Lodge at a Glance: John Muir Lodge
Named for the famed naturalist and preservationist, the John Muir Lodge provides an escape from daily life in the middle of the beauty of Kings Canyon National Park. Each of the 34 rooms is appointed with rustic wood furniture, and there’s complimentary WiFi in the common spaces.
- Grab a bite to eat at the Grant Grove Restaurant, where you can order everything from rainbow trout amandine to multi-grain pancakes.
- Curl up by the fireplace in the lobby or watch the sunset from the public patios, which are equipped with sturdy wooden benches and adirondack chairs.
- Cool day trip: On guided tours of Crystal Cave, you can explore more than 2,000 feet of subterranean passages; it’s located about 40 miles south of the lodge.
- One of the largest trees on Earth, the General Grant tree, is less than a mile from the lodge; it’s the third-largest in the world, to be precise, and 1,650 years old tree.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California: Walking Among Giants in the Sierra Nevada
In the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks live side by side and cover a whopping 865,964 acres. Perhaps even more impressive is that 97% of that is true wilderness. Even the rivers that run through the parks refuse to be restrained: their rapids and obstacles are so intense that only the most advanced kayakers are advised to attempt to navigate them.
Luckily, you don’t have to be an experienced backpacker to take in the natural beauty of the parks. The moderate 7-mile trail to the Watchtower provides a bird’s-eye view of the 1,200-foot Tokopah Falls and has been called a “Legendary Day Hike” by National Geographic. You can drive to see General Sherman, the largest living tree in the world; at an estimated 2,300 years old, it’s also one of the oldest. In the winter, cross-country skiing trails open up, and there are designated snowplay areas for sledding and snowman building.