OverviewGrant Grove is one of two logistical centers in Kings Canyon National Park (the other is Cedar Grove at the base of the canyon, about 1 hour away). Grant Grove is the first one you come to as you enter the park on Hwy 180. It is on a gently sloping plateau at approximately 6,500 feet in elevation and is situated amongst Sierra mixed conifer forest. There are several sequoia groves nearby as well as beautiful mountain meadows, streams, waterfalls, and vista points.
In Grant Grove there is a visitor center, market, restaurant, lodge, cabins, post office, campgrounds, etc.... almost everything hikers and climbers need when in the park, all within walking distance of each other. The only thing really missing is a gas station, but there are two nearby, one at Hume Lake and one at Kings Canyon Lodge, each about 15 miles away. You can also buy emergency gasoline at the Grant Grove Market, but expect to pay a pretty penny! So it is highly recommended you fuel up your vehicle before you come.
A bit of history... In 1890 shortly after Sequoia National Park was created (as the nation's second national park), General Grant National Park followed. It was just a small national park that is in the same place Grant Grove is today. It contained the Grant Sequoia Grove, home of the General Grant Tree which is the 2nd largest tree in the world. It is also the nation's Christmas Tree and the nation's only living shrine. In 1940 General Grant National Park was absorbed into the new and larger Kings Canyon National Park. Today both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are managed as one unit and cover almost 900,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. More than 80% of these parks is designated Wilderness.
Getting ThereFrom Fresno head east on Highway 180. Unless you get behind a slow motorhome, it should only take a little over an hour to get to Grant Grove. This road is open year-round but it does get snow in the wintertime and chains may be required.
You can also get to Grant Grove from the south via Highway 198 and the General's Highway. From Visalia head east on Highway 198 and in about one hour you will reach the park entrance. Here this road becomes the General's Highway. Follow it up to Lodgepole, about one hour from the park entrance. From Lodgepole head west and in about one hour you will get to Grant Grove. This road is closed periodically in the wintertime following snow storms and chains may be required at any time.
Other less-travelled ways... Highway 245 that goes north from Highway 198 near Woodlake up to Highway 180 near Pinehurst is a very winding slow-going road. It is one I have only traveled once and have vowed to never go that way again! The Dry Creek Road is a better option. From Visalia head east on Highway 198 to Lemon Cove. In Lemon Cove turn left on Highway 216 which goes west towards Woodlake. Go just a short distance and just after you cross the bridge across the Kaweah River turn right on the Dry Creek Road. This road will eventually tie in with Highway 245 but is not nearly as winding. It is especially pretty to drive in the spring (April/May) when the wildflowers are blooming or fall (October/November) when the leaves are changing color. Both Highway 245 and Dry Creek may have chain requirements in the winter months.
One other option: Highway 63 north from Visalia will take you up to Highway 180 near Squaw Valley and from here you can head east on Highway 180 to Grant Grove.
Please note that if you're driving an RV longer than 22 feet Highway 180 or Highway 63 are your only good options as all of the other roads are very steep and winding.
Red TapePark Entrance Fees of $20 per car apply. You can also buy an annual pass for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks for $30. Or you can buy an $80 America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Pass good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase. If you're disabled, you may want to get an Access Pass which are free and good for a lifetime. If you're 62 years of age or older, a Senior Pass can be purchased for $10 and they're also good for a lifetime. Click here for more info on fees and passes.
Pets are not allowed on trails in the National Park but are allowed in the campgrounds and on paved roads on a leash.
Bicycles are allowed on the paved roads but not on trails in the National Park.
Drive a short distance to the National Forest and you can take pets and bicycles on trails. Make sure you have a good map of the area so you know when you're on National Park land versus National Forest land. Click here to order a Sequoia National Forest map. Please note that bicycles are not allowed on trails in designated Wilderness areas.
Food storage regulations are something you should be aware of... Opportunistic black bears are always on the lookout for food or trash left unnatended or improperly stored! Click here for more info.
Please practice Leave No Trace ethics in all areas!
