California State Park closures

California State Parks logoOf the 70 California State Parks that will be closing due to the budget crunch, I was surprised to discover that I’ve been to 10 of them. Annadel State Park in particular, an enormous and beautiful park east of Santa Rosa, was a site I visited regularly for hiking and mountain biking when I first moved to California.

But the closure that hits closest to home is Jack London State Historic Park. I only went there once, but it happens to be the location of the first hike I took with Stephanie, two weeks after we met at a Halloween party in 2005. Stephanie says “that one hike opened the door to all of our future hikes together.”

Here’s a look back:

Annadel State Park
Castle Rock State Park
Searching for Goat Rock
China Camp State Park
China Camp State Park
Garrapata State Park
Driving down the Big Sur coast
Jack London State Historic Park
Jack London State Historic Park
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
The tufas of Mono Lake
Olompali State Historic Park
Olompali State Historic Park
Portola Redwoods State Park
Camping at Portola Redwoods
Russian Gulch State Park
Thanksgiving at MacKerricher State Park
Tomales Bay State Park
A little kayaking, a little barbecued oysters

Stephanie reminds me that it’s one thing to boo-hoo the closed parks, but it’s also important to remember that I’ve visited many of the wonderful California State Parks that will remain open. I’m guessing not many people (myself included) realize that:

California, which created its state park system in 1864, has more parks than any other state. They cover 1.5 million acres, including 280 miles of coastline and 625 miles of lake and riverfront. Only Alaska has more land, 3.2 million acres, devoted to state parks.

Here’s a look back at the California State Parks I’ve been to (and blogged about) that are NOT closing:

Angel Island State Park
Angel Island
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
Butano State Park
hiking with christy and marcus
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Mt. Tamalpais State Park and the Golden Gate Bridge
The view from Hoo Koo ee Koo
Mt. Tam’s Panoramic Coastal Trail
Above the fog
MacKerricher State Park
Thanksgiving at MacKerricher State Park
Morro Bay State Park
We did not tour Hearst Castle
Mount Diablo State Park
To the top of Mount Diablo
Sunset from Mount Diablo
Point Lobos State Reserve
Point Lobos State Reserve
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Adventure Weekending Continues
The indomitable Mt. St. Helena
Conquering Mt. St. Helena
Salt Point State Park
With Dad at Salt Point State Park
Mushroom foraging at Salt Point
San Bruno Mountain State Park
Foggy San Bruno Mountain State Park
San Bruno Mountain on a clear day
Sonoma Coast State Park
Katie at Goat Rock
Bodega Head
Camping on the beach



I wonder how California ranks compared to its population. It’s most disturbing to me that this only saves 20 or 30 million dollars, out of billions in budget deficit. These parks are one of the few things that makes it bearable to have a family here because most things are so expensive. I am happy that the a lot of the parks we use are under EBRPD.

I thought the same thing: “that this only saves 20 or 30 million dollars, out of billions in the budget deficit”. On the other hand, there’s no rule that says, “once a park, always a park”. Though I willl admit that closing Annadel in Santa Rosa was shocking. But it’s not like they will only be cutting from parks.

I’m somewhat calmed by the assertion in the article that “the sites that will remain open account for about 92 percent of state park visitors and about 94 percent of revenue that parks generate.” It seems like this might have simply been a politically convenient opportunity to shed some “non-performing parks”.


As a European, i have always been confused by the way land is managed in the United States. I cannot tell whether it is a better or a worse system, but it is different and unfamiliar for someone who is used to the European system. The whole concept of “closing” a land is unknown here. Apart from some areas used for the military, the whole land is always accessible for the general public and may be used for recreational purposes, whether it is owned by a public or a private entity. You are just not allowed to close a land.

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