the lodge by 7. So plan for dinner at 8:30 or so.

I think staying at Wuksachi Lodge is very nice place to stay ---and highly recommend it....Food is good, rooms are very nice; nice scenic area.

Also, when you exit the park, take 180 (not 3 Rivers). Reason for this is that there are so many switchbacks on that road it is difficult to drive. It looks like you have some time constraints your last morning so just wanted to mention this.

Both parks are an awesome combination. Its a treat to arrive in Kings Canyon and see the river so if you can drive all the way, its great. (Note: If you want an earlier dinner that day, eat dinner in this area if a later dinner at Wuksachi seems too late for you.)

tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g143050-d5…

Of course, remember, if you decide that day just to drive none of it or part of it, that's ok too.

Just to let you know I hope I addressed many of your concerns but if not, please do ask more questions here or on another forum post.) Thanks.

Olathe, Kansas
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3. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

Thanks a lot LeBiscuit!

Makes sense -- definitely now leaning towards making time for Kings Canyon! If we stay at Wuksachi, I'm thinking we can skip the Grant Grove Visitor Center and do the Jr Ranger stuff with my daughter with a visit to the Lodgepole VC in the morning before we hike the Giant Forest. We would likely still do a fairly quick stop at the General Grant Grove on the way from Oakhurst to Kings Canyon, but keeping that somewhat short seems like it should give us time to see at least most of Kings Canyon and still make it back to Lodgepole by mid-evning. Lots of driving as you said, but it seems worth it (I really hated to cut KC out entirely).

For the Giant Forest, we are planning to hike from General Sherman to Moro Rock one way (via Congress, Circle, Cresent, Log, Sugar PIne, trails). One way then take the shuttle back to our car and check out other places in the area. I had read about this hike and it seemed like a great option (somewhat long, but not any major uphill climbs, other than Moro Rock itself of course). Is this a route you are familiar with?

I love your thought of checking out the ranger presentation that night.

Thanks again for all of your help. Very much appreciated!

Olathe, Kansas
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4. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

Thanks mini!

I've now got a comfort level that at least seeing part (maybe all) of KC is the way to go, along with staying at Wuksachi (mostly because of it's proximity to the Giant Forest area, but based on both of your responses, seems like a great place to stay also -- regardless of location). Thanks for the tips about meals there.

One other question -- about leaving via 180 instead of the South entrance to 3 Rivers. We are actually not really all that pressed for time -- I just meant we won't have several hours to commit to anything in the parks. If we stayed in Wuksachi I was thinking we'd leave via 3 Rivers, really just to take a different way out than in (we are headed to LA). If it takes us 30-60 minutes longer that's not a big issue -- if the benefit is being able to see another part of the park on the way out (even if just for short stops). Given that, would you still recommend taking 180 out of the park for other reasons?

Fremont, California
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5. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

We love driving the mountains - and both my husband and I roll our eyes when it comes to the drive to Three Rivers. He far enjoys mountain driving all types - off road, etc. We've had to do it in the fog; we've done it also in the sun; we've also stayed in 3 Rivers and driven into the park on 3 days straight. We laugh about this every time we think about it - this is a road we do not like to drive.

So what I have to say about this route is:

1) If you like to drive mountainous switchbacks _ I mean its like zig, zag zig zag over a 100 times, then do it.

Its one of the best for that. Do fill up with gas in the park (luckily you are there in June as the gas station should be open - by early October the gas station is closed and we have done it with very little gas....and lived to write about it.

2) Since you are from Kansas on your trip advisor listing, this is a road you need some mountain road ability to drive. Yes, others have driven it, but its one you definitely want to know how to use your low gears in the car; when to brake, etc. Kings Canyon is a piece of cake compared to this one. But you might have much experience in that area, and if so, go for it.

3) I do not see that much in scenery difference once you leave Wuksachi more trees etc. We prefer looking for walks nearby then spending the additional time in the car to do the drive to 3 rivers one more time.

Hope that helps some.....its your decison, so treat this as my humble inputs based on what I like (and you might like something completely different and that's perfectly all right....)

Have a great time and glad you plan to go to Kings Canyon.

6. Re: Amount of Time at Least Part-Way Down Kings Canyon Byway

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