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Kings Canyon Scenic Byway

Scenic Byways or Routes
Junction View on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway – NPS Photo

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is the only vehicle route into the Kings Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in North America. For 50 miles you will travel through many of the Southern Sierra life zones including several giant sequoia groves, and the spectacular geology of Kings Canyon.

Along the scenic route you will experience dramatic changes in vegetation, wildlife, and geology as you climb the 4,000 feet through the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Driving Directions

From Fresno, travel east on Highway 180. The byway officially begins at the Hume Lake Ranger Station, Sequoia National Forest boundary, east of the intersection with Highway 63 North of Orange Cove. The road ends at Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park.

The section of the byway just below the turn off to Hume Lake closes for the winter, so plan your tour mid-May to mid-October. Allow at least one hour to drive the scenic byway.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

Take a trip to nature's wonderland on the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. Marvel at the enormous sequoias towering above you. Explore the natural caves and other geology along popular hiking trails. Take advantage of the fabulous opportunities the Canyon and Kings River provide outdoor lovers. This journey through the Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon is nothing short of incredible.

In the midst of the fabulous landscapes of sequoia groves and river ways, the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is mere seconds from some of the best outdoor recreation in California. The Kings River is a National Wild and Scenic River, and it is a hotspot for coldwater anglers hoping to snag a rainbow, brown, or eastern brook trout. Campers will revel in all the camping opportunities near rivers and hiking trails. The peaceful atmosphere of the area will inspire you to relax, unwind, and then tackle all the adventure that awaits you.

Converse Basin Grove is the largest contiguous grove in the world. It includes Boole Tree, one of the largest living giant sequoia, and Stump Meadow and Chicago Stump, all stark reminders of the late 1800s when the grove was privately owned. Among the stumps is the next generation of sequoias demonstrating the resilience of the species. Forest Roads 13S55 and 13S03 are dirt roads providing access to the Converse Basin. Visit in the summer when the road is dry or in winter visit the area by cross-country skis or snowshoes.

Hike the 3-mile trail to the Boole Tree. This tree was spared during the historic logging period because of its breathtaking size. The Boole Tree stands today as the largest sequoia in any National Forest and the 8th largest known sequoia in the world.

Indian Basin Grove. A paved, accessible interpretive trail leads the visitor through what was once a grove of ancient giants. The trail winds past enormous stumps left from an historic logging operation and the grove of young sequoias that have replaced the fallen giants. Princess campground is located next to the trail along Highway 180.

Millwood was once the location of a historic mill town. Today it serves as a staging area for Off Highway Vehicle enthusiasts. Remember not to disturb or remove historic and prehistoric artifacts. They are protected by law.

Boyden Cave. Take a guided tour of the magnificent limestone cavern which lies beneath the massive 2,000 foot high marble walls of the famous Portals of the Kings. The cavern is located on the scenic byway just before the road crosses the Kings River. Purchase tickets; tours run every hour during summer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Spring and fall hours may vary.

Grizzly Falls. This beautiful waterfall is close to the road and is a great spot for a picnic lunch as you travel the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway.

Monarch Wilderness is split by the scenic byway. Beautiful and dramatic, this wilderness rises from 2,000 feet elevation at the South Fork of the Kings River to over 11,000 feet. The vegetation ranges from chaparral to sub-alpine, with mountain meadows, lakes, and spectacular geological formations. Three trailheads access 30.5 miles of hiking trails within Monarch Wilderness. Several of these trails also connect to the National Park’s backcountry. Visitors can enjoy a two or three-day hike along steep trails accessing Grizzly Lakes in the north, and Boulder Creek in the south.

Kings Wild and Scenic River is one of the most powerful and beautiful features in the Monument. Entering the water is NOT safe or recommended. During the late summer and fall the river is very popular with fly-fishing enthusiasts. Check with the California Department of Fish and Game for special fishing regulations.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Year-round facilities are open to the public at Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park and include Kings Canyon Visitor Center, market, lodge and store on Highway 180.

Length of Byway or Route

50.0 miles

Pet Friendly Notes

For you and your neighbors to see and appreciate wildlife, please note that pets are not permitted on any of the trails in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

In campgrounds and picnic areas, pets must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must be less than 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. For your pet's safety, please don't leave pets in hot cars. Pets cannot be left tied and unattended at any time.

In the National Forest, pets are allowed on trails. But the leash must be less than 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. Giant Sequoia National Monument is administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Nearby Places