Top Ten Alternative National and State Parks
|A hiker admires the view in Kings Canyon National Park (courtesy, National Park Service)|
3. Kings Canyon National Park, California
(Instead of Yosemite National Park, California)
Knowing that legendary conservationist John Muir called Kings Canyon "a rival to Yosemite" should be reason enough to visit the park. Only 575,000 people made it to see the canyon's glacial-carved grandeur last year, making it a surefire way to sidestep Yosemite's throngs (3.4 million people visited the superstar park in 2008) without sacrificing scenery. The brawny Sierra Nevada mountains prevail over the park's east side, including several 13,000- and 14,000-plus-foot peaks. Numerous placid lakes mirror the granite giants, and huge, gaping canyons carved by rivers and glaciers slice through the landscape. Kings Canyon, the deepest canyon in the Lower 48, cuts through the middle of the park and plummets 8,200 feet. The cool, cedar-lined chasm is formed by the South Fork of the powerful Kings River, whose roar echoes in the canyon. Yosemite's grandeur is also evoked in Le Conte Canyon, in the northeast of the park, where water cascades over giant granite slabs, fireweed flares in wide meadows, and towering domes and citadels of rock rise precipitously from the valley floor.
GORP's Kings Canyon National Park Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication