Originally Posted by Swinefeld
In 1873 famed naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) called Kings Canyon "a rival to Yosemite". That may be an exaggeration but Kings Canyon and adjoining Sequoia National Park are very spectacular in their own right.
As a seasoned backpacker myself who's hiked throughout the States, I've come to realize that SEKI (Sequoia/Kings Canyon) is actually the more impressive of the two Sierra park systems (Yosemite vs SEKI), especially as one reaches the more Eastern stretches of the Sierras; just past the Great Western Divide pictured in the background of this picture
. While Yosemite Valley (the iconic, but limited, corner of Yosemite NP that most tourists synonymize with the entire park) is truly impressive and unique, it's in the the central Sierra, a stretch of Sierra characterized by comparatively lower elevations and less dramatic geographic relief and, of course, tons of tourists.
The thing about the SEKI portion of the Sierras is few people who aren't backpackers ever get to see the jaw-dropping beauty that's buried deep inside. The best parts of SEKI are also unsurprisingly the most rugged and, for this reason, roads were never built into these parts. Contrast this to the Colorado portion of the Rockies, where thanks to less dramatic geographic relief (Colorado is high but less "deep"), dozens of ski-towns and tons of development were possible, and there is tourist access virtually everywhere. For this reason, I'd say that this part of the Sierras is much more rugged than the Colorado Rockies overall. The High Sierra Trail and the Sierras Northwards up to Ansel Adams offers unspoiled scenic beauty that's only matched by the Wyoming stretch of the Rockies (Wind River/Tetons, Glacier NP) and the Cascades IMHO. While Yellowstone NP was technically the first National Park in the world, The Sierras are what inspired John Muir to conceptualize the setting aside of natural lands for future generations to enjoy. The legacy of national parks and the environmental movement that California continues to lead was born here.
Swinefield's photos are just a little taste of what there is to see beyond the roads. Thanks for sharing this unexpected set of photos