Weather & WebcamsSummer in the middle elevations of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (4000-7000 feet) is characterized by warm days and cool evenings. These elevations receive an average of 40-45" (102-114 cm) of precipitation annually. Much of this falls during the winter, resulting in a deep blanket of snow from December to May. Sub-zero temperatures, however, are rare. In the summer, occasional afternoon thundershowers may occur.
Temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit
Jan: extreme low -6, average low 24, average high 42, extreme high 68
Feb: extreme low -4, average low 25, average high 44, extreme high 70
Mar: extreme low 0, average low 26, average high 46, extreme high 76
Apr: extreme low 8, average low 30, average high 51, extreme high 77
May: extreme low 13, average low 36, average high 58, extreme high 83
Jun: extreme low 22, average low 44, average high 68, extreme high 91
Jul: extreme low 34, average low 51, average high 76, extreme high 92
Aug: extreme low 28, average low 50, average high 76, extreme high 94
Sep: extreme low 23, average low 45, average high 71, extreme high 90
Oct: extreme low 11, average low 38, average high 61, extreme high 82
Nov: extreme low 4, average low 31, average high 50, extreme high 96
Dec: extreme low -4, average low 27, average high 44, extreme high 73
Tulare County Mountains Weather Forecast
Southern Sierra Webcams - check out the views from Buck Rock, Park Ridge, and Hume Lake!
Visitor Center, Food, Shops, and Post OfficeThe newly renovated Kings Canyon Park Visitor Center is open daily 8am - 6pm in summer; 9am - 5pm spring & fall; 9:30am - 4:30pm in winter. There are new exhibits in both English and Spanish. There is a 15 minute movie, books and maps available for purchase, a first aid station, a pay phone, public bathrooms and water fountain, and local wilderness permits (Jennie Lakes Wilderness and Redwood Canyon) are issued here. Their phone number is (559) 565-4307
The Grant Grove Restaurant serves your typical American fare (sandwiches and burgers and the like) and is reasonably priced. There is also an ATM machine and public restroom. Open daily 7am - 9pm in summer; reduced hours in other seasons.
The adjoining gift shop has lots of souvenirs and other goodies. Open daily 8am - 8pm in summer; 9am - 7pm fall through spring.
The Grant Grove Market has your basic food and gear supplies. They also rent out bear canisters and snowshoes and cross-country skis in the wintertime. Open daily 8am - 8pm in summer; 9am - 6pm fall through spring.
The post office has a pay telephone and the lobby with a stamp machine is open 24 hours a day. Open weekdays; times vary. Address mail to park visitors: c/o General Delivery, Kings Canyon National Park, CA 93633. (559) 335-2499.
All of these facilities are within a few steps of one another and in the same area as the visitor center.
Camping, Lodging, and ShowersThere are three campgrounds in the Grant Grove area. These are Azalea, Sunset, and Crystal Springs. All are first-come, first-served. There is a group site at Sunset Campground as well. All three campgrounds have flush toilets, bear boxes, and are just a short walk or drive from the visitor center complex.
Azalea is open year-round. On Grant Tree Road, 1/4 mile north of visitor center. 113 sites. $18/day.
Crystal Springs: Usually open for Memorial Day weekend, then open as needed through Labor Day. North of visitor center 1/4 mile. 63 sites. $18/day.
Sunset: Usually open for Memorial Day weekend, then open as needed through Labor Day. South of visitor center 1/4 mile. Limited trailer/RV space. 200 sites. $18/day. Parking for naturalist programs at the amphitheater is here. Group sites reserved by mail only.
Camping outside of developed campgrounds is allowed on Sequoia National Forest land surrounding the Grant Grove area. It is recommended you buy a Sequoia National Forest map and talk to the folks in the visitor center about good places to try. Remember to bring your own water, pack out what you pack in, and pull safely off the road but don't drive off-road. You will also need a campfire permit if you wish to have a campfire or charcoal barbeque in a dispersed camping site. These are available free of charge from the Grant Grove Visitor Center or any Forest Service, California Department of Forestry (CDF), or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office.
The John Muir Lodge was built in 1999 and is a beautiful place to stay if you don't feel like roughing it. The Grant Grove lodge features rustic cabins and tent cabins. Please visit www.sequoia-kingscanyon.com for more information.
