On a quest to visit all of the California State Parks I realized that there was one right in my backyard of Riverside, CA known as the California Citrus State Park. I had been here a couple of times for weddings and such but never to explore so I grabbed my camera and bulldog and headed over.
This park preserves some of the rapidly vanishing cultural landscape of the citrus industry to tell the story of this industry’s role in the history and development of California. The park recaptures the time when “Citrus was King” in California. In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.” The lush groves of oranges, lemons and grapefruit gave California another legacy – its lingering image as the Golden State – the land of sunshine and opportunity. The design of the park is reminiscent of a 1900s city park, complete with an activity center, interpretive structure, amphitheater, picnic area, and demonstration groves. The land contained within the park still continues to produce high-quality fruits.
The park itself is open from 8-5 Friday to Monday and has a big parking lot that costs $5 to park. Often times this is by the honor system but I encourage you to take this seriously and pay when you visit the park. There is a parking lot by the groves and small amphitheater, and another by the museum. Since the park is relatively small, either area is fine for exploring.
I parked near the amphitheater and walked through the groves, trees and over small hills. There are a few trails to explore but none of them are longer than a half mile. Right in the middle of the park is a small hill that you can climb up for a good view of the entire area. It also has a picnic bench which makes it a great spot for a lunch.
From there we kept winding around the trail until the museum came into sight.
As you approach the museum there is an entire row of fruit trees featuring many of the different types grown in California over the years. It is also lined with some old equipment used to work and gather these groves.
The museum itself resembles an old farm type style that I imagine was popular for these early farmers and the display inside collect the history of the orange throughout the world.
There were two volunteers staffing the inside and both were extremely knowledgeable about the area and the different trees that grew there. I found myself talking to them for a while as I really do love California’s citrus history, then I explored the small museum.
My favorite area was this display of the old citrus ads, I love the design aspect of them.
They also had a small gift shop with lots of trinkets and souvenirs from the park.
After leaving the museum I took the long way back around and found this small lush trail that had a lot of beautiful plants.
I imagine this is a great park to go to during different times of the year as I am sure the seasons help to craft the life in the area and present different views of the plants and trees. I really did enjoy this State Park, and while it is small, it is a great little escape that lets you learn about California’s past. If you are interested in the history then I am sure you will like stopping by. You can get directions and leave me a comment below.