The Kings River is a major river of California, USA. It arises in the Sierra Nevada, consisting of three forks. The Middle and South Forks start in Kings Canyon National Park, while the North Fork starts in the John Muir Wilderness. The South Fork flows in Kings Canyon: a spectacular 8000' deep glacial valley. The forks join in the foothills of the Sierra, where the river becomes an attraction for whitewater rafting.
In the foothills, the water from the river is impounded at Pine Flat Dam. In the Central Valley, the river flows south of Fresno, California, where its water is diverted for agriculture. The river channel feeds into the Tulare Lake basin, which is currently dry.
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 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.