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Top National Parks to Visit in Summer


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Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, California
Hiker at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

A hiker amongst the giant trees at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

© footloosiety via Flickr

If you want a reminder of just how small you are in this vast world, head to the Giant Forest of sequoias. This national park contains big canyons and big trees (formerly two separate parks) and came together to make up one park that stretches 66 miles long and 36 miles wide at its widest point. Almost every mile of this giant wonderland is wilderness, so much so that a hiker can hike to a destination that is farther from a road than any other national park in the system. And while it's rare that any hiker can cover the park's 800 miles of trails, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park offers more to see and do than any other summer destination.

Starting with the trees, visitors should not miss Giant Forest or Grant Grove. Within these spots, you can take in the best of both worlds. In Giant Forest stands the world's largest tree - the General Sherman Tree - about 2,100 years old, 274.9 feet tall, and 102.6 feet in circumference. It's pretty hard to describe how massive this tree is; you just gotta see it! Many of the park's trails begin at this location - it's pretty hard to miss. Also be sure to check out the Four Guardsmen - four sequoias that seem to "stand guard" over the forest.

The second must-see is Grant Grove which lies within Kings Canyon National Park. It will be hard to miss the General Grant Tree, which stands 267.4 feet tall and 107.6 feet in circumference. Visitors can take note of the preserved trees while noticing how many have been lost to logging. Don't miss Centennial Stump - a stump of a sequoia that was cut down for the Philadelphia 1875 Centennial. It will make you appreciate all that the parks works to preserve.

Cedar Grove is a popular destination where visitors can see other trees like live oak, white fir, black oak, and sugar pine. It's a great area to walk around, bike, and take in the trees, rivers, and meadows around. Another must-see is Crystal Cave, which does require purchased tickets to enjoy. The cave is unlike most tours, short of fancy lights, and big on showcasing the natural limestone, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns.

If you really want to make the most of your summer vacation, there's no better way than enjoying two parks in one!

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