Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are right next door to each other and managed by the National Park Service as one park. So it really doesn’t make sense to visit one without visiting the other. We couldn’t wait to finally explore the two national parks and were so excited when we realized Giant Sequoia National Monument was adjacent to the parks as well! In fact, the northern section of the monument wraps around a finger of Kings Canyon National Park, so it’s actually impossible to drive the entire Kings Canyon Scenic Byway without driving through Giant Sequoia National Monument.
After visiting the Kings Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove, hiking the General Grant Tree Trail, checking out Panoramic Point, and hiking the Big Stump Loop Trail, it was time to head down the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to check out the other half of the park — the actual Kings Canyon.
Not too far into our drive, we reached a scenic overlook with a misleading name…
The overlook may be called the Kings Canyon Overlook, but it doesn’t actually provide views of Kings Canyon. Instead, it’s an overlook in Kings Canyon National Park with views of Sequoia National Forest. Now when it comes to scenic viewpoints, this overlook actually stinks because the view is obstructed by trees! Don’t worry though, the view isn’t why you want to stop here the cairns are.
Just beyond the parking area is a wide open rock slope covered in stacked rock sculptures called cairns. It’s sort of an amazing sight and we couldn’t resist getting out of the car to check out the cairns up close!
Know Before You Go
- 328,315 acre Giant Sequoia National Monument was designated by President Clinton in April 2000. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Sequoia National Forest and includes 38 giant sequoia groves.
- Giant Sequoia National Monument is split into two separate sections. The northern section surrounds General Grant Grove and other parts of Kings Canyon National Park. The southern section, which includes Long Meadow Grove, is directly south of Sequoia National Park, surrounding the eastern half of the Tule River Indian Reservation.
- Notable spots in the Northern portion of the national monument are Indian Basin Grove and Princess Campground, Converse Basin Grove, and the Boole Tree.
- Notable spots in the Southern portion of the national monument, are Belknap Grove, Tule River Canyon, Trail of 100 Giants, and Freeman Creek Grove.