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Kings River (California): Wikis


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Kings River (Wim-mel-che)
Rio de los Santos Reyes
The Middle and South forks of the river converge to form the main Kings River.
Name origin: Derived from Rio Los Santos Reyes (River of the Holy Kings), a name given to the river by Gabriel Moraga
Country United States
State California
Regions Kings Canyon National Park, Kings County, California
 - left South Fork Kings River
 - right Middle Fork Kings River, North Fork Kings River
Source Confluence of Middle and South Forks
 - coordinates 36°50′17″N 118°52′29″W / 36.83806°N 118.87472°W / 36.83806; -118.87472
 - elevation 56 ft (17 m)
 - coordinates 36°03′00″N 119°49′28″W / 36.05°N 119.82444°W / 36.05; -119.82444
Length 125 mi (201 km)

The Kings River is a major river of south-central California. About 125 miles (201 km) long, it drains an area of the high western Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley. The river formerly emptied into the now-dry endorheic basin of Tulare Lake, but because of human use, its water no longer travels all the way to the mouth. It received its name from the commander of a Spanish military expedition that travelled into the Central Valley in 1808.



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 8,000-foot (2,400 m) deep glacial valley. The forks join in the foothills of the Sierra in Fresno County, where the river becomes an attraction for whitewater rafting (class 3 rapids). From that point, the Kings River flows about 125 miles (200 km) to the Tulare Lake bed south of Stratford.

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 Kings River splits six miles (10 km) north of Lemoore into a second set of North and South Forks. These forks join again nearly five miles (8 km) west of Lemoore. Clark's Fork splits off from the second South Fork and flows 5.5 miles (9 km) to rejoin the second North Fork 6 miles (10 km) west-northwest of Lemoore. The river flows through an artificial channel into the normally dry Tulare Lake bed about ten miles (16 km) south of Stratford.[1]


The Kings River was named by Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga on one of the first expeditions by the Spanish to the Central Valley of California in 1806. The Kings River was originally named Rio de los Santos Reyes (River of the Holy Kings) to honor the Biblical Magi.[2] On the valley floor the Kings River is responsible for certain groundwater recharge. There is evidence in the Hanford area that depths to groundwater are increasing, indicating concern for safe yields of this basin.[3]


  1. ^ Durham, David L. (2001). Place-Names of Central California. Clovis, CA: Word Dancer Press. p. 146. ISBN 1884995330.  
  2. ^ Farquhar, Francis P. (1926). Place Names of the High Sierra. San Francisco: Sierra Club. Retrieved 2009-08-21.  
  3. ^ J. Torrey, P. Awosika et al., Environmental Impact Report for the Hanford Mall, Earth Metrics Inc. for the city of Hanford and State of California Clearinghouse, rpt. 10082, March 8, 1990

See also



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