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California State Parks Provides Free Memorial Day Admission for Veterans, Active and Reserve Military Personnel

Multiple Sierra Based California State Parks Take Part in Honoring Our Veterans, Active and Reserve Military Personnel

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California State Parks invites veterans, active and reserve military personnel to spend this year’s Memorial Day at one of 142 participating state parks offering free admission.
Begun in 1868, Memorial Day is a day to reflect and remember U.S. Military personnel who gave their lives in service to their country. Providing a free day to the Armed Forces and veterans is a small way of honoring all men and woman for their service and sacrifice.
Free admission will be provided at the California State Railroad Museum located in Sacramento, eight state vehicular recreation areas located in different regions around the state, and destinations such as:

  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Established in 1902, Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park. In the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, its biggest attractions—literally—are its ancient coast redwoods. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 2,500 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and a fascinating natural and cultural history.
  • Grover Hot Springs State Park:  Located on the east side of the Sierra at the edge of the Great Basin Province, characterized by open pine forest, and sagebrush and meadows. The park has a pool complex with a hot pool and a swimming pool hot springs, a campground, picnic area and hiking trails.


  • Calaveras State Park – Calaveras became a State Park in 1931 to preserve the North Grove of giant sequoias. This grove includes the “Discovery Tree”, also known as the “Big Stump”, the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. This area has been a major tourist attraction ever since, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.
    Over the years, other parcels of mixed conifer forests have been added to the park.  This amazing park has a huge variety of habitats and recreational opportunities to explore.
  • Kings Beach State Recreation Area features 979 feet of beautiful frontage property along the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. This day-use only area has a large sandy beach and multiple picnic tables under the shade of Jeffery pines.
    On May 15, 2014 California State Parks officially took over operations and maintenance of Kings Beach State Recreation Area and the boat launch facility. The North Tahoe Public Utilities District (NTPUD) had operated the park since 1978.
  • South Yuba River State Park – This 20-mile portion of the South Yuba River canyon stretches from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to Bridgeport covered bridge. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world (currently closed for restoration), the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail – the first identified wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail in the country.
    South Yuba River State Park offers many scenic vistas. Visitors can view fast water pouring over massive granite ledges in the spring and warm, slow moving emerald swimming holes during the late summer.
  • D.L. Bliss State Park -Campers and day use visitors enjoy swimming or scuba diving in the crystal clear water of Lake Tahoe, picnicking, relaxing on thewarm sand of Lester Beach or Calawee Cove, and hiking the Rubicon Trail, Lighthouse Trail, and Balancing Rock Trail. Lester Beach is a popular location to launch your kayak, paddleboard, or canoe, but keep in mind that trailers are not allowed in the day use parking lots.
    The grandeur of the parks and their setting is a product of successive upheavals of the mountain-building processes that raised the Sierra Nevada. From promontories such as Rubicon Point in D.L. Bliss State Park you can see over one hundred feet into the depths of Lake Tahoe.
  • La Purisima Mission State Historic Park: Considered the most completely restored mission in California, with ten of the original buildings fully restored and furnished, including the church, shops, living quarters, and blacksmith shop. The mission gardens and livestock represent what would have been found at the mission during the 1820’s.  Special living history events are scheduled throughout the year. A visitor center features information, displays and artifacts, and a self-guided tour gives visitors the opportunity to step back in time for a glimpse of a brief, turbulent period in California’s history.
  • Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park: Site of California’s largest “hydraulic” mine. Visitors can see huge cliffs carved by mighty streams of water, results of the gold mining technique of washing away entire mountains to find the precious metal. Legal battles between mine owners and downstream farmers ended this method. The park also contains a 7,847 foot bedrock tunnel that served as a drain. The visitor center offers a short video on hydraulic mining and exhibits on life in the old mining town of North Bloomfield.
  • Pismo State Beach: Offers all kinds of attractions such as hiking, swimming, surf fishing, and digging for the famous Pismo clam. There are tree-lined dunes and the beach is popular with bird watchers. The park has the largest over-wintering colony of monarch butterflies in the U.S.
  • San Clemente State Beach: A California state beach since 1937. It is popular among water sport enthusiasts, and anyone who wishes to escape from inland heat and nearby metropolitan areas for the day. The beautiful mile long beach stretches between the curling ocean surf and the foot of a steep bluff.

For a full list of all participating parks, please click here. Veterans, active duty, and reserve military personnel must show a valid military I.D. or proof of honorable discharge (DD Form 214), in order to receive free admission.
The free admission program was authorized by AB 150 (Olsen), signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in 2013. It allows California State Parks to offer veterans, active duty or reserve military personnel for the United States Armed Forces and the National Guard of any state a reduced or free day use at participating California state parks. This program will be offered again later this year on Veterans Day, November 11.
Responsible for almost one-third of California’s scenic coastline, the California state park system includes 280 parks, beaches, trails, wildlife areas, open spaces, off-highway vehicle areas, and historic sites. It consists of approximately 1.59 million acres, including over 339 miles of coastline, 974 miles of lake, reservoir and river frontage, approximately 15,000 campsites and alternative camping facilities, and 4,456 miles of non-motorized trails.
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About the author

Charlie REC magazine - Charlie Pankey ~ Publisher

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