National Park Service
The National Park Service is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior; the NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment. As of 2018, the NPS employs 27,000 employees who oversee 419 units, of which 61 are designated national parks. National parks and national monuments in the United States were individually managed under the auspices of the Department of the Interior; the movement for an independent agency to oversee these federal lands was spearheaded by business magnate and conservationist Stephen Mather, as well as J. Horace McFarland. With the help of journalist Robert Sterling Yard, Mather ran a publicity campaign for the Department of the Interior.
They wrote numerous articles that praised the scenic and historic qualities of the parks and their possibilities for educational and recreational benefits. This campaign resulted in the creation of a National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Mather became the first director of the newly formed NPS. On March 3, 1933, President Herbert Hoover signed the Reorganization Act of 1933; the act would allow the President to reorganize the executive branch of the United States government. It wasn't until that summer when the new President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, made use of this power. Deputy Director Horace M. Albright had suggested to President Roosevelt that the historic sites from the American Civil War should be managed by the National Park Service, rather than the War Department.
President Roosevelt issued two Executive orders to make it happen. These two executive orders not only transferred to the National Park Service all the War Department historic sites, but the national monuments managed by the Department of Agriculture and the parks in and around the capital, run by an independent office. In 1951, Conrad Wirth became director of the National Park Service and went to work on bringing park facilities up to the standards that the public expected; the demand for parks after the end of the World War II had left the parks overburdened with demands that could not be met. In 1952, with the support of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he began Mission 66, a ten-year effort to upgrade and expand park facilities for the 50th anniversary of the Park Service. New parks were added to preserve unique resources and existing park facilities were upgraded and expanded. In 1966, as the Park Service turned 50 years old, emphasis began to turn from just saving great and wonderful scenery and unique natural features to making parks accessible to the public.
Director George Hartzog began the process with the creation of the National Lakeshores and National Recreation Areas. Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service has managed each of the United States' national parks, which have grown in number over the years to 60. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the United States. In 1872, there was no state government to manage it, so the federal government assumed direct control. Yosemite National Park began as a state park. Yosemite was returned to federal ownership. At first, each national park was managed independently, with varying degrees of success. In Yellowstone, the civilian staff was replaced by the U. S. Army in 1886. Due to the irregularities in managing these national treasures, Stephen Mather petitioned the federal government to improve the situation. In response, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane challenged him to lobby for creating a new agency, the National Park Service, to manage all national parks and some national monuments.
Mather was successful with the ratification of the National Park Service Organic Act in 1916. The agency was given authority over other protected areas, many with varying designations as Congress created them; the National Park System includes. The title or designation of a unit need not include the term park; the System as a whole is considered to be a national treasure of the United States, some of the more famous national parks and monuments are sometimes referred to metaphorically as "crown jewels". The system encompasses 84.4 million acres, of which more than 4.3 million acres remain in private ownership. The largest unit is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres, it is over 16 percent of the entire system; the smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre. In addition to administering its units and other properties, the National Park Service provides technical and financial assistance to several "affiliated areas" authorized by Congress.
The largest affiliated area is New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve at 1,164,025 acres. The smallest is Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at less than 0.01 acres. Although all units of the Nat
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in California, as well as the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada—with an elevation of 14,505 feet. It is in Central California, on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, 84.6 miles west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park at 282 ft below sea level. The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County; the summit of Mount Whitney is on the Great Basin Divide. It lies near many of the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada; the peak rises above the Owens Valley, sitting 10,778 feet or just over two miles above the town of Lone Pine 15 miles to the east, in the Owens Valley. It rises more on the west side, lying only about 3,000 feet above the John Muir Trail at Guitar Lake.
The mountain is dome-shaped, with its famously jagged ridges extending to the sides. Mount Whitney has an alpine climate and ecology. Few plants grow near the summit: one example is the sky pilot, a cushion plant that grows low to the ground; the only animals are transient, such as the butterfly Parnassius phoebus and the gray-crowned rosy finch. The mountain is the highest point on the Great Basin Divide. Waterways on the west side of the peak flow into Whitney Creek; the Kern River terminates in the Tulare Basin. During wet years, water overflows from the Tulare Basin into the San Joaquin River which flows to the Pacific Ocean. From the east, water from Mount Whitney flows to Lone Pine Creek, which joins the Owens River, which in turn terminates at Owens Lake, an endorheic lake of the Great Basin; the estimated elevation of the summit of Mount Whitney has changed over the years. The technology of elevation measurement has become more refined and, more the vertical coordinate system has changed.
The peak was said to be at 14,494 ft and this is the elevation stamped on the USGS brass benchmark disk on the summit. An older plaque on the summit reads "elevation 14,496.811 feet" but this was estimated using the older vertical datum from 1929. Since the shape of the Earth has been estimated more accurately. Using a new vertical datum established in 1988 the benchmark is now estimated to be at 14,505 ft; the eastern slope of Whitney is far steeper than its western slope because the entire Sierra Nevada is the result of a fault-block, analogous to a cellar door: the door is hinged on the west and is rising on the east. The rise is caused by a normal fault system that runs along the eastern base of the Sierra, below Mount Whitney. Thus, the granite that forms Mount Whitney is the same as the granite that forms the Alabama Hills, thousands of feet lower down; the raising of Whitney is due to the same geological forces that cause the Basin and Range Province: the crust of much of the intermontane west is being stretched.
The granite that forms Mount Whitney is part of the Sierra Nevada batholith. In Cretaceous time, masses of molten rock that originated from subduction rose underneath what is now Whitney and solidified underground to form large expanses of granite. In the last 2 to 10 million years, the Sierra was pushed up which enabled glacial and river erosion to strip the upper layers of rock to reveal the resistant granite that makes up Mount Whitney today. In July 1864, the members of the California Geological Survey named the peak after Josiah Whitney, the State Geologist of California and benefactor of the survey. During the same expedition, geologist Clarence King attempted to climb Whitney from its west side, but stopped just short. In 1871, King returned to climb what he believed to be Whitney, but having taken a different approach, he summited nearby Mount Langley. Upon learning of his mistake in 1873, King completed his own first ascent of Whitney, but did so a month too late to claim the first recorded ascent.
Just a month earlier, on August 18, 1873, Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, John Lucas, all of nearby Lone Pine, had become the first to reach the highest summit in the contiguous United States; as they climbed the mountain during a fishing trip to nearby Kern Canyon, they called the mountain Fisherman's Peak. In 1881 Samuel Pierpont Langley, founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory remained for some time on the summit, making daily observations on the solar heat. Accompanying Langley in 1881 was another party consisting of Judge William B. Wallace of Visalia, W. A. Wright and Reverend Frederick Wales. Wallace wrote in his memoirs that "The Pi Ute Indians called Mt. Whitney "Too-man-i-goo-yah," which means "the old man." They believe that the Great Spirit who presides over the destiny of their people once had his home in that mountain." The spelling Too-man-i-goo-yah is a transliteration from the indigenous Paiute Mono language. Other variations are Tumanguya. In 1891, the United States Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names decided to recognize the earlier name Mount Whitney.
Despite losing out on their preferred name, residents of Lone Pine financed the first trail to the summit, engineered by Gustave Marsh, completed on July 22, 1904. Just four days the new trail enabled the first recorded death on Whitney. Having hiked the trail, U. S. Bureau of Fisheries employee Byrd Surby was struck and killed by lightning while eating lunch
The Mountaineers (club)
The Mountaineers is an alpine club serving the state of Washington. Founded in 1906, it is organized as an outdoor recreation and conservation 501 nonprofit, is based in Seattle, Washington; the Mountaineers host a wide range of outdoor activities alpine mountain climbing and hikes. The club hosts classes, training courses, social events; the club runs a publishing business, Mountaineers Books, which has several imprints and whose books are sold by major retailers. The famous manual, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, is published by Mountaineers Books; the Mountaineers has 7 branches in Western Washington, 3 mountain lodges, 2 program centers, one in Magnuson Park in Seattle, one in Tacoma. All classes and trips are organized and led by volunteers, includes activities like hiking, scrambling, navigation skills, first aid, sailing and skiing, as well as community activities like film festivals and potlucks; the Mountaineers publishes books and guides on outdoor education and conservation.
