Kings Canyon National Park turned 75 in March, and neighboring Sequoia National Park will turn 125 on Sept. 26, 2015. In celebration of their big birthdays, both parks are offering special happenings throughout the year, some of them specifically designated for families. If you live in the area or are lucky enough to be vacationing there, don’t miss out on these great events (all of which are free, unless otherwise noted).
Hidden Trails of Sequoia and Kings Canyon
April to November
With over one million acres to explore in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, it’s difficult to decide where to start! Luckily, guides will direct families to the best views and hikes, with tours departing from Wuksachi Lodge and John Muir Lodge. The tours are available to all park visitors, though the National Park Service recommends them for children ages 10 and up.
Wonders of the Night Sky
May to October (Wednesdays & Fridays); May to September (Saturdays)
Skip the school planetarium and see the real deal. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks provide a unique opportunity to view the night sky, with some of the clearest views at Wuksachi Lodge. Guides lead groups in flashlight tours that include a chance to view several constellations up close, with or without binoculars. The event is hosted at Wuksachi Lodge on Wednesdays and Fridays, May to October, and at nearby John Muir Lodge on Saturdays, May to September.
Voices from the Past
May 20 to Sept. 6
Sequoia National Park turns 125 in 2015, but the park’s roots go much further back in time; in fact, many of the grandiose trees began their life B.C. Experience the history through the eyes of a character, who will transport you to yesteryear. The event takes place at Wuksachi Lodge, and is open to all park visitors. Afterward, a barbecue meal is offered for an additional fee.
June to October
Everyone wants to spot wildlife, but what do you have to do and exactly where do you have to go to do so? Meet with a park naturalist for tips and tricks to be used on your trip and in the future. In June and August, a Family Birding Walk is also offered — you’re guaranteed to see something then.
June 5 to October 30 (Fridays)
After a day spent exploring, head to the Wuksachi Lodge Campfire Circle to relax with sing-alongs, storytelling and gooey marshmallows beneath the stars.
Family’s First Backpack Trip: Sleeping Among the Gentle Giants
June 25, 26, 27, 28
If you’ve never been camping with your family, give it a try in June, when Kings Canyon National Park will host an event that teaches kids the basics. Note: Kids must be able to walk about a mile (for an hour). It’s $100 per adult and free for kids.
Full Moon: Moro Rock & Panoramic Point
July 1, July 30, Aug. 28, Sept. 26, Oct. 25
The views atop Moro Rock are stunning no matter the time, but this event provides a unique chance to watch the sun set over the Great Western Divide before getting up close with the moon (so close, you can see craters and lunar seas). We recommend this one for families with teens.
Ersa of the Red Trees
In 1921, a group of actors put on a play called “Ersa of the Red Trees.” In August 2015, the show returns to tell the story of Ersa, a young princess who magically morphs into a bird once each month.
Dark Sky Festival
Sept. 11, 12, 13
Back for a second time, this festival offers star viewing parties, guest speakers and interactive activities while a DJ spins space-inspired tunes! The event also includes a 2,000-foot scale model of the solar system.
— Amanda Geronikos