Top Ten Offbeat Summer Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Mount Whitney, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Mount Whitney, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California (iStockphoto)

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

866,000 acres

1.4 million annual visits

Attractions: The first thing that comes to mind about these parks are the eponymous big trees. And the giant sequoias are awe-inspiring in their enormity. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48, is the other enormous attraction in this park. But what we appreciate about these parks is the pristine condition in which it preserves the various eco-zones of the Sierra Nevada: the foothills, the middle ranges, the alpine areas.

Activities: This is a hikers park, criss-crossed by some of the best trails in the West.

Finding Solitude: Sequoia and Kings Canyon are probably the most popular of our selected parks, but given the fact that Yosemite next door gets more than twice as many visitors (3.5 million), this qualifies as a less populous alternative.

As is the case with any other natural area, once you step a mile or two down a trail you usually leave the crowds behind. Mineral King is recommended for those seeking an escape from civilization. Mount Whitney is a popular summit, tackled by thousands every summer. If you want a more peaceful ascent of Whitey, take the backdoor up along the High Sierra Trail.


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