Many visitors get their first glimpse of the parks at this signature grove. If you’re arriving from Fresno via Highway 180, the parks’ northwest entrance is just a couple miles/kilometres from Grant Grove’s large visitor service area, which includes cabins, a lodge, a restaurant, a gift shop/grocery store, a post office, and several campgrounds. Almost anything you might need or want for your park visit is available here, including maps, and guidebooks, plus at Kings Canyon Visitor Center, where you can also chat with helpful park rangers. Several hiking trails begin near Grant Grove, including the short walk to Panoramic Point, which overlooks a maze of canyons and saw-toothed Sierra peaks (especially awesome at sunrise).
Busiest trails are near the General Grant Tree, also known as “the nation’s Christmas tree,” so dubbed by President Calvin Coolidge. Every year since 1926, the park has held a Yuletide celebration around the tree’s base. And there’s a lot of room to celebrate: the goliath measure 107 feet/33 metres in circumference. If it’s hard to wrap your mind around the numbers, picture this: If the General Grant Tree were transplanted to the middle of a freeway, its immense girth would block more than three lanes of traffic. A paved .3-mile/.5-km trail loops around the tree and visits neighboring giants, including the Fallen Monarch, a hollow, downed sequoia. Because of its immense girth, it was once used as a stable for the U.S. Calvary’s horses.