Not too far away from Grant Grove to the east along the General's Highway is Montecito-Sequoia Lodge and Stony Creek Lodge. To the east along Highway 180 is Kings Canyon Lodge. For more information about this lodge please call (559) 335-2405.
Showers are available for $3 at Grant Grove Lodge Daily 11am - 4pm. Visit the information desk between the Grant Grove Gift Shop and Restaurant for more information!
Picnic Areas & Horseback RidingPicnic Areas:
There are two picnic areas, Columbine and Big Stump. Tables, restrooms, fire pits with grills, drinking water available. In winter these become snowplay areas, and water and restrooms are available only at Big Stump.
Columbine: On Grant Tree Road, 1/2 mile northwest of visitor center.
Big Stump: On Highway 180, 3 miles southwest of visitor center.
Grant Grove Stables - on Highway 180, 1/2-mile north of the visitor center. 1-2 hour rides 8am - 6pm. (559) 335-9292. Closes late fall through spring; call (559) 337-2314 for information.
Trails to Hike and Things to See
The General Grant Tree Trail
Length is approximately 1/2 mile and it is an easy, paved trail, great for the whole family.
Along the way you'll see the Robert E. Lee Tree, the Fallen Monarch, the Gamlin Cabin, the Centennial Tree, the California Tree, and of course the General Grant Tree.
The Robert E. Lee Tree grows next to the Fallen Monarch and is the 11th largest tree in the world.
The Gamlin brothers used the Fallen Monarch, a fire-hollowed sequoia log, as a summer residence while they were building their cabin, and also used it to house a hotel and saloon. John Trout and John Carrington, the loggers who felled the Centennial Tree, also lived here, and the Cavalry used it as a temporary stable for their 32 horses.
Thomas and Israel Gamlin built their cabin from sugar pine logs in 1872. The Gamlins were the first white residents of the Grant Grove. They grazed cattle here during the summers before the sequoia grove was designated as a National Park. While General Grant National Park was created in 1890, the National Park Service did not come into existence until 1916. The first rangers in this park were members of the US Cavalry, who used this building for hay and grain storage. It was also the home of Ranger Davis, the park's first civilian ranger, from 1902 to 1909.
The Centennial Tree was chopped down in 1875 to be displayed at the America's Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. A sixteen-foot portion of the tree was sliced off, split into sections and hauled out of the forest by bull team. Unfortunately, because of the tree's great size and the obvious lines where the pieces had been reassembled, the tree was laughed out of the exposition as the "California Hoax."
In August 1967, the California Tree was struck by lightning. The top 25' of the tree shattered and caught on fire. Although lightning-caused fires are a natural part of the sequoia forest, the California Tree is right next to a trail which hundreds of visitors walk every day. The Park Service decided that the smoke, burning embers and possible falling branches were a safety hazard, and that the fire needed to be put out. Park forester Charlie Castro climbed a fir tree adjacent to the giant sequoia, then traversed a rope stretched between the two trees and ascended to a place where he could extinguish the fire with a hose!
The General Grant Tree was discovered in 1862 by Joseph Hardin Thomas and named in 1867 by Lucretia Baker. Five years later, on March 1, 1872, Ulysses Grant, now president of the United States, signed the bill designating Yellowstone as the world's first national park. The area around the Grant Grove of giant sequoias was set aside in 1890 as General Grant National Park. (Yosemite National Park was created in the same piece of legislation.) In 1940, General Grant was included in the newly created Kings Canyon National Park.
President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed this "The Nation's Christmas Tree", and ceremonies are still held at the base of the tree on the second Sunday in December. In 1956, President Eisenhower designated the Grant Tree as a living National Shrine in memory of Americans who have died in war.
North Grove Loop Trail
Length is approximately 1.5 miles. From the General Grant Tree Trail Parking area hike east to the lesser-traveled North Grove Loop Trail. This trail leads past some beautiful sequoias and meadows.
Sequoia Lake Overlook/Dead Giant Loop
Length is approximately 2.2 miles. Starts near the Grant Tree parking area. The Dead Giant is an unusually large sequoia which shows signs of man-caused death. If you look closely, you will find axe marks girdling the tree, severing the cambium layer. With this living layer cut, nutrients could no longer move up the tree and the giant died. Also along this trail, you can enjoy a picturesque view of a historic mill pond and reflect on the differences between management of National Forest and National Park land.
