In fall, experience the awe and adventure in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks

The giant trees of Sequoia National Park will fill you with awe — and give you a crick in your neck from staring up at them. The wild backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park will bring you over-the-top adventure — and muscle cramps from walking too far with a 35-pound pack on your back.

Shoulder-season visitors (September-November) avoid the hustle and bustle of peak times. Traffic lessens, autumn leaves appear and it becomes easy to find a parking spot. The campgrounds that were always full during the summer now have vacancies.

The weather also cools off, a big plus. Many days top 100 degrees during the summer. Weather like that is brutal if you’re hiking — or even just taking a quarter-mile nature walk with the kids. Skip the sizzling July and August weather and visit in October when average highs are in the 60s.

Sequoia has the largest trees on the planet and Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the Lower 48. Kings Canyon is by some measures considered the deepest canyon in the country. It’s a place that can make visitors feel very small. It also can bring a sense of tranquility to complicated lives.

The adjacent parks, which are administered together, offer beautiful rivers and waterfalls, lush valleys, vast caverns, snow-capped peaks and terrain ranging from 1,300 to 14,500 feet.

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