Explore granite domes, thundering waterfalls, and towering trees: Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon reveals the best of these stunning parks. Inside you'll find:
- Flexible, strategic itineraries, ranging from one day in each park to a week-long trip covering all three, including the best ways to avoid the crowds
- The top experiences and unique ideas for exploring each park: Ride the open-air tram through Yosemite Valley, or hike downhill from Glacier Point past roaring waterfalls. Drive the legendary Generals Highway, or take a scenic bike ride to pristine lakes (and yes, more waterfalls!). Go for a horse-drawn wagon ride on a pioneer history tour, or sign up for rock climbing lessons. Walk among the goliaths of Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, and stop at a historic lodge for dinner and a well-deserved drink
- Strategies for getting to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon and traveling between them, including coverage of gateway cities and towns
- Honest advice on when to go, what to pack, and where to stay inside and outside the parks, including the best places to pitch a tent, park your RV, or relax at an upscale resort
- Expert tips from seasoned explorer and outdoor expert Ann Marie Brown for travelers looking to go hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, and more, plus essential and health and safety information
- Detailed hike descriptions with individual trail maps marked with duration, elevation change, and difficulty
- Up-to-date information on park fees, permits, and reservations
- Full-color, vibrant photos and detailed maps throughout
- Full coverage of all three national parks, with focused chapters on Yosemite Valley, Wawona and Glacier Point, Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows, Hetch Hetchy, the Eastern Sierra, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon
- Recommendations for families, international visitors, travelers with disabilities, and traveling with pets
- Thorough background on the wildlife, terrain, culture, and history
Want to see more of California's greatest hits? Try Moon Death Valley National Park, Moon Palm Springs & Joshua Tree, or Moon Coastal California. Hitting the road? Try Moon California Road Trip.
For full coverage of America's national parks, check out Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 59 National Parks.
About the Author
More than two decades later, Ann Marie has gained substantially more outdoor savvy and is a dedicated California outdoorswoman. She hikes, camps, and bikes more than 150 days each year. She is the author of 13 books with Moon, including several outdoors titles-101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, Moon California Waterfalls, and Northern California Biking-and is the co-author of California Hiking with Tom Stienstra. Her work has also appeared in Sunset, VIA, and California magazines.
Read an Excerpt
From Moon Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon
The Valley is the centerpiece of Yosemite and the place where the vast majority of visitors spend most of their time. It offers the greatest number of organized activities of any region of the park, ranging from nature walks to evening theater, from ice-skating to photography seminars, from Indian basket making to rock climbing. Here are the sites you can’t miss if you’re after the true Yosemite experience.
El Capitan: Towering 3,593 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley, El Cap is the undisputed king of the granite monoliths and a mecca for daredevil rock climbers. Get a good look at “The Chief” from the meadow at its base.
Ahwahnee Hotel: It costs a bundle to spend the night here, but it is completely free to wander amid the “public rooms” of this splendid 1920s-era hotel. Check out the stained glass windows, historic Yosemite paintings and drawings, and Native American baskets, or buy a drink at the bar.
Half Dome: Your first look at this sheared-off granite dome always comes as a surprise, even though you’ve undoubtedly seen its image hundreds of times on postcards, calendars, and Ansel Adams prints. Hardcore hikers who secure a permit in advance can trek to its summit and stand atop its bald pate; everybody else can admire it from below or nearby.
Lower Yosemite Fall: Upper, Lower, and Middle Yosemite Falls combined make up the highest waterfall in North America, topping out at a prodigious 2,425 feet. It’s a strenuous hike to reach the top of the upper fall, but the base of the lower fall can be visited via an easy, level stroll of a few hundred yards. Bring your rain gear between April and June; the fall’s spray drenches all who come near.
Mist Trail to Vernal Fall: If you’re only going to do one hike from Yosemite Valley, this should be it. The three-mile round-trip is strenuous, with plenty of rock stairsteps to climb and descend, but it’s short enough to be doable by most everyone. The big thrill is hiking so close to Vernal Fall that you will feel like you’re a part of it.
Bridalveil Fall: The most dependable waterfall in Yosemite Valley, 620-foot Bridalveil flows year-round, even in the dry late summer and fall months. A 200-yard walk will take you to an overlook point below the falls. In the spring and early summer, prepare to get wet from the billowing spray.
Yosemite Theater: For only a few bucks, you can take in some live theater in a small, intimate auditorium almost every summer evening and most weekends in winter. An array of entertaining and informative plays depict slices of Yosemite and California history.
Just south of Yosemite lie two less-visited but equally spectacular national parks, famous for giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons, and roaring rivers. Don’t miss these treasures on your trip.
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway: The drive from Grant Grove to Road’s End at Cedar Grove is a 31-mile stretch of eye-candy scenery following the free-flowing Kings River.
General Grant Tree: It’s an easy walk to the nation’s Christmas tree, the second-largest tree on earth by volume.
Buena Vista Peak: It’s a mere one-mile walk to this spectacular 360-degree vista.
Roaring River Falls: A short walk leads to a rocky gorge that rushes with snowmelt in spring.
Zumwalt Meadow Loop: Get up close and personal with one of the quieter stretches of the Kings River on this 1.8-mile loop.
General Sherman Tree: This mind-boggling giant sequoiathe largest tree on earth by volumeis a must-see.
Giant Forest Museum: Check out the exhibits in this historic building to learn about the amazing lives of giant sequoias and their long reign on earth. Then see the giants in person on the Big Trees Trail.
Moro Rock: A heart-pumping climb up 390 stairsteps takes you to the top of this 6,725-foot granite dome.
Tokopah Falls: This gentle hike along the Marble Fork Kaweah River leads to views of Tokopah Falls as it crashes over granite slabs and then fans out along the valley floor.
Congress Trail: Escape the Giant Forest crowds on this beautiful loop past some of the world’s most spectacular trees.