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Land of Giants: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Scott Toste took this photo of Aster Lake for a photo contest held by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in 2013. (Image credit: Scott Toste)

Giants live in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Soaring mountains, rocky foothills, deep canyons, more than 200 marble caverns and the world's largest trees call these side-by-side parks home.

The highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, Mount Whitney (with a peak at 14,491 feet, or 4,417 meters), stretches across the Sequoia border. The world's largest tree, the General Sherman Tree, soars 275 feet (83.8 m) above Sequoia soil. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, home to five out of the 10 largest trees in the world. Giant Forest is connected to the General Grant Grove of Kings Canyon National Park, home to the 267-foot-tall (81.3 m) General Grant tree, the world's third largest.

The adjacent parks are in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, east of California's San Joaquin Valley. The parksrecently held a photo contest to celebrate their beautiful and diverse landscape. The above photo of Aster Lake by Scott Toste was one of the contest favorites. Aster Lake is a high alpine lake, popular with backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts for its remote setting —a perfect spot to commune with giants.

To see all the contest entries, visit the parks' facebook page.

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Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.