There are no restrictions on. A Seattle-based part of the Mazamas, a Portland based group founded in 1894, The Mountaineers formed their own branch shortly after the 1906 Mazamas Mount Baker expedition and dubbed themselves "The Mountaineers" with 110 charter members—nearly half women; the club constitution was adopted in 1907 by a membership of 151. Among these original members were Henry Landes, Edmond S. Meany, the famous photographer Asahel Curtis, Seattle photographer and North Cascades guide Lawrence Denny Lindsley; the activities were local walks with the first trip being a hike through Fort Lawton to the West Point Lighthouse. The first mountain climbing trip was Mount Si. In 1907, 65 members made exploration of the Olympic Mountains; the next year a summit of Mount Baker was organized, followed by Mount Rainier in 1909. In 1915, a club outing became the first sizable group to hike around Mount Rainier and established the route that would become known as the Wonderland Trail; the club organizes thousands of trips per year, has a large library and historical archive, teaches instructional courses, advocates access and environmental causes.
From 1907 to 1995, new climbs in the Cascades were reported in the Mountaineers Annual. Since 2004, the Northwest Mountaineering Journal, hosted by the Mountaineers, has recorded this information. In the first 100 years since the club's founding it expanded to over 10,000 active members and expanded its offerings from a single annual alpine climb to over two dozen different types of activities occurring throughout the year including backpacking, folk dancing, rock climbing, snowshoeing and water sports; the organization provides a forum for members to organize their own trips and find partners for climbs. Many classes are offered beyond climbing skills including nature photography. Navigation, first aid. A thirty-hour wilderness first aid course called Mountaineering Oriented First Aid was produced by the organization; the organization is home to The Mountaineers Players which perform in the organization's Forest Theatre on the Kitsap Peninsula and The Mountaineers Books publishing which publishes outdoor related literature and guidebooks.
In 2008, the Mountaineers moved from Lower Queen Anne to an old naval building in Magnuson Park, now leased from the City of Seattle. The new facility features outdoor climbing walls, including an indoor ice climbing wall; the grounds feature native plants and a rock amphitheater for practicing scrambling and rugged hiking. The Mountaineers operates three rustic lodges in the mountains of Washington State, they are used as base-camps for activities and personal recreation trips. All have hostel-style sleeping accommodations, they can be rented for private functions, such as weddings, Meany Lodge has served as the filming location for a movie. Meany Lodge is ski area located near Stampede Pass with 3 rope tows and nordic, down hill, backcountry terrain. Baker Lodge is located adjacent to the Mt. Baker Ski Area Stevens Lodge is located adjacent to the Stevens Pass Ski Area The Mountaineers Library was founded in 1915; as of 2011 it subscribes to 40 periodicals. It specializes in studies on climbing, environmental studies, biographies of mountaineers, the history of exploratory mountaineering, natural history.
Mountaineers Books, based in Seattle, Washington, is the professional book publishing division of The Mountaineers. Mountaineers Books was informally started in 1955 when a volunteer committee was formed to create a mountaineering training text from the materials that the Club was using for its classes. According to The Mountaineers: A History, the committee was headed by member Harvey Manning, an accomplished climber who would go on to write more than 20 guidebooks during his association with the publishing business he helped found; the editorial committee created Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, which produced its ninth edition in 2017. The first edition of Freedom, as it is called, was published in April 1960; the Club's editorial committee remained a unit and began additional publishing projects focusing on both outdoor recreation—such as hiking and paddling—and on conservation topics—such as the preservation of wild places. Mountaineers Books has produced more than 1,000 titles since its foundation in 1960.
It shares the Club's 501 nonprofi
The Kern River Rio de San Felipe La Porciuncula, is a river in the U. S. state of California 165 miles long. It drains an area of the southern Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Bakersfield. Fed by snowmelt near Mount Whitney, the river passes through scenic canyons in the mountains and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking, it is the only major river in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Kern River emptied into the now dry Buena Vista Lake and Kern Lake via the Kern River Slough, Kern Lake in turn emptied into Buena Vista Lake via the Connecting Slough at the southern end of the Central Valley. Buena Vista Lake, when overflowing, first backed up into Kern Lake and upon rising higher drained into Tulare Lake via Buena Vista Slough and a changing series of sloughs of the Kern River; the lakes were part of a endorheic basin that sometimes overflowed into the San Joaquin River. This basin included the Kaweah and Tule Rivers, as well as southern distributaries of the Kings that all flowed into Tulare Lake.
