KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- With other national parks requiring reservations, it's the perfect time to explore the quieter, less-populated trails of Kings Canyon National Park.
"I mean when people think of the Central Valley they think of one of two parks, they either think of Yosemite or they think of Sequoia, they almost never think of Kings Canyon," said Kings Canyon Park Ranger Meredith Peterson.
Located less than an hour and a half from Fresno, Kings Canyon National Park lives in the shadow of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks - but that's become an advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a more relaxed atmosphere than trying to go to Yosemite Valley, not usually as crowded, which is really nice to kind of get you away from the people," Peterson said.
Currently, Yosemite National Park requires reservations to enter. The same cannot be said for Kings, making a spontaneous trip to the park possible.
The park also uses their newsletter (which is given to visitors when they enter the park) to highlight trails that are less popular and better for social distancing. For the more popular trails, rangers encourage visitors to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
"We really encourage people to travel with groups that they already live in," said Sintia Kawasaki-Yee with Kings Canyon National Park. She also said that if you do come in a large group, consider breaking up into smaller groups to avoid proximity with other groups on the trails.
The park features numerous highlights, including the General Grant Tree, Cedar Grove and Kings Canyon itself.
"There's a lot of speechlessnesses," Peterson said of visitors who see the sequoia trees for the first time. "I get a lot of people who were amazed, I get a lot of people who just had no idea how to describe these trees."
For more information on what you can find inside the park or to plan your trip, click here.