It’s not too late to camp on the Fourth of July

What better way to celebrate our independence than by camping?

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than by camping?

Camping in your local state park is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is definitely a popular day for camping, but don’t worry if you don’t have a site booked yet — there are still some parks with camp sites available on Thursday, July 4.

Here is a list of state parks with open campsites currently available.

Just don’t wait too much longer, you must book a campsite is 48 hours in advance, which means by Tuesday, July 2.

If you’d rather try your luck, there are also several parks that reserve campsites for first-come, first-served. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it might pay off big! Be sure to go early Thursday morning if you’d like to camp on the Fourth of July, and have a back-up plan just in case.

Happy Independence Day!


Catch a State Park Documentary

There are some new opportunities to catch two awesome documentaries about California state parks in person or in the comfort of your own camper. Be sure to check them out!

1. Mile … Mile & A Half

See a screening of a new documentary by The Muir Project, Mile … Mile & A Half. The screening is June 15 at the Guild Theater in Sacramento. See a screening of the film, see a musical performance by Opus Orange, and do a Q&A with the film crew. Half of ticket proceeds from the screening with be donated to CSPF, so double bonus! More info on Facebook, and direct ticket sales here.

Beautiful shot from the film Mile ... Mile & A Half

Beautiful shot from the film Mile … Mile & A Half

MMAAH_Press_2About Mile … Mile & A Half

A group of artists leave their daily lives behind to hike the John Muir Trail & bring back their experiences and inspiration. From Yosemite Valley to the highest point in the contiguous US – Mt. Whitney. 219 miles in 25 days.

Along the way, they are joined by musicians, painters, teachers and other adventure-seekers. In the midst of the grandeur and daily grind, they discover what matters most is the opportunity to seek adventure wherever and whenever you can.

What began as an adventure to see – let’s be honest – if they could complete the trail, became the need to capture the experience in order to share the trail with others. Come see how life on the trail shapes the lives of artists and individuals.

2. The First 70

You’ve heard us talk about this film before (because we love it), but now The First 70 is going to be widely available for everyone to enjoy in a new DVD box set and on digital platforms.

The new DVD has lots of cool extras, including behind the scenes, cutting room floor, photo gallery, and a special download from CSPF!

TheFirst70_busimagethe-first-70-3d-box-lrAbout The First 70

When they heard the state of California wanted to close a quarter of its state parks, three young filmmakers set out to visit the 70 parks that were doomed to close.  Along the 3,000 mile trek, they capture both the majesty of the state’s parks and the outrage of local community members, park rangers and environmental activists who are confounded by the State’s financial logic, yet determined to keep these wondrous expanses of beauty open to the public.

The First 70 is a about Californians banding together to enact change and develop solutions in the face of a glaring bureaucratic oversight. Volunteers have been forced to lend even more of their time and effort to support the already grossly underfunded state park system. Independent organizations and nonprofits have become obligated to step up to the challenge of keeping parks open, supporting them financially while working within the state’s guidelines. Due to these citizen-led efforts, the 70 parks were not closed on the July 2012 deadline, however their future is still hazy.

Guest Post: Full-Time RVing, Public Parks and Photography


Levonne is an artist and author of several blogs about her family’s three-year relocation adventure from the U.S. southwest to California during the Great Recession. During that period, they volunteered as park caretakers and campground hosts and lived in some of California’s public parks.

Hearst Castle © Levonne Gaddy

My husband John and I have lived in our thirty-foot Jazz fifth-wheel trailer for three years. If it had not been for beautiful public parks, my sacred camera and my equally sacred laptop computer, I don’t know that I could have made it.

Our original plan when we hit the road three years ago was to find meaningful work and a community that we would love on the Central California coast. We left a comfortable home, jobs and a known community to relocate after fifteen years in the U.S. Southwest. We left in the midst of the 2008 Great Recession.

Having been enthusiastic recreational vehicle campers to Central Coast California for over twenty years, we felt adequately qualified to decide that we wanted to be permanent California residents. Our positive exposure to camp hosts in public parks over the years led us to pursue volunteer camp host jobs as a way to give something back to the communities we loved and to anchor us in our transition.