Since the late 19th century the Kern has been entirely diverted for irrigation, recharging aquifers and the California Aqueduct, although some water empties into Lake Webb and Lake Evans, two small lakes in a portion of the former Buena Vista Lakebed. The lakes were created in 1973 for recreational use; the lakes hold. Crops are grown in the rest of the former lakebed. In wet years the river will reach the Tulare Lake basin through a series of sloughs and flood channels. Despite its remote source, nearly all of the river is publicly accessible; the Kern River is popular for wilderness hiking and whitewater rafting. The Upper Kern River is paralleled by trails to within a half-mile of its source. With the presence of Lake Isabella, the river is perennial down to the lower Tulare Basin, its swift flow at low elevation makes the river below the reservoir an popular location for rafting. The Kern River is the southernmost river in the San Joaquin Valley, it begins in the Sierra Nevada on the eastern side of Tulare County and ends on the west side of Kern County where it is diverted for local water supplies.
The main branch of the river rises from several small lakes west of Mount Whitney in the high Sierra Nevada mountains in northeastern Tulare County, in the northeast corner of Sequoia National Park. It flows south through the mountains, passing through Inyo and Sequoia national forests, the Golden Trout Wilderness; the Little Kern River joins from the northwest at a site called Forks of the Kern. At Kernville the river emerges from its narrow canyon into a widening valley where it is impounded in Lake Isabella, a reservoir formed by Isabella Dam; the area was once known as the former location of the town of Kernville. The South Fork Kern River joins in Lake Isabella. Like the North Fork, the South Fork rises in Tulare County and flows south, through Inyo National Forest. After entering Kern County the South Fork flows into Lake Isabella. Below Isabella Dam the Kern River flows southwest through a spectacular rugged canyon along the south edge of the Greenhorn Mountains, emerging from mountains east of Bakersfield, the largest city on the river.
Despite being dammed upstream, this part of the river has remarkably swift flow in the driest summers. In Bakersfield proper, the river loses most of its remaining flow. In the Kern's lower course downstream from Bakersfield the river is diverted through a series of canals to irrigate the farms of the southern San Joaquin Valley and provide municipal water supplies to the City of Bakersfield and surrounding areas. In this region near Bakersfield the Kern River once spread out into vast wetlands and seasonal lakes; the Friant-Kern Canal, constructed as part of the Central Valley Project, joins the river about 4 mi west of downtown Bakersfield. The Kern River is one of the few rivers in the Central Valley which does not contribute water to the Central Valley Project. However, water from the CVP the Friant-Kern Canal, will be deposited for water storage in the aquifers; the river flowed an additional 20 mi south through a now-dry distributary to Arvin, where it formed the seasonal Kern Lake, which would grow to cover about 8,300 acres during wet periods.
Water from Kern Lake would flow west through Buena Vista Slough into Lake Buena Vista, another seasonal lake that reached sizes of about 4,000 acres. Another channel of the Kern River flowed from the Bakersfield area southwest directly to Buena Vista Lake. In periods of high runoff, Buena Vista Lake overflowed and joined other wetlands and seasonal lakes in a series of sloughs that drained north into the former Tulare Lake, which would sometimes overflow into the San Joaquin River via Fresno Slough, forming one of the longest river systems in California at 535 mi; the river was named by John C. Frémont in honor of Edward M. Kern in 1845 who, as the story goes, nearly drowned in the turbulent waters. Kern was the topographer of Fremont's third expedition through the American West. Before this, the Kern River was known as the "Rio de San Felipe" as named by Spanish missionary explorer Fr. Francisco Garcés when he explored the Bakersfield area on May 1, 1776. On August 2, 1806, Padre Zavidea renamed the river La Porciuncula for the day of the Porciuncula Indulgence.
It was locally known as Po-sun-co-la until its renaming by Fremont. Gold was discovered along the upper river in 1853. T
Lone Pine, California
Lone Pine is a census designated place in Inyo County, United States. Lone Pine is located 16 miles south-southeast of Independence, at an elevation of 3727 feet; the population was 2,035 at the 2010 census, up from 1,655 at the 2000 census. The town is located near the Alabama Hills. From possible choices of urban and frontier, the Census Bureau identifies this area as "frontier"; the local hospital, Southern Inyo Hospital, offers standby emergency services. On March 26, 1872, the large Lone Pine earthquake destroyed most of the town and killed 27 of its 250 to 300 residents; the Paiute people inhabited the Owens Valley area from prehistoric times. These early inhabitants are known to have established trading routes which extended to the Pacific Central Coast, delivering materials originating in the Owens Valley to such tribes as the Chumash. A cabin was built here during the winter of 1861–62. A settlement developed over the following two years; the Lone Pine post office opened in 1870. In 1864, a geological survey team from California discovered Mt. Whitney and named the peak after the team's leader, Josiah Whitney.
