Happy Halloween

Oh Halloween … a time for costumes, carved pumpkins, caramel apples and trick-or-treating. And bonus (!), with Halloween failing on a Monday, there’s plenty of time to do Halloween-themed things all weekend. This is particularly good news if you live near these California state parks that will be hosting fun (or spooky) Halloween events. Thanks to the California State Parks blog for putting together this great list of events.

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

The Haunted Fort –Oct. 28 & Oct. 29

Sutter’s Fort, once a portal for weary pioneers, again serves as the gateway to their restless spirits, who return to tell the tales of their lives and melancholy deaths at this special family friendly event. Tours leave every 10 minutes, tickets available online. For more information please call phone 916 445-4422 or visit online.

Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park

The Mansion After Dark – Oct. 29

If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, visit “The Mansion After Dark” at the Governor’s Mansion for a spooky good time.  With scary music to set the mood, visitors will see the mansion in a whole new light at night with dim lighting, darkened rooms and even “coffin corners.”  Guests can wander throughout the mansion with the guidance of costumed characters and storytellers who will captivate visitors with tales of the lives of past governors. In addition, fortune tellers will be on hand to share intriguing predictions for the future with guests who dare. For more information about this event or other activities happening at the Governor’s Mansion SHP, call 916-323-5916 or visit online.

Old Sacramento State Historic Park

Living History Ghost Tours – Oct. 28 & Oct. 29

Presented by the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation, the Living History Ghost Tours take visitors through the streets of Old Sacramento as they hear ghost stories and tales of yore.  Tours are on October 28 and 29 and leave every 30 minutes from the Eagle Theatre.  While you’re there, be sure not to miss a chance for an Old Sacramento Underground tour, where you can see the history of Old Sacramento first hand.   For advance tickets to the ghost tours or more information, call 916-808-4980 or visit online. Old Sacramento SHP is in downtown Sacramento off Interstate 5, J Street exit.

Columbia State Historic Park

3rd Annual Illumination of the Jack O’ Lanterns – Oct. 29

Haven’t carved your pumpkins yet? No problem! Come to Columbia State Historic Park this Saturday for a pumpkin-carving contest and live music.  There will be prizes awarded for the most original, most gruesome, most entertaining, etc. and at dusk the jack-o’-lanterns will be illuminated.  This free event is sponsored by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. Call 209-536-1672 or visit online for more details. Columbia SHP is 3 miles north of Sonora, off Hwy 49.

California State Railroad Museum

“Spookomotive” Train Rides – Oct. 29 & Oct. 30

All aboard! This Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30 come to the California State Railroad Museum for a fun time for the whole family, a ride on the Spookomotive train! This diesel-powered train will be decked out with cobwebs and spiders and a “skeleton crew” staff will entertain passengers.  For more information call 916-445-6645 or visit online.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Harvest Haunt Express Train Rides – Oct. 29 & Oct. 30

On Saturday and Sunday, stop by Railtown 1897 State Historic Park for a haunted train ride on the famous Sierra No. 3 train and on a vintage diesel locomotive. Trains will be festively decorated and manned by a ghoulish staff. Visitors can also enjoy live music, entertainment, caboose tours, velocipede bike rides for kids, free pumpkins for those taking a train ride, and more.  To make advance online reservations to ride behind Sierra No. 3, visit online or call (209) 984-3953 for more information. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is located in Jamestown off Highway 49.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

“WHOOO’S THE WICKEDEST GHOST? A Spooky Trial” – Oct. 28-31

If you’re up for a history lesson, ghost tour and riveting performance all in one, then come to Old Town San Diego on October 28, 29, 30, and 31 at 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm. You’ll be able to see the “Whooo’s the Wickedest Ghost? A Spooky Trial”-an interactive trial where visitors can decide the guilt or innocence of former San Diegans with tragic stories. Be prepared to trek, as the tour is a walking tour and will last about an hour. The tour starts at the Robinson-Rose Visitor & Information Center, 4002 Wallace Street, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-18.  For more information on the event go here and for tickets either go here or call (619) 220-5422 for ticket information. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is located off San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego.

Trick-or-Treat – Oct. 31  

On Monday  bring the kids out to Old Town San Diego where they can enjoy Trick-or-treating from 4–6:30 p.m. Participating shops & museums throughout Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will have goodies and treats for kids to collect. Admission is free.

