Star Wars in State Parks!

If you’re like us, you’re pretty excited for the premier of the new Star Wars movie. If you’re re-watching some of the old films to prepare, pay special attention to the scene in Endor. Or, even easier, take a look at this clip:


Look familiar? Kind of like some California redwoods you may know?

In fact, those are California redwoods! Parts of Return of the Jedi were filmed in California state parks. The scenery for the Imperial speeders chase above was filmed in our very own Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

Other location scenes were filmed in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Patrick’s Point State Park.

Pretty cool!

Here are some other Star Wars locations you can experience for yourself from our friends over at Weekend Sherpa. 

Enjoy your Star Wars experience in the theater AND in the parks.


Take a Guided Seal Walk at Año Nuevo this Winter

Today is December 15, which means it is the first day of 3+ months of guided Elephant Seal walks at Año Nuevo State Park! If you haven’t experienced the seals at Año Nuevo before, this is the year to do it. It is unforgettable.


Docents go through extensive training and are highly knowledgeable in the natural and cultural history of the park. They may even be able to tell you anecdotes about individual seals.

To protect the seals during the winter months, visitors can only view the seals as part of a guided walk. The park offers naturalist-guided walks between December 15 and March 31 (except for Dec. 25 and Jan. 30 & 31 for the annual Seal Adventure fundraiser which requires separate tickets). These popular three mile walks over rolling sand dunes last two and a half hours and are considered moderately strenuous. They operate daily from early morning to mid-afternoon, rain or shine.


Public seal walks are offered daily for individuals, families, or groups.

  • Starting October 20, tickets go on sale as early as 56 days in advance, and no later than one day before arrival.
  • Price per ticket: $7.00 (Children age three and under are free and do not need a ticket.)
  • Children age 17 and under require one adult chaperone for each 10 children.
  • Each walk has a capacity of 20 people, including chaperones.


To reserve your guided public or school group walk, call 1 (800) 444-4445 or visit ReserveAmerica is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

If all guided walks on Reserve America are sold out, the park does release guided walk tickets on a first come first served basis. It is recommended that you arrive at the park before 12:00pm on weekends and holidays and 2:00pm on weekdays for a chance to purchase these tickets. Although there is no guarantee tickets will be available, the park typically releases 60-120 tickets per day.


You won’t believe how much noise these seals make!


School group walk tickets are offered weekdays for grades 1 through 12 only.

  • Tickets for all school group walks go on sale the first Saturday in October.
  • Price per school group ticket: $21.00 (Each ticket allows entry for up to 20 students plus two required adult chaperones, for a total group size of 22.)
  • School groups without the required number of adult chaperones will not be admitted on the school group walk.
  • Each caller may purchase up to four school group tickets.


Seal walks are available on an accessible boardwalk for visitors needing mobility assistance. These tours take place on Fridays, weekends, and select holidays from mid-December through mid-March. The price is $7.00/ person. Reservations are required. For reservations and info, email, or call (650) 879-2033.



The winter weather can be quite chilly. Be sure to bring warm layers, rain gear, and good walking shoes. Umbrellas, strollers, food and pets are not allowed. 


Find more information about what to bring and what to expect on your walk here.

Enjoy your walk with the seals!

‘Tis the Season for Winter Camping

There are many wonderful choices for where to camp in California state parks, and now is one of the best times of year to do it, especially in Southern California where summer temperatures can be a little high for many campers. With the weather cooling off though, it’s important to learn a few tips in advance so that you stay warm at night when the temperature drops.

Stay Warm

To make sure you aren’t cold at night, invest in a down or DownTek sleeping bag; it keeps you warm and isn’t too heavy to travel with. Also, make sure you have warm, dry clothing to sleep in, as well as a hat and gloves for the chilly mornings. Wearing wool or moisture-wicking fibers will help keep you dry throughout your camping trip, reducing the need to bring too much extra clothing.


Cook Good Food

Cold weather camping recipes lend themselves more to hearty stews and chili than summer foods like hot dogs and hamburgers. For a gourmet meal by the fire, bring along your Dutch oven or plan to cook meals in a foil packet over the fire.

For a quick and easy campfire recipe, do some of the prep work at home: slice vegetables and package them in a plastic bag, and create your spice mix for each meal at home, so you don’t need to bring multiple containers. For chili, mix chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and a few bay leaves together and package it in a small plastic baggie. For a chicken stew spice mix, combine sage, basil, thyme, salt, garlic powder, and parsley.

Check out the chart below for tips on what method to use to cook each type of meal.


For more information on fall camping, read Amy Whitley’s article on