One member of the survey team, Clarence King, made two unsuccessful attempts at climbing the mountain. Returning in 1871, he summited what was believed to be Mt. Whitney, but turned out to be Mt. Langley. Two years he returned and summited Mt. Whitney on September 19, 1873, only one month after the actual first ascent was made by three residents of Lone Pine: Charles Begole, J J. Lucas, Albert H. Johnson, they reached the summit at noon on August 18, 1873, starting from Kern Canyon, where they had gone for a fishing trip. John Muir made his first ascent on October 21, 1873, becoming the first person to climb the mountain from the east via the Mountaineers Route. Seeing the demand for an eastern trail to the summit, the residents of Lone Pine raised the necessary funds to finance a pack-train route up the east side, completed on July 22, 1904; the trail was engineered by Lone Pine resident Gustave F. Marsh—much of the trail is still in use today; the lower portion of the trail from Lone Pine to Whitney Portal was named a National Historic Trail by the Smithsonian Institution.
On March 26, 1872, at 2:30 am, Lone Pine experienced a violent earthquake that destroyed most of the town. At the time, the town consisted of 80 buildings made of adobe; as a result of the quake, which formed Diaz Lake, a total of 26 people lost their lives. A mass grave located just north of town commemorates the site of the main fault. One of the few remaining structures predating the earthquake is the 21-inch-thick "Old Adobe Wall" located in the alley behind the Lone Pine Bistro, a coffee house. During the 1870s, Lone Pine was an important supply town for several nearby mining communities, including Kearsarge, Cerro Gordo, Keeler and Darwin; the Cerro Gordo mine high in the Inyo Mountains was one of the most productive silver mines in California. The silver was carried in ore buckets on a strong cable to Keeler, transported four miles northwest to smelter oven at Swanseas. To supply the necessary building materials and fuel for these operations, a sawmill was constructed near Horseshoe Meadows by Colonel Sherman Stevens that produced wood for the smelters and the mines.
The wood was moved by flume to the valley, where it was burned in adobe kilns to make charcoal, transported by steamships across Owens Lake to the smelters at Swansea, about 12 miles south of Lone Pine. Railroads played a major role in the development of the Owens Valley. In 1883, the Carson and Colorado Railway line was constructed from Belleville, across the White Mountains to Benton, down into the Owens Valley where it ended in Keeler; the arrival of the C&C rail line, with its engine "The Slim Princess", the stagecoach in Keeler had a major economic impact on the area. Twice a week, passengers arrived on the evening train, spent the night at the Lake View Hotel, took the stage the following morning to Mojave. A short line to the north connected with the Virginia and Truckee Railroad line at Mound House, Nevada. In 1920, the history of Lone Pine was altered when a movie production company came to the Alabama Hills to make the silent film The Roundup. Other companies soon discovered the scenic location, in the coming decades, over 400 films, 100 television episodes, countless commercials have used Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills as a film location.
Notable films shot here in the 1920s and 1930s include Riders of the Purple Sage with Tom Mix, The Enchanted Hill with Jack Holt, Somewhere in Sonora with Ken Maynard, Blue Steel with John Wayne, Hop-Along Cassidy with William Boyd, The Charge of the Light Brigade with Errol Flynn, Oh, Susanna! with Gene Autry, Rhythm on the Range with Bing Crosby, The Cowboy and the Lady with Gary Cooper, Under Western Stars with Roy Rogers, Gunga Din with Cary Grant. In the coming decades, Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills continued to be used as the setting for Western films, including West of the Pecos with Robert Mitchum, Thunder Mountain with Tim Holt, The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck, The Nevadan with Randolph Scott, Bad Day at Black Rock with Spencer Tracy, Hell Bent for Leather with Audie Murphy, How the West Was Won with James Stewart, Nevada Smith with Steve McQueen, Joe Kidd with Clint Eastwood, Maverick with Mel Gibson, The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp. Through the years, non-Western films used the unique landscape of the area, including Alfred Hitchcock'
The Kaweah River is a river draining the southern Sierra Nevada in Tulare County, California in the United States. Fed by high elevation snowmelt along the Great Western Divide, the Kaweah begins as four forks in Sequoia National Park, where the watershed is noted for its alpine scenery and its dense concentrations of giant sequoias, the largest trees on Earth, it flows in a southwest direction to Lake Kaweah – the only major reservoir on the river – and into the San Joaquin Valley, where it diverges into multiple channels across an alluvial plain around Visalia. With its Middle Fork headwaters starting at 13,000 feet above sea level, the river has a vertical drop of nearly two and a half miles on its short run to the San Joaquin Valley, making it one of the steepest river drainages in the United States. Although the main stem of the Kaweah is only 33.6 miles long, its total length including headwaters and lower branches is nearly 100 miles. The lower course of the river and its many distributaries – including the St. John's River and Mill Creek – form the Kaweah Delta, a productive agricultural region spanning more than 300,000 acres.