Día de los Muertos – Nov. 1 & Nov. 2

Historical altars commemorating the people who once lived here in Old Town will be set up in three of the museums. Additionally, some contemporary altars will be set up around the plaza by some of our merchants.

What are your Halloween plans, and, more importantly, what costume will you wear?


  • What do ghosts add to their morning cereal? Booberries.
  • Why was the skeleton frightened to cross the road? Because he had no guts.
  • What is a Mummy’s favorite type of music? Wrap!

Where do CSPF petitions come from?

If you have been a member or supporter of CSPF for some time, you have no doubt had us ask you to sign a petition, send a letter to the governor, or call your legislator. If you responded by doing those things, thank you! But did you ever wonder what was going on behind the scenes of that petition? Well let’s take a closer look, shall we? As our example, we will dissect our most recent petition, the giant postcard “Closing Parks is Bad for California” petitions.

Journey to the Capitol
A Park Petition’s True Life Memoir

Once upon a time (about three months ago), the Closing Parks is Bad for California petition was born in Sacramento as the brainchild of this team:

Kate, Linsey and Traci say: “It’s time for a petition.”

The Sacramento team nurtured the petition idea until it was ready and well-equipped with a plan. It was given a name and a new look, so that when it was done it looked like this:

At this point the petition was ready to be introduced to CSPF’s partners. So the Sacramento team started reaching out to SOS partners across the state, introducing them to the petition, and sending them petition posters of their own. All of these great organizations got involved to help gather signatures for this petition:

Once all the partners were ready with posters, it was time to bring the petition out into the great big world to collect signatures. The petition fared well, and thousands of people signed the posters in state parks, at fairs and festivals, after bike rides, with their families, and even on the hoods of their cars.

The drive-thru signature


Today, after a long journey around CA, the petition is being packaged and shipped by partners back to the CSPF Sacramento team, who is busily collecting the many signatures and posters. We will then deliver all of the signatures to the Capitol during our Nov. 1 march and rally.

The family-friendly signature

So what’s the point of the petition? As an advocacy organization, we at CSPF believe the petition is an important way to keep the state parks issue front and center in the minds of our political leaders. Not only do we want them to know how we feel about state parks, we want them to know HOW MANY of us feel that way. A big stack of petitions at the door of Gov. Brown’s office is a physical representation of the Californians who love state parks, believe they should be priority, and who are willing to put their name on it in.

Keep an eye on our Save Our State Parks campaign for the next opportunity to put your name on a park petition.

Freshly Squeezed Philanthropy

We recently received a letter from a very special member named Kai. This 8-year-old park lover told us about the awesome fundraising project he and his family did this summer. Here’s what his letter said:

“To the California State Parks Foundation-

This summer I had a couple of lemonade stands to raise money for the California State Parks that Jerry Brown is going to close. I donated $100.90 on your website, so the parks can stay open. I go camping with my family and friends a lot, and I love all of the state parks. I hope they stay open forever.


There's always money in the lemonade stand*

How cool is that? Not only is that a very generous donation, but Kai obviously cares a lot about helping state parks. As Kai’s dad told us later:

“Our family had a wonderful time raising money with the lemonade stand, and people were so willing to help when we put a human face and story on what the loss of some of our state parks might mean for future generations of Californians (and the US). We’re big believers that our state parks are treasures and in the idea that going back to Nature now and again helps us to restore balance in our modern lives. To lose access to something that makes California unique would be such a loss for everyone.”

What a great way for a family to do something great together. A big thank you to Kai and his family. Have your friends or family raised money for state parks in a creative way? We’d love to hear about it!

*Enjoy a taste of that Arrested Development reference here.

Be heard! March and Rally to Save State Parks

I got a fever! And the only prescription ... is more park activists!

Have you been vocalizing your disapproval of park closures lately, or has your battle cry been petering out? Don’t worry, we have a cure for that, and it’s not more cowbell … it’s more people!

CSPF and our Save Our State Parks Campaign partners will be hosting a march and rally on Tuesday, November 1 in Sacramento to show our support for state parks. We will protest the closure of 70 state parks and raise awareness of the negative impacts park closures will have on California, and we want you to join us! 

