Kings Canyon lodging pick: John Muir Lodge review

Kings Canyon National Park’s John Muir Lodge is located in the heart of the park’s Grant Grove Village. Bustling in summer with campgrounds and tent cabin units, the village is nearly empty in the off-season (any time between September and May). The lodge registration is located at the main complex with convenience store, gift shop, and the Grant Grove Restaurant (more on that soon) but the lodge itself is set back about a five-minute walk from the village center.

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The John Muir Lodge lobby is comfortable and spacious, with a big roaring fireplace, plenty of couches and tables with chairs, and complimentary wifi. Rooms are along the ground floor and second floor, with nice deck and patio space on the end of each hallway.

Rooms:

You won’t find a lot of frills here (though the lodge interior is scheduled for a facelift). Standard rooms like the one I experienced include two queen beds and room for a rollaway (sleeping a total of five). Deluxe rooms include one king bed and a pull-out couch to sleep a total of four. As stated, the rooms need some sprucing up, but are perfectly comfortable and adequate. I appreciated the iPod docking stations, allowing me to keep my USB cords packed for the night, and the wifi in the lobby proved fast and easy to connect to. Tip: I heard that some first floor rooms adjacent to the lobby have a wifi signal that will save you the trip to the lobby to connect.

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Dining:

As mentioned, there is a small convenience store in Grant Grove Village, but this is primarily for the campers in the summer months; guests at John Muir Lodge don’t have fridges or kitchenettes to do much meal preparation. The Grant Grove Restaurant is causal but upscale, and offers nice meals for families. Their breakfast features standards like egg and breakfast meal combos, omelets, and pancakes or French toast, and dinner fare includes a kids’ menu and wonderful local fish and grass-fed beef options. The included bread course at dinner is to die for: the new chef makes his assorted nut and fruit breads from scratch daily, and if you’re not careful, you’ll fill up on them!

Family-friendly package deal: the Junior Ranger Package will be available May 15 through September 1, and includes a one-night stay at Wuksachi or John Muir Lodge and a Junior Ranger vest, tee-shirt, hat, and compass. It encourages checking out the parks’ Junior Ranger programs, which introduce kids to what makes the national parks so special and how to become great environmental stewards. Most programs are free! At the end, each participant will earn a Junior Ranger badge. Rates start at $299 in spring and $365 in summer at Wuksachi and $249 in spring and $339 in summer at John Muir Lodge.

Tip: if you’re looking for a quieter, more upscale lodging experience, we recommend Wuksachi Lodge in adjacent Sequoia National Park.

Directions:

John Muir Lodge is centrally located and within easy driving distance to all points in Kings Canyon or Sequoia national parks. From Fresno, it’s an easy (though windy) drive up Highway 198 to the General’s Highway. Follow signs to Grant Grove Village.

As I disclose whenever applicable, my stay at John Muir Lodge and meals at Grant Grove Restaurant were complimentary, for the purpose of review. All opinions remain my own.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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