California is famous for its natural beauty but it also has a rich and diverse history that spans thousands of years. The state was shaped by the experiences, cultures, and interactions of a wide range of people, including California Native American tribes, Spanish colonists, Russian merchants, citizens of the new Mexican republic, Americans who claimed this land after war with Mexico, Chinese railroad workers who connected the east and west coasts, and immigrants from all over the world coming for the gold in the Sierras or for tech jobs in Silicon Valley. California’s state historic parks help to preserve much of this diverse heritage, educate the public, and make the state’s past accessible to Californians of all backgrounds.

California’s state historic parks include:

  • Sites and educational programs that integrate the stories and culture of the state’s Indigenous people, which are made up of over 150 distinct California Native American tribes, who speak at least 64 different languages.
  • Missions, a presidio, and parts of pueblos and rancherias that preserve the heritage of California’s Spanish and Mexican history.
  • Places connected to the California Gold Rush, including the spot where, in 1848, James W. Marshall found shining flecks of gold that changed the course of California's and the nation's history.
  • Parks that preserve and commemorate the contributions of communities of color to California’s history, including the State’s oldest Chinese temple, the Weaverville Joss House, or the free black community that established what is now Colonel Allensworth SHP.
  • The historic mansions of some of California’s most influential families and the buildings erected for the state’s first democratically elected legislatures.
  • A state railroad museum that houses 21 lavishly restored locomotives and train cars that were instrumental in connecting California to the rest of the nation, as well as the park that provided historic trains for many beloved movie productions.
  • Sites connected to California’s rise as an economic powerhouse, from powerful sites like the state’s largest hydraulic gold mine or one of the nation’s first power systems to provide high-voltage alternating current, to intimate sites, such as the spot where the state’s first Navel orange tree was planted.

For everybody who is interested in the human and cultural experiences that shaped our state, California’s state historic parks offer wonderful opportunities to learn and explore.

Come visit California’s historic parks!

Historic Park Sites

(*: Parks Accepting the Historian Passport Day Use Admission Annual Pass)