Planning a Trip to King’s Canyon National Park

After our first successful overnight backpacking trip, Brittany and I immediately wanted to start planning our next weekend escape. We now had much better expectations of what we were capable of accomplishing so we really wanted to step up the trip difficulty and go for an extra night as well. We didn’t have a set location in mind for the trip, but the dates would have to fit into Brittany’s work schedule. Luckily her company would have an extra long four-day weekend for the Fourth of July, so the dates were easy to decide on. So it was settled, we would do a backcountry trip, for three days, Fourth of July weekend.

Planning these little trips mostly falls into my domain, Brittany of course approves of what I eventually come up with, but generally she trusts me enough to lay out the foundation. I settled on Sequoia / Kings Canyon pretty quickly since it was somewhere new to both of us, only a short 3 hour drive from home, and we wanted to start exploring some National Parks, but picking exactly what to do would be more of a challenge. Since we were not only planning a trip with only two months notice, but also aiming for a holiday weekend our options were sort of going to limit themselves. This unique situation would actually end up helping us out though in my opinion.

Every time I found a backpacking route that I liked, the permits for the area were of course already filled for our dates. At first I thought we might end up just sticking to a traditional campsite and have to miss out on our back country experience this time around, but those sites were booked up as well. I realized it wasn’t the type of camping that was the problem, but where I was looking. Of course all of the popular trails I was finding online, or the touristy areas in the National Park, were all booked up. I’m sure families from all over the country had made those reservations a year in advance for this holiday weekend. I needed to find something a little less traditional, maybe a little farther out, and go from there. 

Photo: NPS.gov

Photo: NPS.gov

First I decided to stop searching in Sequoia and move over to the Kings Canyon section of the duel park. While equally as beautiful, it’s just a bit further and attracts more of the adventure crowd and less of the tourists. To some extent Kings Canyon is mostly a day trip for visitors to Sequoia, so there were immediately more options for the overnight. I started going through the lists of trailheads that still had permit availability and saw that Redwood Canyon not only had availability, but less overnighters were allowed in this section of the park to begin with. Permits in this section of the park only allow for 2 nights max, which may not be long enough for some backpackers, but fit perfectly for us anyway. It’s exclusivity was intriguing to me and after a little more research I knew that it was the absolute perfect location for our weekend getaway.

Redwood Canyon seemed to offer exactly what Brittany and I had in mind for our trip. All of the info for hiking the canyon that I found recommended it be done as a long day hike or an overnight. Since Brittany and I wanted to stay out for 2 nights it would be nice to just take everything at a nice slow pace that we could stop and enjoy all of the different parts of the forest instead of rushing through to make camp at a specific time. We would end up changing our plan a bit once we actually got into the forest, but on paper before hand it was planned out just how we wanted.

Getting a permit was super easy once we knew where we wanted to camp. All I had to do was email in an application for which trailhead we wanted to enter, on which date, and where we would exit on what date. Since we were hiking a loop we would be entering and exiting at the same point and we applied for the two night maximum. A few days later I received an email with the approval and a link to make a payment. There was just a $10 application fee and then $5 per person for the permit. You can’t beat $20 for a three day / two night adventure! We had our route planned, permit approved, and we were ready to go.

We’ll be sharing more about this trip and how it turned out in later blog posts (It was amazing by the way!), but for now I just wanted to tell you a little bit about our thought process and decision making going into it. This post is a little more of a journal entry and less of an educational article than my first few posts on the site, so let me know if you prefer one or the other, or if we should keep mixing it up like this. Brittany and I are both very excited about what this website will become, and we definitely appreciate all of your input, so feel free to leave a comment and let us know. In my next entry Brittany and I are going to take you through some of the gear that we brought with us on this trip, so keep an eye out for that next week.


"The Redwood Mountain Grove is the world's largest sequoia grove and, though partially logged, it still has more old growth than any other grove. The part of the grove within Kings Canyon National Park is in nearly pristine condition, and unlike the Giant Forest and Grant Grove, it has a real wilderness feel and relatively few visitors; on a holiday weekend you might encounter another hiker once or twice an hour.

- David Baselt (Redwood Canyon Hikes)