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


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


“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


“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.

Wildflowers in (super)bloom

Spring came a little early this year and a super bloom is in full effect in a few California state parks! The next few weeks will be prime time to see vibrant blooms across California. We asked some of our supporters to share their favorite state parks to visit during wildflower season!
Pg 7 - Candice Rogers-South Yuba River State Park


“I love South Yuba River State Park because it embodies the incredible natural beauty of our amazing state!”
– Candice Rogers



Pg 7 - Wes Janssen - Anza Borrego

“Having spent some time in many spectacular wild places, my informed favorite California state park is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The geologic diversity, what I call ‘rock drama’ in the dramatic lighting of early and late daylight; the natural history; the fascinating plant and animal life, so much of it easily observed. Chuckwalla, phainopepla, peninsular desert bighorn, kangaroo rat, ocotillo, beaver tail cactus, glowing back-lighted cholla, rabbits, quail, raptors, desert ironwood, a panoply of fascinations. Visit between early December and the first week of April, of course. It’s the desert.”
– Wes Janssen

Pg 7 - Jim McGowan-Pigeon Point


“I love driving down the 1 in the spring and seeing the wildflowers in bloom around Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park. It always makes it feel like summer is right around the corner!”
– Jim McGowan


Pg 7 - Michael Stadnick Saddleback Butte State Park


“We love Saddleback Butte State Park for its convenient location, beautiful desert scenery including gorgeous spring yellow bloom, the Joshua Trees and unbelievable sun rises and sunsets from the top of the Butte, wildlife (including coyotes, lizards, rabbits, snakes), minimal crowds, nice camping area, and love the nearby Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park!”
– Michael Stadnick




“The wildflower blooms in Los Angeles State Historic State Park bring beautiful scenes for park visitors to enjoy! Spring just feels like the parks are alive as birds, insects and other wildlife are out in the park enjoying the blooms alongside you.”
– Melissa Potts


Have you checked out the superbloom this year? Share your photos with us at @calparks on Twitter and Instagram!