Celebrate Mother’s Day in CA State Parks

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8. Looking for a unique way to celebrate mom? This year, think more wildflower than bouquet, more Mother Nature than brunch. Here are some outdoor outings perfect for the California mom in your life:


View from Rancho del Oso by David Baron

Wander the Coast

Bring mom on a 1 mile, 1.5 hour guided walk with docent naturalist Ann Garside at Rancho del Oso (the coastal portion of Big Basin in Davenport). The group will walk from coastal scrub through one of the last native stands of Monterey Pine left in the world, enjoying the blooms along the way.

More info

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Empire Mine State Historic Park by Pat Sullivan

Enjoy a Spring Picnic

Pack up a picnic and head to the Empire Gardens at Empire Mine State Historic Park from 11am to 4pm Sunday. You can visit with the costumes characters in many of the buildings, enjoy music and children’s activities. Food vendors will be available from 11 am to 2pm or you can bring in a picnic lunch to enjoy inside the Park. (Picnics are allowed inside the Historic Grounds & Gardens only 4 days a year!)

More info


A hiker in Big Basin Redwoods by TrongQuyen Nguyen

Take a Hike

Get mom out of dodge and go enjoy one of the countless hikes in California state parks. Bring her to your favorite trail, or look for new routes recommended by our partner Weekend Sherpa.

If you’d like something a little more organized, join a two and a half mile, two hour guided hike along Mills Creek at Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park. Enjoy one of our areas hidden treasures as you learn about the lives of the first pioneers and farming families.

More info


Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park photo by David Fulmer 

Serve Breakfast in Tent

If your mom is on the more adventurous side, take her camping! Here are some great Bay Area campsites to choose from. In the morning, you can serve her breakfast in her tent.


Ferry ride to Angel Island

Set Sail

For an extra unique afternoon, treat Mom to a ferry ride to Angel Island, where you can spend the afternoon on a guided hike to Angel Island’s Historic Camp Reynolds, where you’ll be greeted with a pizza lunch at the historic bake house.  After lunch, enjoy mimosas at Battery Ledyard and the best photo ops the Bay Area has to offer of the San Francisco Skyline, San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, hop in an open-air tram for a quick jaunt back to the cafe at Ayala Cove to catch the 3:20 p.m. ferry back to Tiburon.

More info


Jack London State Historic Park by Kate Dollarhyde

Find Zen

Learn about mindful walking meditation during a 4.5 -mile hike in Jack London State Historic Park on Saturday. Hike leader and docent Jeff Falconer will give an overview at 10 a.m. of walking meditation that has been used as a healing tool during a 1.5-mile hike to Jack London’s lake before you embark on a 3-mile hike, 2-hour hike between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Meet at the Ranch parking lot.

More info


D.L. Bliss State Park by Ray Bouknight

Head to the Lake

You know the ocean beaches, but don’t forget about our lakeside beaches, like Calawee Cove Beach along Lake Tahoe.

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Polo at Will Rogers by Nancy Jackson

Catch a Polo Match

Bring a blanket and a picnic brunch to Will Rogers State Historic Park and watch horses pound up and down the field right before you.  Learn a little bit about polo, watch a match and then hike the park or tour Will Rogers old house (he was a huge horse and polo fan). Matches are free and open to the public all summer.  There are matches most Saturdays from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

More info

Where will you go this Mother’s Day?


Volunteers Made Earth Day Count in California State Parks

Our 2015 Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup on Saturday, April 18 was a huge success! Awesome, happy, hardworking volunteers came out to 27 state parks throughout California to lend a helping hand, and their work made a big impact!

Here are just a few of the great volunteers:

Earth Day would not be possible without the generous donations and hardworking volunteers from presenting sponsor PG&E, as well as sponsors Chevron, Oracle and Edison. Thank you sponsors!

Special thanks also goes to our refreshment providers Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Togo’s, Larabar, Subway, and The Fruit Guys. Their generosity fed some very hungry volunteers.

A shout out also to our media partners who helped us get the word out about our event and find those awesome volunteers.

And finally, big props to the park staff who coordinated these projects and gave us all an opportunity to make a direct impact for Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day, indeed.

Guest Post: This is my California


CSPF member Klytia Nelson Dutton reached out to CSPF with this beautiful essay about her experiences growing up among state parks as the daughter of a park ranger, or “a proud park brat,” as she describes it.

