History & Heritage

Irreplaceable cultural landmarks — from Native California Indian grinding rocks to forts and missions to mansions — are preserved for posterity in our state parks.

Native California Indians The Mission System Mexican California
Gold! Land of Many Cultures

Native California Indians

California's original inhabitants continue to create a lasting legacy for those who came later. Priceless art and artifacts are preserved and traditions continue at many California State Parks.

State Indian Museum Sumêg Village at Patrick's Point
Cave Paintings of the Chumash People

Cave Paintings of the Chumash People

At Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, detailed cave paintings, or pictographs, are protected and preserved. The pictographs were created by the Chumash people who are native to the area surrounding the park. Learn more about the pictographs and what they tell us about the Chumash people.

Chumash cave painting
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The Mission System

Franciscan priests from Spain established a chain of 21 church complexes from San Diego to Sonoma, with the goal of spreading their faith while educating and "civilizing" the California Indians. Three missions are connected with California State Parks.

Rebuilding La Purísima Mission El Presidio de Santa Barbara: A Successful Partnership  

El Presidio de Santa Barbara: a Successful Partnership

The historic Presidio in Santa Barbara once served as a central military and government location in Spanish and Mexican California. But by the 20th century the presidio was in danger of disappearing. Learn more about how California State Parks and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation joined forces to save the presidio. more here.

El Presidio
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Mexican California

Tired of colonial Spanish rule, Mexican-born people won their independence in 1821. California was governed by the Mexican Republic from 1824 until 1848; many state parks recreate and interpret this time period.

The Life of Pío Pico The Old Town of San Diego The Battle of San Pasqual 

The Battle of San Pasqual

One of the last military clashes of the Mexican-American war occurred near Escondido in Southern California. A dramatic standoff between Californios and Americans, the Battle of San Pasqual is commemorated at San Pasual Battlefield State Historic Park. Learn more about the battle and the yearly reenactment.

Battleof San Pasqual
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After James Marshall found small pieces of gleaming yellow metal in 1848, news of his discovery spread — attracting gold-seekers internationally, decimating Native American lands and people, and changing the course of California.

James Marshall's Discovery California's First Environmental Law
Hardrock Mining in Grass Valley

Hardrock Mining in Grass Valley

Empire Mine State Historic Park preserves the remnants of California's richest gold mine. An impressive 367 miles of underground mineshafts produced billions of dollars in gold over its long operating history. Learn more about hardrock mining at this historic location.

Hardrock Mining
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Land of Many Cultures

California's native people were joined by newcomers from all over the world. Many state parks celebrate the ethnic flavors of the settlers associated with their areas.

Allensworth's Utopia The Joss House at Weaverville The Russian Colony at Fort Ross
Japanese Renewal at Gilroy Hot Springs The Immigration Station at Angel Island

Japanese Renewal at Gilroy Hot Springs

During World War II, many Japanese-Americans were interned at camps in faraway locations. After their release, some of them sought refuge at the Gilroy Hot Springs Resort, a Japanese-owned hotel and resort complex. This nationally recognized historic site is today the property of California State Parks. Click here to learm more about the hot springs' storied past.

Gilroy Hot Springs
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Wonder & Inspiration

Wonder at our state parks scenes — from dramatic surf to faraway treetops to battling elephant seals to endangered birds to insects scurrying along a grass blade. Click here to learn more about these treasures.

Adventure & Excitement

OHV Road 

Wind down from the plethora of recreational adventures in our state parks with a serene night sleeping under the stars after a campfire program.

Click here for more activities and interpretative programs in California State Parks.

Vision & Dedication


RangerFarsighted groups and partners join committed employees and generous volunteers to move each of our state parks from concept to reality.

Click here to discover the pioneers, founders, volunteers and staff of California State Parks

A Promise to the Future

Kids on beach 

"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."
—Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

Click here to learn more about California State Parks' promises to the future.

 California Forever

The story of California State Parks dramatically comes to life in "California Forever," a powerful and moving two-part television program composed of stunning cinematography and rare archival imagery. Click here to learn more about "California Forever."