Natural Features & Ecosystems

a mountainous u-shaped valley with scattered snow and trees
Glaciers helped shape the distinctive landforms of the high alpine country in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

NPS Photo


In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the dynamic landscape evolves from geologic processes working over millennia to sculpt granite, marble, and other forms of rock. Here in the parks, canyons carved by rivers and glaciers tower above rugged peaks and miles of underground caverns. Found throughout the park are thousands of lakes and ponds and miles of rivers and streams; together they form important watersheds in the park. These watersheds are a valuable source of water not only to park resources but also to the inhabitants of California’s Central Valley.

Cave Specialist views a park cave formation.
Caves and Karst Systems

These parks protect more than 200 caves, containing rare minerals, Pleistocene-era fossils, and unique animals.

A sheer cliff face with visible folded layers

Located in the Sierra Nevada, the parks are nestled among sheer cliffs and deep canyons, and include the tallest peak in the contiguous US.

View of a steep rugged mountain with patches of ice and snow that are part of a glacier.

Darwin Glacier, Kings Canyon National Park, 2004. Glaciers across the Sierra Nevada have shrunk an average of 55% in the past century.

Deep blue-green colored river flows past granite boulders.
Rivers, Snow, and Hydrology

Learn about how climate change affects river flow, snowpack, and hydrology.

Large lake with rocky shores and far end appears to disappear into clouds

Park lakes are habitat for aquatic organisms and food sources for some birds, mammals, and snakes.

Last updated: October 4, 2023

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Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


559 565-3341

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