Big Stump Basin Trail
Length is approximately one mile, it is a loop trail suitable for most hikers. The area reveals the remains of early logging. The Mark Twain Stump is all that's left of the 26-foot-wide, 1,700-year-old tree that took two men 13 days to cut down in 1891. Also, because sequoia wood decays slowly, piles of sawdust created more than a century ago still remain. Trail starts at the Big Stump Picnic Area on Highway 180 3 miles southwest of Grant Grove.
At Grant Grove Village, take the narrow, steep, 2.3-mile road that snakes east to Panoramic Point. From the parking area, take the one-quarter-mile trail to the 7,520-foot-high ridge. The view takes in a magnificent stretch of the High Sierra. You can see Hume Lake in Sequoia National Forest and, just beyond a low ridge behind the lake, Kings Canyon. No RVs or trailers are permitted.
Boole Tree Trail
From Grant Grove travel northeast about 5 miles to the turnoff to Converse Basin. From here it is about a 2.5 mile drive along a narrow dirt road to the Boole Tree Trailhead. It is a 2.5 mile round trip hike to the Boole Tree, the 6th largest tree in the world. Converse Basin was almost completely logged in the 1890's by the Sanger and later the Hume-Bennett Lumber Company. In 1935 the land was taken over by Sequoia National Forest and now you'll find many vigorous young sequoia trees growing amongst the giant stumps that remain from the logging operation. Ask for a map at the visitor center. Click here for my webpage describing a hike to the Boole Tree. Click here for more info on the lumbering operations. I also recommend the book The Felled the Redwoods by Hank Johnston.
Redwood Canyon is one of the largest of all sequoia groves, and contains the Hart Tree, the 24th largest sequoia. Sixteen miles of trail are available for short walks, day hikes and overnight backpacking trips (wilderness permits are required and are available at the Grant Grove Visitor Center). As you hike through sequoia/mixed conifer forest, meadow and shrubland, you will see sign of many fires, some recent, some ancient. The National Park Service and cooperating universities learned through observation and experiment at Redwood Canyon that fire is a critical factor in the health and vigor of sequoia forests. Beginning in 1969, prescribed fires have burned portions of this forest to allow giant sequoias to reproduce, to reduce fuel and to restore the forest to the condition it was 100 years ago. The trailhead for this area is 2 miles down a rough dirt road 5 miles south of Grant Grove. This road is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter. Click here for my webpage describing an overnight backpack trip in Redwood Canyon. Click here for the Summitpost page on Redwood Canyon.
Buena Vista Peak
The 2 mile round-trip hike up this granite peak begins just south of the Kings Canyon Overlook on the Generals Highway, 6 miles southeast of Grant Grove. From the top of Buena Vista Peak, a 360-degree view looks out over the majestic sequoias in Redwood Canyon, Buck Rock Fire Tower, and beyond to a splendid panorama of the high Sierra.
This spectacular granite outcropping east of Grant Grove has a fire lookout tower perched atop it. It was built in 1923 and is on the National Register of Historic Lookouts. It is still being manned in the summer months and the short hike and climb up the steep staircase is one I highly recommend! The view from the top is fantastic and the lookout personnel are very knowledgable and nice. Rock climbers often frequent the rock as well. Click here for the Summitpost page on Buck Rock.
There is a 3 mile trail that circles Hume Lake. Hume Lake was built as a mill pond, and to supply water for a flume that floated rough-cut sequoia lumber from Converse Basin to the planing mill at Sanger, 54 miles away. The lake is in Sequoia National Forest. During the summer, it also offers fishing, swimming, boat rental (available through Hume Lake Christian Camps) and a Forest Service campground, as well as gas, groceries and a small laundry. Hume Lake is about 15 miles from Grant Grove. You can go northeast on Highway 180 to the Hume Lake turnoff then go south to the lake. Or you can go southeast on the General's Highway to the Hume Lake turnoff then go north to the lake.
LinksSequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument