Kings Canyon Camping

Kings Canyon Camping | Ultimate Guide To Kings Canyon National Park Camping

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Kings Canyon Camping

Kings Canyon National Park is adjacent to Sequoia National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s known for its huge sequoia trees, notably the gigantic General Grant Tree in Grant Grove; and it’s granite canyon walls. In fact, the Kings Canyon Camping gets its name from the granite canyons that dominate the park. The park is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and it is magnificent. Don’t visit without a camera.

If your goal is to camp – you have dozens of options, from dispersed camping to lodge luxury and everything in between. Kings Canyon National Park has fourteen campgrounds, including three that are open year-round. Most campgrounds are first-come, first-served, with up to six people allowed per standard site. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring with grill, and a metal food-storage box. Group sites can hold from 7 to 50 people and have extra parking, picnic tables, and other amenities.

There are also four lodges – with varying amenities. The campgrounds listed here differ in the amenities they offer, so check the website for more details.

The National Park Service operates all campgrounds in Sequoia & Kings Canyon.  Advance reservations are available for Lodgepole and Dorst campgrounds; all others are first-come, first-served. Regardless of which Sequoia & Kings Canyon campground you choose, it will be provisioned with picnic tables, fire grills, and bear-proof storage boxes.

Most campgrounds here will have markets, showers, laundry facilities, restaurants, and gift shops just a short drive away.

Campsites can be reserved up to six months in advance at Potwisha, Buckeye Flat, Lodgepole, Dorst Creek, Sunset, and Sentinel campgrounds, and also at any campground with group campsites.

Camping with an RV or Trailer in Kings Canyon Campground

If you plan to bring your camping trailer or RV check vehicle-length limits on park roads before deciding which road to take into the park. Because of road construction, vehicles over 22 feet are prohibited between Hospital Rock and Giant Forest. If you have a longer vehicle and plan to drive to sequoia groves, use the northern park entrance into Kings Canyon National Park via Highway 180. In the event you use the southern entrance via Highway 198, you won’t be able to drive a longer RV or trailer to the Giant Forest.

If you’ve never camped before, or you’re hesitant to try staying in a more rustic setting, check out these helpful articles on the Kings Canyon National Park website.

Hume Lake Area Campgrounds – Kings Canyon Camping

Kings Canyon CampingPrincess Campground – Kings Canyon Camping 

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This campground is within a sequoia grove and near a large meadow. It’s at 5900 feet (1800 m), and has vault toilets and potable water. A dump station here serves all of the campgrounds in the area. Reservations are recommended.

Kings Canyon CampingHume Lake Campground – Kings Canyon Camping

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This campground offers easy access to fishing and water recreation at Hume Lake. A village nearby offers a market, gas station, restaurant, and other services. The campground has flush toilets, and water is available. Reservations are recommended.

Courtesy of: maryjomellado.com

Tenmile Campground – Kings Canyon Camping

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This small, primitive campground is a ten-minute drive from Hume Lake. There are vault toilets, and no water is available.

Landslide Campground – Kings Canyon Camping

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This small, primitive campground has 9 sites, including 6 sites designated for tents only. The maximum RV length is 16 feet. There are vault toilets or water.

Convict Flat Campground – Kings Canyon Camping

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Kings Canyon CampingUnlike other campgrounds in the area, this is an unforested campground in the Kings Canyon. Its five sites are suitable for small or midsize trailers. Fire restrictions may be in effect here during dry weather. There are vault toilets, and no water is available.

Big Meadows and Stony Creek Areas

These campgrounds are along or near the Generals Highway south of the Highway 180 junction.

Kings Canyon Camping
Courtesy of visitcalifornia.com

Stony Creek Campground

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This forested campground at 6,400 feet (1950 m) in elevation is near a market, gas station, restaurant, and other services at Stony Creek Resort. It has 49 sites, toilets and potable water. Reservations are recommended.

Upper Stony Creek Campground

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This campground is just across the highway from Stony Creek Campground (above) and is also close to the services at Stony Creek Resort. It has 23 sites for RVs or single vehicles. Trails for mountain biking begin near the campground. There are vault toilets, and potable water is available.

Kings Canyon Camping

Horse Camp Campground

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This small campground can be reached along Big Meadows Road. Geared to horse riders, it offers horse corrals near the 5 campsites. It’s open from June – October, depending on snowmelt. There are vault toilets, and no water is available.

Buck Rock Campground

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This small campground has five sites near Big Meadows Creek at 7,600 feet (2300 m) in elevation. It is free to camp here. There is a maximum RV length of 16 feet (5 m). There are vault toilets, and no water is available.

Big Meadows Campground

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This campground is on Big Meadows Road, south of Grant Grove near the Generals Highway. It closes with snowfall and opens with snow melt. There are vault toilets, and no water is available. No reservations are necessary.

Dispersed Campgrounds – Kings Canyon Camping National Park

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. What Dispersed camping means is that there are no services at the site; such as trash removal. Little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits, are provided. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets. Here are some of the most popular dispersed Kings Canyon Camping sites.

      Hume Lake Ranger District 

      Abbott Creek Camping Area

      Cherry Gap OHV Staging Area

      Eastern Big Meadow Road Camping Area

      Tenmile Road Camping Area

      Western Big Meadow Road Camping Area

      Kern River Ranger District 

      Alder Creek Dispersed Camping

      Ant Canyon Dispersed Camping

      Black Gulch South Dispersed Camping

      Brush Creek Dispersed Camping

      Calkins Flat Dispersed Camping

      Chamise Flat Dispersed Campground

      Chico Flat Dispersed Camping

      Corral Creek Dispersed Camping

      Old Goldledge Dispersed Camping

      Springhill Dispersed Area

Kings Canyon Camping

Kings Canyon National Park Lodges

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If you want to camp in a Kings Canyon National Park’s campgrounds, there are plenty of campgrounds where you can do so – but none with amenities most people want, like showers, electricity, and a bed. For those “campers,” there are lodges, and Kings Canyon and the adjacent Sequoia National Park have plenty of them.

The Wuksachi Lodge – Kings Canyon Camping

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Every national park has its flagship lodge. You know, the lodge that’s on all the postcards, and that is the one place to stay because it showcases the best of everything about the park. Oh, and it usually has the best sunset and sunrise views as well. The Wuksachi Lodge is Sequoia National Park’s signature hotel. Once you visit, you’ll understand why. It’s a striking stone-and-cedar mountain lodge situated in the heart of the park and surrounded by a mighty sequoia forest. Best plus: It’s dog-friendly.

John Muir Lodge – Kings Canyon Camping

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Kings Canyon CampingKings Canyon flagship lodge is the John Muir Lodge. It too is a stone-and-timber retreat. Located in Grant Grove Village it’s only minutes away from historic Grant Grove and its towering forest of giant sequoias. Make your reservations now. There are only 36 rooms in this beautiful lodge. Built in 1998, the John Muir Lodge is the perfect lodge for visitors who want quiet, comfortable, national park accommodations. It features rough-hewn, open beam ceilings, stone fireplace, and a redwood mantel salvaged from a historic cabin in Sequoia National Park. There’s a large stone fireplace in the lodge, along with public balconies at the west end of the lodge to ensure guests have a relaxing stay. In 2014, all 36 of rooms of the lodge were updated with new carpet, flat-screen TVs, bedding, and furniture.

Wireless internet is available in all common areas of the lodge, although it’s limited because of the remote location. You can’t stream videos, watch movies, or upload large files, but you can check email, check on flight information and use some social media sites.

Grant Grove Lodge – Kings Canyon Camping

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Kings Canyon CampingIf you want comfort, but don’t need luxury, consider staying in the rustic surroundings of

the Grant Grove Cabins. The cabins are available in both timber and tent cabin styles, and are all within walking distance of the Grant Grove and world-famous General Grant Tree. The famous tree soars some 274 feet high. The proximity to the General Grant tree makes these simple cabins the most requested lodging options in Kings Canyon National Park.

Kings Canyon CampingCedar Grove Lodge – Kings Canyon Camping

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The more adventurous travelers prefer to stay at the Cedar Grove Lodge. Its location near Road’s End, a staging area for day hikes, backpackers, and horseback trips, makes it perfect for travelers who plan to spend most of their time outside the lodge and in the wilderness. Anyone heading to North Dome, Grand Sentinel, Zumwalt Meadow, Roaring Falls and Muir Rock, will appreciate this lodge, which is set on the banks of the wild and scenic Kings River.

Just because it’s remote, and visitors are advised to arrive before dark, it’s not bare of amenities. Cedar Grove Lodge has 21 guest rooms with two queen beds, private baths, air conditioning and telephones. The open-air patio balconies overlooking the Kings River, make for a perfect place to sit and recall the day’s adventures. A counter service snack bar offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s also a gift shop, market, ATM and laundry facility on site. These are just more of the things that make Cedar Grove Lodge a popular “base camp” for those wanting to spend time exploring the park.

Bearpaw Camp – Kings Canyon Camping

Kings Canyon CampingBearpaw High Sierra Camp® offers backpackers, hikers and nature enthusiasts a way to see the High Sierra in comfort and style.  The Lodge is 11.5 miles into the national park backcountry. The six tent cabins at Bearpaw sit high atop a 7,800-foot granite saddle overlooking the Great Western Divide.  Bearpaw High Sierra Camp is open June through September.

  • Six tent cabins, with wooden floors and canvas siding, each with two twin beds (each cabin can sleep three people, with one person on the floor. If you have someone in your group sleeping on the floor, that person must provide his or her own bedding and sleeping pad.
  • Bedding is provided (down comforter, blanket, sheets, towel, and sleeping pad)
  • There’s a central shower house with flush toilets and hot showers
  • A generous home-style breakfast and dinner are served daily and are included in the daily room rate
  • Boxed lunches can be purchased separately.

Kings Canyon National Park Campgrounds Regulations

Hookups and generators

There aren’t any RV hookups in the parks, but generators are allowed. Generator hours are from 9 am to 9 pm, except at Lodgepole and Dorst Creek campgrounds, where generators can only run from 8-11 am. and 5-8 pm.

Dump stations

Dump stations are located at Potwisha, Lodgepole, and Dorst Creek campgrounds. Please note: The dump station at Potwisha Campground is closed until further notice. There are no dump stations in Grant Grove or Cedar Grove, but there is a dump station at Princess Campground in Sequoia National Forest near Hume Lake. Dump stations at Lodgepole, Dorst Creek, and Princess campgrounds are only available during the summer months.

Camping outside Kings Canyon Campsite areas

If you don’t want to camp in a campsite, consider backpacking into the park. Wilderness permits are required year-round for all overnight trips in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ wilderness, but the good news is, they’re free. There are two seasons in the park for backpackers – the “Quota season,” and “Outside the quota season.”

To protect the Kings Canyon wilderness and preserve the wilderness experience for present and future generations, all overnight trips require a wilderness permit subject to daily entry quotas for each trail. Wilderness permits cost 10$ plus 5$ per person within the quota season, but permits are free and not subject to quota limits outside the season. They can be obtained at any time from drop boxes located outside of trailhead-specific Visitor Centers/Permit Stations.Day hikes do not require a permit, except for Mount Whitney. Wilderness permits are only issued at the visitor center or permit station closest to the trailhead.

For more details, including a list of all the trails, regulations, and forms for self-registration, visit the park’s website. You’ll need to register at least two weeks in advance to ensure you get a permit.

Kings Canyon Camping

Wildlife in Kings Canyon Campsites

Kings Canyon National Park is home to rattlesnakes, bears and cougars. But it’s the smaller wildlife that poses the biggest risk to visitors. Fleas on rodents in the park can carry plague, and deer-mouse feces can carry hantavirus. Avoid walking, camping, or allowing pets near rodent burrows or other areas of rodent activity. Do not feed or touch any wild or dead animals. Tell a ranger if you see a dead rodent.

Spelunking in Kings Canyon National Park

If you love caves, Kings Canyon has two popular ones – Boyden Cavern (named for the first man to live, and die, in the cave) and Crystal Cave. Tours are offered during the summer months. Pick your tour – a 45 minute daily Walk Tour, to half- and full-day tour with rappelling tours and canyoneering tour options. Bring a sweater or jacket. The cave’s temperature is a constant 53°F. Tickets for the Walk Tour can be purchased at Boyden Cavern in Kings Canyon. Rappelling Tours and Canyoneering Tours must be reserved in advance. For more information, call (888) 965-8243 or email boydencavern@gmail.com.

Hiking in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon offers hundreds of miles of maintained wilderness trails. There are short and easy strolls, led by the meandering Big Stump Trail. There are long and steep trails, offering dramatic views and great photos

Things to Do In Kings Canyon National Park

If you love the great outdoors and revel in the smell of pine and woodsmoke, Kings Canyon National park is a great getaway. There’s hiking, fishing, cave tours, and thousands of trails from which to experience the great outdoors. Don’t expect the traffic and confusion of a theme park destination. It’s simply not there. Plan to spend your time enjoying nature, dining at one of the handfuls of restaurants in or just outside the park, and getting back a calmer, more centered existence for a day, a week, or longer.

Dining in Kings Canyon National Park

Dining In Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks ranges from the national park lodge dining rooms at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia to the counter service cafe at Cedar Grove Lodge.

Expect casual, grab-and-go or picnic table provisions, including local microbrews and wine, to more formal dining.

The Peaks Restaurant at Wuksachi Lodge

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Who knew you could enjoy everything from savory pan-seared ruby-red trout, to the perfect pound of pure grass-fed beef in a mouth-watering burger inside a national park? But you can – at The Peaks Restaurant. This popular restaurant offers fresh, local, and sustainable cuisine. From their brimming breakfast buffet, to lunches of fresh, hearty soups, sandwiches, and salads, the Peaks is the perfect place to enjoy a signature Sierra Alpine dinner and a cocktail or glass of wine from their full bar.

Watchtower Deli

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The Watchtower Deli is located inside the Lodgepole Market Center. They offer fresh deli sandwiches, grab-and-go snacks, and all the ingredients to pack your own perfect picnic. You can also buy a pre packed box lunch that includes everything you need to have a picnic anywhere in the park. You can pre-order a custom picnic for pickup for your group as well. The Watchtower offers:

  • Gourmet sandwiches
  • Fresh wraps and salads
  • Packable snacks, healthful fruits, and juices

The Grant Grove Restaurant

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The Grant Grove Restaurant is an 8,000-square-foot restaurant that accommodates about 225 diners at once, in indoor and outdoor seating areas. The original restaurant built in the 1970s had a seating capacity of only 74. There’s a new fireplace, revamped indoor area with seating for 104, plus a new outdoor deck overlooking Bradley Meadow with seating for 46 and a large courtyard for grab-n-go dining with picnic tables seating 75. The Grant Grove Restaurant offers:

  • A new menu centered on locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients. Highlights include California-raised grass fed beef, San Joaquin Valley-raised organic poultry and eggs, and Monterey Bay Aquarium-approved seafood. Local farms and vendors, including Mountain Produce (Fresno, Calif.) and Sierra Seafood (Oakhurst, Calif.), will supply additional meat, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy and grains.
  • Large windows which feature improved views of the picturesque setting, surrounded by majestic giant sequoia trees and overlooking Bradley Meadow.

Cedar Grove Snack Bar at Kings Canyon National Park

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The Cedar Grove Café in the lodge serves light meals and snacks, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating with counter service. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, diners can opt for a booth indoors, or outdoor dining on a balcony that overlooks the Kings River.  Don’t let the term “snack bar” fool you. Besides the standard burger, hot dogs, salad, vegetarian options, and chili for lunch, they also offer full-sized dinners, including:

  • Creekside Trout
  • Grilled NY Strip Steak
  • Rosemary Honey Grilled Chicken
  • 1/2 Rack of Ribs
  • Baked Stuffed Potato

All served with corn on the cob and roasted potatoes

Lodgepole Market Center at Kings Canyon National Park

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If you’d rather fix your own meals, check out the Lodgepole Market Center. The center is open seasonally from April to October. The center is a full grocery store with a choice selection of outdoor equipment, grab-and-go trail snacks, deli sandwiches, and national park souvenirs.

The Lodgepole Market Center is located approximately two miles from Wuksachi Lodge.

Harrison Grill at Kings Canyon National Park

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Craving pizza or standard fast food? There’s no Domino’s or Papa John’s Pizza, but there is the Harrison Grill. Find all your standard grill food like burgers and hot dogs, plus pizza, chicken and more.

  • Hearty char broil tri-tip
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Chicken
  • Pizza
  • French fries