Kings Canyon National Park -- Kings Canyon

July 25, 2010

The drive over the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway was the most beautiful part of the trip.

An overlook near Grant Grove provided views of the canyon, but seeing it from here was nothing like seeing it up close.

See the difference?

This mountain was a prominent feature.

We were outside the park, so there was some commerce. How could we resist a sign like this?

The ice cream at the Kings Canyon Lodge was unremarkable, but the gas pumps were decidedly unusual.

A sign indicated that these were “America’s oldest double gravity pumps,” dating from 1928.

But look at the price! Good thing we had bought gas in Squaw Valley!

The road descended deeper into the canyon.

I was fascinated by these spiny formations, and wondered whether they were volcanic in origin.

Peering down into the Kings River. Although the canyon has a river running through it, it is glacially formed.

As we drove on, we saw more and more fascinating formations.

I loved the little tree growing way up there.

Deeper and deeper into the canyon.

Looking steeply down.

The majestic Kings River.

Deep into the canyon, as we entered the national park itself, the hot and sunny weather suddenly became overcast. In the bottom of the canyon near the campsites, it rained on us. The rain felt good, as it had been quite hot before.

I believe that the reason why these trees are green on one side and brown on the other is because the brown sides were damaged by a recent fire.

There was further evidence of fire around this manzanita. The burned landscape under the cloud cover had an eerie beauty to it.

It was an odd experience to see manzanita after driving downhill. Usually, we hike, drive or ride up through a forest and then find ourselves in a chaparral environment with manzanita. But we had come down from 2,000 m (6,500 ft) at Grant Grove to only 1,403 m (4,603 ft) at Cedar Grove. We’d gone above the chaparral into a different environment and come back down into it.

We made sure to drive all the way to the end of the road before turning around and heading back up.

We tried not to make too many stops on the way back up, but the views were so wonderful, and the light a little bit different, so we couldn’t resist a few.

This formation reminds me of El Capitan.

I was fascinated by the layers and patterns in this rock wall.

We had enjoyed the Crystal Cave so much that we had contemplated stopping at Boydon Cavern, about halfway between Grant and Cedar Groves, on the way down. We stopped to check it out at 2:45, and saw that the next (purportedly 45-minute) tour was at 3:00, and decided we did not have enough time. But on the return trip, when we found ourselves approaching Boydon Cavern just a bit before 4:00, we decided to stop to see if we could take the 4:00 tour. Our eyes were so wide with wonder at all of the sights around us that we felt we didn’t want to miss anything, even if it meant eating Subway sandwiches in the car for dinner. Sure enough, we were able to take the tour and see another pretty cave.

On to Boydon Cavern.

Last updated: 07/28/2010 by Eric and Beth Zuckerman