Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California
Kings is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada and very rugged and remote in most of the length. The Upper Kings is situated in the highest of elevation, granite alpine back country, with abundant small lakes and numerous Wilderness areas.
The tallest peak, Mount Whitney, drains this way – down waterfalls and whitewater, westward to California into the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture and orchards of citrus. The mid section of this mighty Kings River runs close to Hwy 180 inside the Kings Canyon National Park.
The Lower Kings is popular among campers, fishermen, kayakers and rafters, accessible most of the year. Upper Kings River is located inside the National Park boundaries.
NPS Campgrounds near Upper Kings River
Inside Kings Canyon National Park:
Cedar Grove Village @ end of Highway 180
may be closed during winter months.
Sheep Creek Campground (111 sites)
Sentinel Campground (82 sites)
Canyon View Campground (37 sites)
Moraine Campground (120 sites)
Roaring River Falls, Sentinel Dome (9115′ elev)
Roads End Trailhead
backpack camping, from paved parking area.
NPS – wilderness permits required for overnight stays.
Camping near Lower Kings River
Open all year round. Outside the National Park boundary, westward in lower elevations, many more camping options are available.
Lower Kings is best accessed via the paved roads, up behind Pine Flat Lake, California
Trimmer Springs Road #11S12: a paved access route, wraps around the northern shore of Pine Flat Reservoir. Very winding and long, with 25 mph curves; this main route continues east into the massive Kings River Canyon.
Google Maps may have this road crossing the river, toward the end. Proper signage is questionable in the area, since local rednecks love to shoot up signs. Trimmer route quickly peters out to narrow dirt roads, anywhere past the Mill Flat Campground area.
Lower Kings is NOT easily reached via the National Parks, nor Kings Canyon Highway 180. Dirt road travel is required on Road #12S01, which can be steep and rocky at best. The drive-able climb up to the highway may require 4 wheel drive in some sections, depending on weather and land slides.
Winter brings some snow and abundant rains (NOV – APRIL).
LANDSLIDES and ROCK SLIDES are common with ROAD CLOSURES usually posted on the Sierra National Forest, NFS web site.
Wildflowers are abundant in this region for springtime. (MARCH-MAY)
Lower Kings River
Sierra National Forest
Kirch Flat Campground NFS (17 sites)
both above are free camp spots: boondocking, dispersed camps, primitive car camping, tent camping, RV camping, river fishing, kayaking, rafting
Sierra Road #12S01 – primitive camping, few pit toilets; fishing access, some trailhead camps and RV spots along river. The northern most arm of this road is also referred to as Road# 12S001 Garnet Dike, on the NFS web site.
Along paved routes, near bridges, some dispersed camping is also allowed. Campfire permits are required.
Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyon – a side route, graded dirt road worth exploring for primitive camping options. The farther you drive up, the more vegetation you will find. Campfire permits are required.
BlackRock Reservoir Road #11S12, another side route (paved) climbs steeply in elevation, along a cliff edge. This spot offers a small NFS campground near a lake, and is located along the North Fork of the river.
Lower Kings River
- Camp 4 & ½ Cabin (reservations)
- Camp 4 Campground (5 sites)
- Green Cabin Flat (8 sites)
- Mill Flat Campground (5 sites)