The first Earth Day was recognized in 1970 as a way to raise awareness of environmental issues. Today it remains an important day to highlight the urgent need to fight climate change.
Our work focuses, in part, on creating deeper, lifelong relationships with nature. For us, this means connecting people to California State Parks, the largest and most diverse state park system in the world. Spanning 1.6 million acres from redwood groves and desert springs to light houses, coastal beaches and urban spaces, these extraordinary places – each with its own history, cultural landmarks, ecosystems, recreational opportunities and stories – are central to California’s identity.
Join us in making a commitment to celebrate Earth Day, every day, by making meaningful connections with awe-inspiring state parks. Whether you are a seasoned park visitor or a new explorer, here are a few ways to help you experience parks:
Go out and explore a State Park
Thanks to recent rains, April is abundant in wildflowers found along hillsides and trails – and can even be seen from outer space! Days are starting to get longer, giving you more time to visit our amazing state parks. It’s a great time to go out and explore experience these extraordinary places! California State Parks has a list of the best places to view California’s superbloom here, and you can locate your nearest State Park by using this locator tool here.
Planning a visit with younger explorers?
Two apps will help make their experience even more fun and interactive:
A new app called Agents of Discovery is perfect for kids who want to learn more about California State Parks. The augmented reality mobile game helps kids go on virtual missions in select state parks by unlocking geo-located challenges. Download the app from your mobile device’s app store and play for free.
And, last month, California State Parks launched a new digital Passport Program, designed to increase access to and engagement with the state’s 280 parks. No more carrying around paper passports to get stamped at the visitor center. Now California park visitors of all ages can download the official app of California State Parks to track visits to extraordinary state parks and earn badges for each visit (just like with a traditional passport)! The new Passport Program expands on the existing features of the OuterSpatial-designed California State Parks App, which included park closures, directions and wayfinding in one place.
Find volunteer opportunities in California State Parks
As part of a larger #CaliforniansForAll initiative, California Volunteers created the first statewide volunteer hub, VolunteerMatch, to help connect people with climate action projects across the state that need support. Check out both yearlong and Earth Day volunteer activities here. And if your organization is looking for group volunteer activities, you can sign up here.
You can also find volunteer events each month posted by the California State Parks Foundation here.
Become a community scientist – all you need is a camera!
Using just a camera, you can make important contributions to the scientific community! The next time you go for a hike or even a walk around your neighborhood, use a free app called iNaturalist to see the location that you are visiting and what types of plants and wildlife others have observed in the area.
It’s an easy way to get a glimpse of the rich and wonderful biodiversity that we have in this state. And if you spot wildlife or plant communities, capture a photo and submit it to iNaturalist. These observations create useful data for scientists and park managers who are tracking trends and patterns of various species. The app also connects you to a community of scientists and naturalists who will help identify the plant or animal that you’ve spotted. Check out iNaturalist, download the app, and start exploring!
Create art in honor of California’s oldest state park
Following a major fire in 2020, Big Basin Redwoods State Park has begun to re-open with a reimaged vision thanks to a multi-year process and the collective efforts of public and stakeholders. Now California State Parks is inviting 10 artists of different mediums to join state parks staff members on a 2-day, one-night camping experience in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Participants who are chosen for this experience, will create a piece of art that will be displayed at the park through and be entered in California State Parks collections.
Learn more about the Big Basin Art About here. Hurry! The deadline to apply for this unique opportunity is April 28.
Save the date!
Mark your calendars for the second annual California State Parks Week, which will be held June 14-18, 2023. This week-long event celebrates California’s 280 state parks and the people who visit and help protect these iconic places. Presented by California State Parks, Save the Redwoods League, Parks California and the California State Parks Foundation, there will be a new theme each day and a selection of special community events and in-person and virtual programming. Learn more here and be sure to join the celebration!
Support us in ensuring parks are for everyone
We believe that everyone deserves access to a world-class park experience because it helps us grow our understanding and respect for one another and the planet. And, at Parks California, we know we can improve our health and the health of our communities when we have the opportunity to build meaningful and long-lasting connections with nature.
As a nonprofit organization and California State Parks’ official statutory partner, we are dedicated to expanding programs, amenities, and resources so that all people have the opportunity to experience parks.
Help us build a meaningful, lasting change for future generations with a tax-deductible donation here.
Or, perhaps you are part of the growing consumer interest in switching to an electric vehicle. Did you know your unwanted vehicle can support our work in California’s state parks? Learn more about how easy it is to donate a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, or RV with Parks California’s Vehicle Donation Program here, or by heading to our Instagram page and sending a direct message to us with the word “car” to get started!