California State Parks in the Central Valley include parks, plant and wildlife reserves, recreation areas, reservoirs and historic parks & homes. Below you'll find a list of popular CA State Parks and ones we personally recommend from the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento to Fort Tejon in the Tejon Pass (Grapevine). Camping in California is a popular activity with most Central Valley campgrounds offering conveniences like flush toilets, running water and firewood.
An entry fee is required at almost all California State Parks. It may be beneficial to purchase a yearly California State Park Pass if planning to make multiple visits to CA State Parks. Several discounts are available including passes for Day Use, Veterans, Handicapped, Surfing, Seniors and more.
The Governor's Mansion is located in downtown Sacramento at H and 16th Streets. This Victorian mansion was constructed in 1877 and has been the home to California Governors since 1903. Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan were among the last to stay at the mansion. Visitors are welcome to tour the Governor's Mansion on docent-led tours. The home is decorated in period furnishings and ornate architecture.
UPDATE: The Governor's Mansion is once again the home of California's current Governor, Jerry Brown. Tours are canceled until the mansion is vacant again.
Governor's Mansion State Park
1526 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Old Sacramento State Park is located at 3rd and J Streets directly off Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento. It features several square blocks of preserved and rebuilt gold mining era buildings. These structures now house touristy shops, museums and restaurants. The State Railroad Museum is on the same property. Visitors can ride in historic buggies, take an historic train ride or join a river boat cruise on the Sacramento River. Activities include picnicking, sightseeing, shopping and biking on the river trail. Accommodations are available on the historic Delta King river boat.
Old Sacramento State Park
3rd and J Streets
Sacramento, California 95814
Leland Stanford Mansion is located off Interstate 5 off the Q Street exit. Situated in downtown Sacramento only one block from the State Capitol, the Stanford Mansion is an historic 1800's Victorian home that today serves as a museum and California's official reception center, where the Governor and Legislature meet with dignitaries from other states and countries. The Stanford Mansion features crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors and rich wood accents. Guided tours are mandatory and include an orientation film about the mansion's history. Stanford was the founder of Stanford University.
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
800 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Sutter's Fort State Park is located in the heart of Sacramento between K & L and 26th & 28th streets. The fort was established in 1839 by Swiss immigrant, John Sutter who called it New Helvetia (New Switzerland). This was Sacramento's first non-Indian settlement and was the main destination for settlers crossing the Sierra Nevada. In 1847, the first few men from the Donner Party reached the fort and aid was sent to save the remaining settlers. Sutter's Fort was overrun by gold miners in 1849 and today has been rebuilt to its former state.
Sutter's Fort State Park
2701 L Street
Sacramento, California 95816
Colusa-Sacramento River State Park is located off Highway 20, 9 miles east of Interstate 5 in Colusa. Campground is situated next to the Sacramento River and some of the best fishing in the state. Activities include boating, fishing, birdwatching, camping and picnicking.
Colusa-Sacramento River State Park
Colusa, California 95932-0207
Brannan Island State Park is located on Highway 160 at the Sacramento River west of interstate 5 and about 50 miles south of Sacramento. This is 336 acres surrounded by the Sacramento River and offers an abundance of camping, picnicking, fishing and boating. Other activities include biking and wildlife viewing.
Brannan Island State Park
Isleton, CA 95641
916-777-6671 or 916-777-7701
Caswell Memorial State Park is located southwest of Ripon from Highway 99, off Austin Road. A portion of the park is home to beaver, muskrat, river otter, mink and 76 species of birds. Activities include fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and picnicking.
Caswell Memorial State Park
28000 South Austin Road
Ripon, California 95366
San Luis Reservoir State Park is located off highway 152 west of interstate 5 in Gustine. Windsurfers prefer this lake for its often windy location in the Pacheco pass. Activities include boating, windsurfing, camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking and picnicking.
San Luis Reservoir State Park
31426 Gonzaga Road
Gustine, California 95322
Turlock Lake State Park is located 25 miles east of Modesto off Highway 132. Turlock Lake is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and surrounded by cattle ranches and orchards. Activities include boating, water-skiing, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and picnicking.
Turlock Lake State Park
22600 Lake Road
La Grange, California 95329
McConnell State Park is located northeast of Livingston from Highway 99, off Livingston Cressey Road. McConnell is situated next to the Merced River with a small lake located at the eastern end of the park. Activities include fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking.
McConnell State Park
8800 Mcconnell Road
Ballico, California 95303
George J. Hatfield State Park is located between Newman off Interstate 5 and Livingston off Highway 99. The park is situated between the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers. Activities include fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking.
George J. Hatfield State Park
4394 North Kelly Road
Hilmar, California 95324
Millerton Lake State Park is located 20 miles northeast of Fresno via highway 41 off Highway 145 in Friant. Activities include boating, windsurfing, camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking and picnicking.
Millerton Lake State Park
Friant, California 93626
Colonel Allensworth State Park is located west of Earlimart and Highway 99, off Higby Drive (Highway 43) south of Sierra Avenue. This historic town was founded, funded and governed by African Americans in 1908.
Colonel Allensworth State Park
Star Route 1, Box 148
Earlimart, California 93219
Fort Tejon State Park is located 70 miles north of Los Angeles, near the top of the Grapevine off Interstate 5 in Lebec. This historic fort was garrisoned by the U.S. Army on August 10, 1854 to control a local Indian reservation. Workers dress in era clothing and perform reenactments of life in the 1800's. Other activities include picnicking and limited camping.
Fort Tejon State Park
Lebec, California 93243