The Kings River has carved one of the deepest canyons in North America, as it flows westward from the crest of the Sierra Nevada, dropping more than 13,000 feet to the upper limit of Pine Flat reservoir. The combination of excellent water quality, undisturbed shorelines, and distant views of hills, cliffs, and high mountains make the scenery of the Kings unique among Sierra Nevada.
The river provides one of California's most popular whitewater boating experiences. The Kings' largely class III whitewater attracts private and commercial boaters alike. But its natural flows, unmodified by upstream dams, can challenge rafters and kayakers with Grand Canyon-style hydraulics not found on other California rivers.
The Kings also offers numerous opportunities for camping, swimming, and angling. Three developed campgrounds and several primitive camp sites provide overnight accommodations. Hikers on the Kings River National Recreation Trail enjoy abundant spring wildflowers and a view of spectacular Garlic Falls. An anglers access trail follows much of the south side of the river.
This rugged river canyon supports a variety of plant communities, including mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands and grasslands, and chaparral. The diverse landscape provides habitat for many animal species, including mule deer, wolverine, bald and golden eagles, and California spotted owl. Fish biologists consider the Kings River to be one of the finest wild trout fisheries in the state. The native fishery attracts anglers from all over California.
Congress added much of the Kings River and its upstream tributaries to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System in 1987. It did not formally designate the lower 12 miles of the river directly upstream of the existing Pine Flat reservoir, leaving the door open for potential future construction of the proposed Rogers Crossing dam. This nearly 600 foot-high dam would drown virtually all of the remaining unprotected segment of the Kings. In response to the recent energy crisis, the Kings River Conservation District (a downstream irrigation district) is reconsidering its Rogers Crossing dam proposal
How To Get There
From the City of Fresno, drive east on Hwy180. Turn left on Trimmer Springs Road. Follow Trimmer Springs Road around Pine Flat reservoir to the Kings River.
Recreation And Visitor Information
For maps and additional recreational information, contact the Forest Service's Kings River Ranger Station at 34849 Maxon Road, Sanger, CA 93611, phone: (209) 855-8321.