On your marks, get set, march

The march will start at 8 a.m. in front of Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park in downtown Sacramento. We will walk about a half mile to

the Capitol where we will assemble for a short rally protesting park closures. After the rally we will deliver 200 oversized postcards and thousands of petitions to the governor’s office.

We chose November 1 because that is the day a joint legislative hearing is scheduled to be held at the Capitol by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and the Assembly Committee for Accountability and Administrative Review. The hearing will discuss the impacts and status of proposed state park closures. We anticipate there will be some time allocated for public comment, so we encourage all rally participants to join us in attending the hearing at 9 a.m.

The California State Capitol building in Sacra...

Finish Line

It’s going to be a productive day to make our voices heard in Sacramento. We would love for you to join us to send a message to policymakers that the people of California have not given up efforts to Save Our State Parks.

You can register online today. Need more information? Please call our Sacramento office at 916-442-2119 or email advocacy@calparks.org

Documenting the 70

Ever since the announcement of the park closures came out, plenty of people have made it their mission to visit the 70 state parks before they close. Even better, a lot of them are documenting it.

One photographer, 70 parks

One of our favorite aforementioned chroniclers is David Noceti from 70 in 70. He has been posting beautiful photographs from the 70 state parks on his blog. You may recognize one of the Providence Mountain State Recreation Area photos from our most recent cover of Parklands. Great stuff by David.

Also in the works is a documentary by Heath Hen Films. Three young filmmakers have taken to the road in a really cool bus to visit all 70 state parks and shoot footage for a documentary. The film will be called “The First 70,” and we can’t wait to see it! To follow the travels of the Heath Hen Films folks, visit their Facebook page and give them a like.

Thumbs up, Heath Hen Films

There are many more bloggers out there documenting the wonder of these 70 state parks before they won’t be allowed past the gate. Lucy D’Mot is blogging at State Park Closure Trip, Christopher Grant Ward is interviewing people for Folk 4 Parks, and Bay Area Backroads’ Doug McConnell is shooting video for CSPF’s Magnificent 70 website (click videos up top).

Have you been following someone who is documenting park closures, or have you been inspired to chronicle them yourself?

A Successful Week for Parks: Solutions Come Slowly but Surely

This week has brought some really good news for California state parks, and it’s only Thursday! Here’s a little recap, some resource links, and a general prediction of what good news lies ahead.


On Tuesday Gov. Brown signed AB 42. This was a huge accomplishment, and this bill certainly traveled a long and winding road. Some of you may recall visiting your legislators in the capitol to tell them about this bill way back in March. Well thankfully your hard work, and the work of those who signed petitions, sent letters and made phone calls, paid off! Thank you guys for supporting this bill all the way through.

So what does it mean to have this bill in place now? (Maybe you even want to read the bill, which you can do here.) It means we have new options for keeping state parks open. Now, instead of asking, “Can you provide money to keep this park open?” we can ask questions like, “Can your nonprofit run the campsites in this park?” or “Can your nonprofit operate this ENTIRE park?” The pool of resources just got a whole lot bigger, which is exciting.


Earlier today, more good news came through the wire. California State Parks announced in a release that three of the state parks on the closure list are going to remain open thanks to the National Parks Service (NPS). Operations of Tomales Bay, Samuel P. Taylor, Del Norte Redwoods will now be supported by NPS. If you know these parks, you know this is a great partnership because of the close proximity of these state parks to national park land. We are very happy to see NPS continue its long history of working closely with California State Parks and step up once again to take care of these parks that are such an integral part of those areas.

Yay! They saved Tomales Bay! Photo © Patrick Ulrich

Sounds like our Facebook fans are also really happy about the news. They are buzzing about it:

“Yay for California State Parks! I grew up going camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. I’m so pleased to hear that it will stay open.”

“This is wonderful – AND – I hope will be extended to the other parks deemed for closure as well. This has got to be done!”

Join them in the conversation!


After a week like this it seems right to feel optimistic. As they say, things always come in threes, so I think there’s more good news to come. Maybe that’s a little superstitious, but I’m still hoping for a hat trick of good state parks news this week!

And if not tomorrow, we can be sure that soon enough there will be news of nonprofits stepping up to help state parks, thanks to the authority they will now have from AB 42. Onward!

Who do you predict will be the next organization to step up on behalf of a state park they care about?