Tuesday, 27 November 2012 9:56 AM
If you are organising a holiday to the Golden West, consider spending some time at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Offering the chance to explore unique landscapes and try lots of exciting activities, these twin sites are ideal for enjoying the great outdoors. Read our guide to the top reasons to visit here on your next getaway.
See amazing landscapes
Situated adjacent to one another, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are often talked about as one park – just for simplicity's sake. They are located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and are divided into five regions, each offering their own attractions and features. One of these regions, the Giant Forest, ranks among the most exciting spots to visit, thanks to its incredible giant sequoia trees.
Giant sequoias are the largest tree species in the world and, by strolling through this forest, you can really appreciate their size. While many of the trees seem impossibly vast, there is one particularly worth seeking out – General Sherman. This is 84 m tall and, in terms of volume, is the largest tree in the world. To find out more about the species, as well as what else you can see in the forest, visit the Giant Forest Museum when you arrive.
Cedar Grove is another excellent spot to see some impressive landscapes. This glacial valley is renowned for its imposing cliffs and beautiful waterfalls, but two of the most awe-inspiring things to see are actually vast rock formations. The North Dome, at 8,717 ft, and the Grand Sentinel (8,518 ft) are incredibly impressive sights, rising majestically from the canyon floor.
Go on fantastic walks
Walking in these national parks is a real joy, simply because there is both a vast network of trails and so many exciting sights to trek to. Fortunately, there are routes to suit all abilities, so whether you are hoping to set yourself a challenge or go on a somewhat gentler walk with the family in tow, there is the possibility of doing so. If you want to visit somewhere dramatic on your trek, Moro Rock is a fantastic option.
This granite dome can be found in the Giant Forest region. With a 0.25-mile staircase to its summit, it's quite a tough climb, so it's best left to more experienced walkers. The view from the top is more than worth the effort, though, since it offers fantastic views over not only the park, but also the Great Western Divide.
A gentler walk, meanwhile, is the trail to Tokopah Falls. First head to the Lodgepole Campground and find the Marble Fork Bridge; the trail starts just beyond this. Follow it along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah Rover, before reaching the Tokopah Canyon and, shortly after, the splendid Tokopah Falls. At some 1,200 ft high, this natural wonder really is breathtaking.
Go horse riding
There are countless outdoor activities to try in these two parks, but one that might be particularly fun for animal-loving families is horse riding. You can do this at Cedar Grove, but bear in mind this part of the park is only open to the public during the summer months. If you want to organise an excursion, head to Cedar Grove Park Station. Here, you can book yourself on a variety of horse riding packages, from hour-long tours to multiday deals.