About CalParks

Nonprofit dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California's magnificent state parks.

Summer fun in California state parks

Summer is peak season for California’s 280 incredible state parks, and there is no shortage of fun! We asked our staff to share their favorite photos and ways to spend this sunny seasons in state parks.


Randy Summer

“For the past 20 years, our band — the 5M’s — has played music at Wilder Ranch State Park‘s Old Fashioned Independence Day. It is a great way to spend time with your family enjoying the feel of the 4th of July as if it was 1919. With hand-cranked ice cream, wagon rides, and a cake walk, we look forward to it every year. Even now as our boys are all teenagers.”

– Randy Widera, Director of Philanthropy

Castle Rock State Park Laura

Hiking at Castle Rock State Park is my favorite summer activity. It’s mostly shaded and cool and has rock scrambles and picturesque views. Perfect for a hot summer day!

–Laura Bernstein, Executive Assistant

Emerald Bay 1 Kathleen

Emerald Bay State Park is such a great place to camp with friends in the summertime. By day, you can hike, swim, picnic, and breathe in the fresh alpine air. At night, cook yourself a well-deserved dinner and drink in the starry skies. I bet you’ll even see a shooting star.

– Kathleen McCurdy, Membership Marketing Coordinator

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Camp under the redwoods and swim in the magnificent swimming hole at Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area!

– Rachel Norton, Executive Director

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial SP Ashley

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park has it all! The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which is a must while visiting. There are 5 miles of hiking trails winding through the park’s evergreen forests, including part of the Pacific Crest Trail passing through the park. There is an exceptional visitor center and you are able to rent boats, kayaks, canoes, and more to explore Lake Britton.

– Ashley Tittle, Director of Engagement

Sam summer 2

Picking up oysters and picnicking with friends at Tomales Bay State Park!

– Sam Joseph, Grants Manager

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“When I’m not in forests or on mountains, I’m near the ocean. There’s always something so blissful that comes with seeing the expansiveness of the pacific. It puts problems and solutions into perspective. Seeing the ocean and awesome breeze meet the rocky coast at Mendocino Headlands State Park never lets me down during the summer. Plus, great paddling if you’re into that.”

– Luis Jimenez, Advocacy Coordinator

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“Every summer, our family – husband Mike, son Alex, and daughter Allison – camp at Donner Memorial State Park and fill our days with fishing, kayaking, biking, swimming (mostly the kids, burr!!), cooking, and roasting marshmallows around the camp fire all the while surrounded by the fresh smell of pine trees, chipmunks (all of who’ve been named Carlos) scurrying around the campsite for left overs, and the occasional thunderstorm rolling in to make a brief appearance just enough to soak the kids with excitement in a downpour of rain.

– Holly Martinez, Director of Programs and Advocacy

Millerton Rhody

Grilling out and spending a night under the stars at Millerton Lake State Recreation Area! The lake is the perfect spot to cool off after a long hike through the surrounding hills. Plus, leashed dogs are allowed in the campgrounds!

– Sydney Little, Communications Manager


Which state park is your favorite during the summer season? Share yours by commenting below or posting tagging us on social media at @calparks on Instagram and Twitter and California State Parks Foundation on Facebook.

Ordinary people with extraordinary action

By Joyce Abrams, Core Leader at China Camp State Park

joyce-china-camp-2.jpgBefore I started volunteering at China Camp State Park in 2012, I thought it couldn’t be that hard to run a park. There are trails, trees, and historic structures. I was certain volunteers could keep the park humming with minimal effort.

Then I learned about everything it takes to maintain our park: invasive plant removal, painting, mowing, weed-whacking, culvert clearing, staffing park facilities (visitor center, campground kiosk, café, museum), collecting fees, trail maintenance and repair, purchasing and maintaining equipment, opening and closing the park, fundraising, firewood splitting, event planning, campground logistics, hazardous tree removal, and fire extinguisher service… to name a few.

It was clear we needed an army of volunteers with various skills and interests. California State Parks Foundation helped us recruit that army.

When California State Parks Foundation’s workdays began at China Camp, it was these events that really opened my eyes to the value of a team of volunteers. Whether the team is large or small, what can be accomplished is amazing (always take before and after photos – it will make you smile).

I needed the tools and resources to organize a volunteer event and define the work that needed to get done. That’s why I decided to become a California State Parks Foundation Core Leader.

In the process, I learned to operate loaders, dump trucks, weed-whackers, log splitters, augers and more. I even learned what a McLeod is (a rake hoe, previously known to me as a “thingy”).

These were never on my bucket list as a 100 lb retired nurse, but ya know what, it’s fun. Joyce China Camp 1

Volunteering has also introduced me to people with diverse backgrounds, different interests, and get-it-done attitudes. Being among friends who make me laugh, help me learn, and make China Camp a shining example of a volunteer-powered park is what keeps me going.

There is energy and inspiration to be found in volunteers, and to say that they are the engine of a nonprofit, grassroots organization is an understatement. Repeatedly hearing from visitors that “the park has never looked better” makes me happy and proud.

Who are volunteers? They are ordinary people with extraordinary action.


This June, we’re celebrating the hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from across California who tirelessly donate their time and work to improve the quality, safety and preservation of our state parks with Champion Your Parks Month! Click here to learn how you can join the celebration and thank our amazing volunteers.