This is my California

I was born with crashing waves in my backyard. Sand between my toes and the ocean in my soul. Point Reyes. Half Moon Bay. I was born as the daughter of a California State Park Ranger, and the Parks that make up our great State were my backyards.  I am a proud Park Brat. Looking at California for me, as with many  Californians, is an emotional journey through the heart of a region that embodies the heart and soul of who and why I am. I find it difficult to separate myself and the boundaries of my skin from the soil, trees, and skyline. California is innately ME, though the reflection I see is not necessarily my own.  It is like an anatomy class, where I learn of the function of the arteries – the rivers and canals – moving the sacred liquid to the organs of forest, meadows, valleys, cities, desserts, and sea shores, which, in turn, all perform their function to benefit the quaking body of the whole. Is it vain? Perhaps. But the dirt has been shoved so deeply beneath my nails that it has forgotten when the separation could be made.

This is my California.

I have crawled  with desert tortoise between the blood purple juice of prickly pears and motorcycle tracks. I have seen the snow fall in silent moments onto the cacti of the High Desert. All of this melts into a second…they oxymoron of that which we associate with cold blanketing that which has come to symbolize heat.

This is my California.

I have sucked at the air of the Sierras from childhood forts built from Ponderosa Pines and granite rocks of our backyards. My playmates have been innumerable deer, raccoon, bear, bobcat, coyote, squirrel, lizard, snake, fox, and a mountain lion. I have felt the ecstasy of life from a boulder extending over a lake, as the breeze played with my hair and damsel flies dances across the surface. The mining community of Johnsville, inside Plumas Eureka State Park, reminds me of the dreams of so many before; dreams that can be peeled away like the layers of wallpaper covering the walls of an old abandoned miners house that used to stand near ours. Time has frozen here, and the faces that speak to us stand frozen as reflections of ourselves in the bottom of the glory holes.

This is my California.

The Land of Fire, where the legends are still told, reminding us that the authority of the person who is telling the story shapes what is lift in and what is left out. Families know this, neighborhoods know this, governments know this. Our history is written accordingly. These whispers of stories, oral tradition of our past, aging photos of faces whose lives are summed up in one expression captured in the flash of a bulb.  Their paths brought us to where our steps could begin. They are our first steps. Whether we acknowledge their spirit or not, even a solitary walk is never taken alone. Past waterfalls and moonscapes. Over lakes or fields. Around campfires or on under stars. The faces of those who were and those who will be join our traditions of now.

This is my California.

I passed elementary years as a wood-nymph, running barefoot through the sorrel, hiding in goose pens and staining my hands with the juice of blackberries and huckleberries of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  We swam with lamprey in the Eel River (which is just how it got its name) and my young mind was jarred with the concept of clear cutting as I watched hillsides beyond these boarders literally disappear before my eyes. Conservation. Preservation. Use. I learned to love a land I could throw my arms around, a sky I could spin beneath until I fell down, laughing, in sand, in the fallen leaves of oaks, in redwood duff, or on amber waves of grain. Salmon spawning and making a nest with their tails. Trout rising to a late evening hatch dancing across the water. The company of friends and the silence of our soul.

This is my California.

New tongues. Old tongues. New generations and seventh generation just breaking their teeth on a California that grows in trees and takes root just outside their doors. Peacocks and Ranches. Cotton and Cantaloupe. Missions and mining. Water. A time when there were no homes as far as the eye could see. A rumble as an ear is placed on the dirt to feel the vibration of an earthquake and the rumbling in your soul.

This is my California.

A throbbing, growing, dancing world where ears tune to the multicultural orchestra of life. A multi-faceted and versatile spirit that binds us together beyond the boundaries of skin which keep us apart. Or, it is the face of the many Californians, each with a unique history and story to tell, bound together by a love. A love of the dirt we can‘t get out from between our toes or from under our nails.   The diversity of ethnicity, lifestyle, economics, and relations to the land paint a canopy of beauty materialized, much like a mural, onto the walls of California.

This embodies the relationship between history and fiction, the line between story and teller. This is my story. This is me. And beneath your reflection, your story calls. We, as Californians,  have a beautiful story to share.  It is not a time to sit silent. It is our turn to tell the story of California. The story of us, whether welcomed generations before, or yesterday, is ours to keep.   Where we are engaged. Where we take our first steps. Where we learn. Where we remember family before us. Where we celebrate the friends around us. The system of rivers, streams, highways, and roads that connect us exteriorly perhaps attach us all interiorly, somehow, as well.  We are California.

This is our California.

And it is ours to keep.


Klytia Nelson Dutton

First written for “Writing California” class at Sonoma State University, circa 1997. My sisters and I read a similar version at the retirement of my father, David Nelson, from California State Parks circa 2003.  It was printed in the CSPRA newsletter following. This version has been altered slightly to meet the current situation.