By the mid-1930s, Will Rogers was one of the most popular and highest paid actors in Hollywood and "America's most beloved citizen." From his start in vaudeville theater with a trick roping act, he rose to world-wide fame as a columnist, "cowboy philosopher", aviation enthusiast, philanthropist, radio personality, and movie star. During the 1920s, he bought land in Santa Monica, where he developed a ranch. Eventually, Will Rogers owned about 359 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in what is now known as the Pacific Palisades.
The ranch became the place where Will Rogers could relax with his family and friends, pursuing his favorite pastimes of riding and roping. At his untimely death in a plane crash in 1935, Will Rogers's ranch consisted of a 31-room ranch house with neighboring guest housing, a stable, corrals, riding ring, roping arena, polo field, golf course, and riding trails. His widow, Betty, donated the ranch to California State Parks in 1944 and it became a state historic park.
COMMON ACTIVITIES AT WILL’S PARK
Ranch House Tours
On Thursdays and Fridays, we offer public tours of Will’s ranch house every hour on the hour from 11a.m. to 3p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays every hour on the hour from 10a.m. to 4p.m. Tours meet in front of the Ranch house. Will’s ranch house is accessible only through guided tours. There is no charge for the ranch house tour. No preregistration is needed to take one of the tours. They are offered on a first come, first served basis and can accommodate up to 20 people per tour.
Hikers can enjoy a moderate 2-mile loop to and from Inspiration Point. The Rivas Canyon Trail also provides a moderate 2.1 mile hike to Temescal Gateway Park. Adventurous hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians can tackle the Backbone Trail National Trail into the Santa Monica Mountains, which can take you 70 miles all the way to Point Mugu. Free trail maps of Will Rogers SHP trails are at the stand near the visitor’s center and in the park office.
Horse Riding Lessons & Trail Rides
Westside Riding School is open for riding lessons at the park everyday except Mondays. Horseback riding lessons are open to both children and adults. To schedule lessons, please visit our Horseback Riding Lessons Information Page .
Will Rogers Trail Rides provides guided trail rides on safe, reliable horses on the beautiful trails of Will Rogers State Historic Park. You will experience the park in the way Will Rogers loved to experience it, on horseback. Will Rogers guided trail rides are available Tuesday through Friday. You can book a private guided ride by visiting http://www.willrogerstrailrides.com.
Equestrian visitors are welcome to bring their horses to the park for day-use to enjoy the riding and roping arena, Sarah's Point, and the trail to Inspiration Point.
The picnic area above the polo field provides picnic tables and barbecue grills and is available on a first come, first served basis. Some modest picnicking (no chairs, tables, catering, jumpers, etc.) is also permitted on the front lawn of the ranch house. If you would like to set aside a section of the picnic area or upper ranch house lawn to ensure its availability for your group’s use, or if your group numbers 25+ people, you need the picnic reservation form. Call (310) 230-2023 or email WRSHP.Events@parks.ca.gov.
Polo games are held every weekend, except Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day, from May to mid-October. The Polo field at Will Rogers SHP is just one of the park’s many wonderful features. The grass covered expanse is 20 yards shorter and a few yards narrower than a regulation polo field and is carefully maintained by park staff. It is the last grass, public, outdoor polo field in Los Angeles County. The Will Rogers Polo Club carries on Will’s enjoyment of polo by using the field for their matches during their annual Polo Season. Matches are free to the public to watch (you still need to pay the vehicle parking fee) and played on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays form 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit their website at http://willrogerspolo.org .
The visitor’s center is located in the garage of the guest cottage next to the ranch house. Displays showcase Will Roger’s story and the development of his sprawling California ranch. A brief, 10- minute video depicts the life and times of Will Rogers and includes excerpts of his speeches and slow motion footage of his unmatched roping skills from the 1922 silent film Ropin’ Fool.
Movies In The Park
Hollywood comes back to the home of one of its earliest movie stars. The evening kicks off with free tours of Will Roger's Ranch Home, a preshow band and gourmet food trucks. Bring your family and friends, a favorite lawn chair or blanket, maybe dress as your favorite movie character and enjoy the movie outdoors on Will’s front lawn. For more info visit: www.streetfoodcinema.com .
Additional Visitor Services
- Westside Riding School Dorte Lindegaard (Horseback riding lessons)
PICNIC RESERVATIONS, SPECIAL EVENTS, AND FILMING
If you would like to set aside a group of picnic tables or a portion of the park for your picnic, you may file a picnic reservation form. Picnic groups larger than 25 persons require a picnic reservation as well. If you would like or need to make a picnic reservation, please contact the Picnic Reservations at (310) 230-2023.
A special event permit is required whenever an onsite caterer, vendor, paid staff member of any variety is used, or when the group event. The special event application is available upon request. Special events must be scheduled six weeks in advance and require superintendent approval. If you would like to hold an event at the park, please contact the Special Events & Picnic Reservations Coordinator at (310) 230-2023 or e-mail WRSHP.Events@parks.ca.gov .
All varieties of commercial filming, student filming, or photography beyond point and shoot require a permit. Film permits are issued through the State Park Film Office at 818-880-0358.
WILL ROGERS & DOGS
Dogs are permitted at Will Rogers State Historic Park. Dogs must be on a leash of no more than six feet in length and under the direct control of their owner at all times while in the park. Owners will be asked to remove their dog from the park if they are unable to control it. Dogs are not allowed on the Backbone trail or in the adjoining Topanga State Park, but are allowed on the Rivas Canyon Trail leading to and from Temescal Gateway Park.
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