Camp host duties usually include providing campers with information, doing camp checks to make sure visitors have paid their fees, staffing visitor centers and museums and general cleanup around campgrounds. Most hosts work approximately 20 hours a week and in exchange are provided with a full-hookup campsite during their stay.

Annadel © Levonne Gaddy

When we arrived in California in the fall of 2009, a state budget was being negotiated. A partial remedy for the $26.3 billion state budget deficit was a plan to close 220 state parks.

John and I were quite happy when funds were found to keep the state parks open. We were able to live-on volunteer at several parks including Oceano State Park in the Pismo Beach area, Morro Strand State Beach in Morro Bay and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in Big Sur.

As fulltime RVers and California parks volunteers, I took great pleasure in photographing the beauty of the parks and in writing about our experiences in my blogs at

I am currently engaged in a campaign to raise funds so that I may turn stories and pictures into a book that I will use to raise awareness about California parks. In addition to park closures, there are other very real challenges. Some of those challenges are habitat destruction by overuse; protection of native species at the expense of recreation; and reclaiming industrial brown fields to create new parks in dense urban areas.

In September (2012), current Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that averted closures yet again. AB 1478 placed a two-year moratorium on state park closures. That means that in less than a year and a half, closures will be at issue once more. I am happy to do my part to help save our wonderful public spaces in California.

Pfeiffer Big Sur © Levonne Gaddy

You may go to California State Parks Foundation to learn what you can do to help save our parks.

To learn more about my book project, please see “This Restless Life: a study of Central Coast California parks through photography, interpretive collage and stories” on Kickstarter.

50% (up to $1,000) of the amount raised over Levonne’s funding goal will go to California State Parks Foundation. Be sure to check out Kickstarter!

Volunteers Head to Malibu Creek

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
–Muhammad Ali

Malibu Creek State Park is a popular Santa Monica park that has been the set for many TV shows and movies, including M*A*S*H, Planet of the Apes, Love Me Tender, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Pleasantville.  Although it looks great on the big screen, these days it needs a little extra TLC to maintain it in all its glory.

Malibu Creek State Park
Photo © Brent Durand

Thankfully, we have a throng of awesome volunteers heading to Malibu Creek this Saturday to fix it up. It’s all part of our Annual Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup event.  Normally our Earth Day takes place in April, but this year we had to reschedule due to heavy spring rains.  We are glad the big day has finally arrived!

Volunteers, Edison International employees, park rangers, CSPF staff and Malibu Creek Docents will all work together to restore the lawn by planting several hundred native grasses and plants, remove other non-native plants and conduct general cleanup of the Visitor Center area. This is a great opportunity to do this clean-up because in a few weeks there will be water in the creek. They will also be putting up a temporary fence to protect the plants from the deer while they are getting established.

We are very grateful to Edison International, whose grant has made this day possible. (Volunteer registration is full.)

CSPF Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup 

Statewide, thousands of volunteers each year plant native trees and community gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitats, remove trash and debris from beaches and parklands and make overdue repairs to fences and boardwalks. Since its inception in 1998, CSPF’s Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup program has resulted in — 76,000 participants contributing more than 305,000 volunteer hours worth over $6 million in park maintenance and improvements.  Additionally, the program has awarded more than $1.35 million to state parks throughout California.

Our next Earth Day is scheduled for April 13.  Stayed tuned for opportunities to register as a volunteer at a state park near you!

CSPF Announces Grants to Help Keep State Parks Open

CSPF announced some exciting news today: we will be awarding 13 grants totaling $328,586 to organizations that are fighting to keep state parks off the closure list. The funding will help many of our nonprofit partners across the state keep 15 parks open for one year.  You can read our full press release here.

Although we are happy with the opportunity to help here, we know this is just a short-term solution. It’s really a Band-Aid when what state parks need is surgery.  Even so, the state parks community is working in an exemplary fashion to find ways to keep parks open now.

