California State Parks Week will celebrate a vital legacy

RSVP today for June 14-18 events

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Miguel Vieira, Flickr Creative Commons
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Miguel Vieira, Flickr Creative Commons

A riddle: Where can you stand in the shadow of a 1,000-year-old redwood, let the cool ocean waters wash around your feet, stand atop a warm desert dune, explore a ghost town, and scale a canyon wall? 

The answer: In California’s state parks. 

The 279 parks that comprise California State Parks are an incredible celebration of the state’s natural and cultural history. In a state that is so closely identified with its natural wonders, California’s state parks are quite possibly our greatest treasures. 

That’s why California State Parks Week, June 14-18, is another great moment in the California State Parks system’s 95-year history. What better way to bring Californians together than around the places and cultures that make up who we are? And now it’s even easier to visit: California public library-card holders can get FREE state parks vehicle day-use passes through their local public libraries.

Working here at Save the Redwoods League for the past 15 years, I didn’t think I could appreciate California State Parks any more than I do today. And like many Californians, these last couple of years have made me see so much value in spending time outdoors in beautiful places. I can’t tell you how thankful I’ve been to give my son a chance to run through a forest, to breathe fresh air, to give his eyes a break after extended Zoom calls. And I know I’m not alone; millions of Californians have turned to their state parks during the pandemic for some much-needed time in nature. 

California State Parks are not only terrific places to enjoy now, but they also play an important role in protecting the state’s most important landscapes for future generations. I want my eight-year old son to enjoy the same access to nature that I’ve enjoyed. We should take seriously the opportunities that we leave for this generation and the ones that will come after it. 

Pfeiffer Falls Trail walkway
The Pfeiffer Falls Trail in California’s Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Photo by Max Whittaker.

We advocated for this celebration because California State Parks are embedded in our history. While some of the first groves that the League protected in the early 20th century became state parks, there wasn’t an official state park system at the time. It wasn’t until 1927 when the League and others were successful in convincing the State Legislature to officially create California State Parks. In the decades since, the partnership between the League and California State Parks has flourished, with the two agencies collaborating to protect and share about 60% of the remaining old-growth redwoods, and introducing millions of people from around the globe to the wonders of these landscapes. 

Of course, the League’s relationship with California State Parks revolves around redwoods, but California State Parks Week goes well beyond these forests. And it’s going to be incredibly fun. Relaxation among the redwoods at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, tai chi on Huntington State Beach, Kids Career Day at Silverwood Lake, a virtual history of the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, and so much more. Explore the event website to find some that you and your family can enjoy. 

California State Parks Week will feature themed days: 

Tuesday, June 14: Land Acknowledgement Da
Wednesday, June 15: Kids’ Career Day
Thursday, June 16: Health and Wellness Day
Friday, June 17: Stewardship Day 
Saturday, June 18: Partnership Day/Volunteer Day   

The League is partnering with California State Parks, the National Park Service, and local community organizations on an event in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on June 18 as part of Partnership Day/Volunteer Day. Called Summer in the Redwoods: A Celebration of Community and Inclusion in California State Parks, the free event will be a day-long celebration of inclusion and representation in parks. Activities include multilingual interpretive programs, land acknowledgement of Indigenous people, a resource fair, food, music, and more!

We’ll be talking much more about California Parks Week between now and June, so stay tuned for more information as new events are added. 

For now, what’s your favorite state park?  

Avatar for Jennifer Benito-Kowalski

About the author

Jennifer joined Save the Redwoods League in 2007 as the Director of Outreach and is now the League's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. A Bay Area native, Jennifer brings several years of journalism, marketing communications and media relations experience in the...

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