You’re invited to celebrate some of California’s most treasured places during State Parks Week, June 14–18. The five-day tribute features more than 100 activities that encourage everyone to enjoy California’s 279 state parks and their extraordinary natural and cultural resources.
“It's a celebration of this system that has given so much to Californians,” says Rachel Norton, executive director of California State Parks Foundation. “Our main goal is to get people out to enjoy the parks that are so much a part of the experience of living here and visiting here.”
Most people know state parks for their hiking and camping opportunities, including 5,200 miles of trails and 15,000 campsites in dense redwood forests, cactus-dotted deserts, golden grasslands, and along Pacific shores. But State Parks Week activities reach far beyond climbing peaks and pitching tents.
Jessica Carter of Save the Redwoods League says the week’s main focus is inclusivity. “We want to raise awareness that outdoor resources and experiences are available to everyone, and that there are physical, emotional, and mental benefits to spending time outdoors,” she says. “Each day features activities that are intentionally inclusive, welcoming, and inspiring.”
California State Parks Week Daily Events
Daily events are organized around a single theme. On June 14, the week kicks off with Land Acknowledgement Day. “That first day gives all of us an opportunity to acknowledge and honor indigenous culture, and the indigenous peoples’ care of these lands since time immemorial,” Carter says. Visitors can learn about the ways of the Yokuts at Tule Elk State Natural Reserve, the Chumash at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, and the Kashaya Pomo people at Fort Ross State Historic Park.
On Kids Career Day (June 15), children can find out what it’s like to work as a park interpreter at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve or a lifeguard at San Clemente State Beach. They can meet state park staff and learn about various careers at Cardiff State Beach and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. “There are so many great careers in parks that we would love for more children in California to aspire to,” Norton says.
On Health and Wellness Day (June 16), visitors can join in a beachfront tai chi class at Huntington State Beach, nature journaling at Butano State Park, a kayak tour at Refugio State Beach, a meditative stroll on the Asilomar Coast Trail, or hikes at Palomar Mountain State Park.
For visitors with disabilities, Norton recommends a guided walk on the Three Senses Trail at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. “For people who have a disability in one of their senses, the trail is designed so they can experience the trail with their other senses.”
State Parks Week’s final two days focus on the role of nonprofit organizations and volunteers in caring for state parks. “These days are designed to remind us that these resources belong to all of us, and that we can all play a role in protecting them forever,” Carter says.
On Stewardship Day (June 17), learn how to safely watch wildlife at Hearst San Simeon State Park, help to restore coastal bluff vegetation at Half Moon Bay State Beach, or work to remove invasive plants at Mount Diablo State Park. On Partnership/Volunteer Day (June 18), you can maintain trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park or Topanga State Park, test ocean water samples at Bolsa Chica State Beach, or tend the Heritage Garden at Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park.
Insider tip: California residents with a library card can participate in State Parks Week for free. A partnership between the California State Library System and California State Parks allows free park day-use at more than 200 parks. Library card holders can check out a California State Library Parks Pass from their local library, then head to any participating state park.