The organizations that will be using these grant funds to help their park of interest are:

Bale Grist Mill © Brent Duffin

Grantee: Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association for Anderson Marsh State Historic Park

Grantee: Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods for Austin Creek State Recreation Area

Grantee: Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District for Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park and Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

China Camp © Harvey Abernathey

Grantee: Innovations Housing for Castle Crags State Park

Grantee: Marin State Parks Association (for Friends of China Camp) for China Camp State Park

Grantee: Department of Parks and Recreation for Greenwood State Beach and Elk Visitor Center

Grantee: Hendy Woods Community for Hendy Woods State Park

Jack London ©Charles Tu

Grantee: Valley of the Moon Natural History Association for Jack London State Historic Park

Grantee: East Merced Resource Conservation District
for McConnell State Recreation Area and George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area

Grantee: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association (for Friends of Palomar) for Palomar Mountain State Park

Grantee: Sea and Desert Interpretive Association for Salton Sea State Recreation Area

Salton Sea ©Greg Lucker

Grantee: Sonoma Ecology Center  for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Grantee: Ide Adobe Interpretive Association for William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park

In addition to these 13 new grants, CSPF previously awarded two grants to temporarily keep open Santa Susana State Historic Park and Jughandle State Natural Reserve. All of these awards are contingent on the state entering into agreements with these organizations who have developed strong and effective proposals to keep parks open.

Watch the ‘California Forever’ Trailer

“There are very few things in life that are able to span centuries.” This documentary, “California Forever,” shows us why California state parks do.

California Forever is a two-part documentary series about California state parks coming soon to PBS in Fall 2012, presented by KQED, San Francisco. For more information visit

California Forever is produced by Backcountry Pictures – where the story begins at the end of the road.

California State Parks Foundation is proud to support this project.

CSPF Does (Park)ing Day

Sometimes when you have a message to share, a little public demonstration is exactly the right way to share it. And the more fun this demo the better, which is why we are very excited to be participating in the upcoming (Park)ing Day.

(PARK)ing Day is an annual, worldwide event where artists, activists, and citizens independently (but simultaneously) turn metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks and other spaces for people to enjoy. The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created, allocated and protected to improve the quality of urban human habitat.

Picture yourself in a (Park)ing space! Image © iomarch via flickr

We as members of the parks community have a fantastic opportunity to use this day to raise awareness about the impending closure of 70 California state parks. CSPF is planning at least one event in Sacramento, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sept. 16 on the corner of 16th and J. If you are in the area, please come by and sign our oversized park closure petition postcards and enjoy our little PARK(ing) space.

If you aren’t in Sac area, try to join an already planned (PARK)ing space in your community. There are dozens of (PARK)ing Days happening in California on September 16. You can check the (PARK)ing Day world map to locate already planned events.

The Many Voices of California State Parks

© Philip Lee Miller, Garrapata State Park

It’s a difficult and confusing time to be a Californian who loves state parks. As you all surely know by now, the state of California made such severe budget cuts this year that we are now being forced — for the first time in our history — to close some of our state parks. Not just a couple, either. 70 of our 278 parks! And what does that even mean? Are we supposed to just turn our backs on all those beaches, vistas, museums and landmarks?

We at California State Parks Foundation think not. You don’t just walk away from something like this. As advocates and supporters of state parks, we are very concerned about what park closures really mean. Who will protect the natural, cultural and historical resources of all of the parks on the closure list? What about the 150 state parks that are suffering under partial closures, seasonal closures and service reductions?

We can confidently say we are working hard as an organization to find answers. But we can’t do it alone. We know this crisis calls for the mobilization of ALL those Californians who care about state parks. And that is why this blog has come about.

CalPark Voices will serve as a megaphone for all the various voices with something to say about state parks. There are a lot of creative and dedicated people who are doing amazing things worth talking about. This blog will also be a place where we can give a voice to our state parks.

So please check back regularly as we share park stories, recommend advocacy action, report on park closure news, and curate the many voices that have something to say about state parks.

Speaking of, we’d love to hear from you anytime with comments, suggestions and stories of your own! Let those voices be heard.