Before the diversion of its waters for irrigation, the river flowed into Tulare Lake, the now dry terminal sink of a large endorheic basin in the southern San Joaquin Valley fed by the Kern and Tule Rivers and southern branches of the Kings River. The name "Kaweah" comes from a native Yokutsan word meaning "crow cry"; the Yokuts and Western Mono are the main Native American groups in the Kaweah River basin, explored by the Spanish in the early 1800s and logged after the 1850s by American colonists, before its upper reaches became part of Sequoia National Park in 1890. The Kaweah River originates along the Great Western Divide, a chain of 13,000-foot peaks in the middle of Sequoia National Park; the divide separates the Kaweah drainage from the Kern River drainage to the east. The Middle Fork, sometimes considered part of the main stem, flows southwest from the confluence of Lone Pine Creek and Hamilton Creek, whose lake sources lie at or above 12,000 feet in the Mount Stewart area; the Marble Fork begins in a high plateau area known as the Tableland and drops 1,200 feet over a glacial headwall, forming Tokopah Falls, before flowing west past Lodgepole Village and turning south.
The two forks join at the bottom of a deep gorge directly below Moro Rock to form the main stem of the Kaweah River. The Kaweah River flows in a southwest direction, paralleled by Highway 198 in its narrow canyon. A short distance outside Sequoia National Park it picks up the East Fork, which originates above 9,000 feet elevation in the Mineral King valley, from the left, it continues past the town of Three Rivers, where it receives the North Fork, which begins in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. The South Fork enters from the left before the river empties into Lake Kaweah, the reservoir formed by Terminus Dam in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Terminus Dam, a 255-foot high earthfill dam, has the primary purpose of flood control but supplies water for irrigation and hydroelectricity. Below the dam the Kaweah River passes Lemon Cove, receives Dry Creek from the right and flows into the San Joaquin Valley where it divides into several major distributaries. At the McKay Point Dam, the St. John's River splits off to the northwest, making a wide loop around Visalia before becoming Cross Creek north of Goshen, from where it flows south.
The main channel of the Kaweah River continues to the southwest through farmland, with Outside Creek and Deep Creek splitting to the south before the Kaweah itself divides into Mill Creek and Packwood Creek. Mill Creek continues westward through Visalia, Packwood Creek skirts to the south of the city, terminating in a small flood control basin. Mill Creek ends at a confluence with Cross Creek, which flows southward to the old Tulare Lake bed near Corcoran, joining a channel carrying water from the Tule River; the Kaweah Delta region, as defined by the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, covers about 340,000 acres in Tulare and Kings Counties. The length of the Kaweah River is 33.6 miles between the confluence of the Middle and Marble Forks and the bifurcation of Mill and Packwood Creeks. However, including its tributaries and distributaries, the river is much longer. Mill Creek flows westward for a total distance of 58.7 miles. Including the upstream Middle Fork, long, the length of Cross Creek below Mill Creek, 21.7 miles, some water in the Kaweah system flows 95 miles from the head of the Middle Fork to the Tulare Lake bed.
Most of the Kaweah River's runoff comes from the mountain watershed above Visalia, which covers a total of 658 square miles. Including all the lands drained and crossed by the river's many distributaries down to the Tulare Lake bed, the Kaweah River hydrologic region covers 1,523 square miles; the annual runoff of the Kaweah River between 1975 and 1995 was 443,000 acre feet, or about 600 cubic feet per second. The river's highest flows are during the peak snowmelt months of June. Most of the water is diverted above Visalia for groundwater recharge. With the exception of agricultural wastewater, water flows any further downstream except in wet years. Large storms can