Kings Canyon Park

Notes by piero scaruffi | Other California destinations | California hikes


The main entry point to Kings Canyon is at Roads End, west of Fresno.


Pictures of these hikes

Main attractions near Roads End:

Driving directions

Directions for Roads End from the Bay Area. Take 101 south, 152 east lo Los Banos (about 1 hr 30') to 99 (about 2hr), 99 south to Fresno (about 300 kms, 2h 30'). In Fresno, take 180 east and follow it to the Big Stump park entrance (85 kms, 1h 15') to the fork with Sequoia Park (5') to Grant Grove village (3kms, visitor center, restaurant, water, restrooms, market) to Cedar Grove (50 winding kms, 50', via Kings Canyon Lodge 20', Boyden Cavern 30', Kings Canyon border 40') and then (10 kms) Roads End. Park at Roads End, at the first parking lot, marked by the sign "Information".

Cheap lodging: Belmont Ave exit of 99 just north of Fresno.

  • 101 south, 152 east lo Los Banos 1 hr 30'
  • 152 east to 99 30'
  • 99 south to Fresno 30'
  • 180 east and to Big Stump park entrance 1h 15'
  • to the fork with Sequoia Park 5'
  • to Grant Grove village 5'
  • Kings Canyon Lodge 20'
  • Boyden Cavern 10'
  • Kings Canyon border 10'
  • Cedar Grove 10'
  • Roads End 10'

Camping near Roads End

Several options:
  • There are four campgrounds between Cedar Grove and Roads End: Sentinel, Sheep Creek, Moraine, Canyon View (each a hefty $18 in 2008)
  • There is a road where free camping is popular (legal as long as you can park the car safely). If you are coming from Sequoia Park, turn right after the Montecito lodge. This is a short distance before the junction with 180.
  • You can try and sleep in your car or near your car at Roads End, but rangers are inflexible and have an unlimited amount of time, so most likely they will find you and send you away (Note that it is environmentally much better to sleep in one's car than in a campground, but rangers are not paid to care for the environment, they are paid to maximize revenues)
  • Just before Cedar Grove (before the bridge) your are inside a national forest, and therefore you can camp anywhere it is safe to park. There are a few turnouts on 180 just before Cedar Grove where you can park and camp.
This is coming popular so it is no longer a well-kept secret. About 300 meters north of McGee Vista Point (5km past Grant Grove) is Cherry Gap, about 30 minutes before Roads End (if you get at the turnout for Hume Lake, you went too far). A dirt road intersects the highway at Cherry Gap. Head west on this dirt road (technically speaking, forest road 13S03) for 1 km and you'll reach a nice area for camping. The following morning you can visit Converse Basin Grove, the largest contiguous grove in the world. Further up on 180 is the (left) turnout to Boole Tree, one of the largest giant sequoias.

Food before Roads End

Fresno is the last reliable place. Once you are on 180 heading east, there are still a couple of restaurants and a pizza place in Squaw Valley but hours are unreliable. As of 2013:
Blossom Trail Cafe (922 N. Academy, Sanger CA)
School House Restaurant & Tavern (1018 S Frankwood Sanger, CA 93657)
Pizza (31074 E Kings Canyon Rd, Squaw Valley, CA 93675)

Once you enter Kings Canyon Park, there is only food (and only in the peak weekends of summer at very odd hours) at Grant Grove Village (an expensive restaurant that mostly serves sandwiches, and a pizza place that is open only when you don't need it) and at Cedar Village (a fast-food place inside the lodge with a very basic menu). The quality is beyond standard, the prices are way above standards.

Information (2010)

  • Kings Canyon's visitor information: 559-565-3341.
  • Kings Canyon's website
  • The Cedar Grove ranger station closes at 4pm and it's open only in summer.
  • Grant Grove visitor center (180 entrance): open 8am-6pm in summer, 5km east on 180 from the Big Stump Entrance Station.
  • Don't count on food once inside the park. There are only two or three restaurants and they are likely to be closed when you need them.
  • Campgrounds (NPS)
  • Campgrounds in the Sierra
  • In a sign of the continuing decline of the USA, there is no public transportation (not even an old-fashioned bus, let alone a Japanese/European-style bullet train) to this popular destination. If you are a tourist, you need to rent a car or book a super-expensive tour. It is also a sign of how much the USA cares for pollution, greenhouse gases and oil consumption that it forces everybody to drive their own cars to a popular natural attraction.


Beware of
  • Swarms of tiny flies following you pretty much anywhere from Roads End to the John Muir Trail and mosquitoes wherever you decide to stop for your picnic
  • Snakes between Charlotte Camp and Vidette Meadow (not sure what kind)
  • The Bubbs Creek crossing (no bridge, water can be up to your chest)
  • As usual, the number one enemy is the bureaucracy: if you plan to obtain a permit (required for multi-day hikes), good luck. Quote from their website (2012): "ALL permits must be obtained during opening hours at the permit stations. NO night drops are permitted. NO Exceptions." Needless to say, opening hours are ridiculous: it would be easier to list the closing hours. If ready to defy the unfriendly (and probably unconstitutional) rules, keep in mind that rangers (unlike you the taxpaying hiker) have unlimited time and unlimited money (your tax money): chances that they find you when hiking overnight illegally are higher than you think, no matter where in the wilderness you're hiding.