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7 National Historic Landmarks in California State Parks
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7 National Historic Landmarks in California State Parks

The Golden State's Parks are full of historic landmarks to marvel at.

Palig Dzadourian

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4 min read

April 11, 2022

National Historic Landmarks are representative of moments in the history of American Culture, they are pieces of history that have had an impact on the country throughout the years. That is why historic places are viewed as exceptionally valuable because they created a certain shift in culture or became a milestone of some kind in the past.

It is important to look back at the events that have shaped our countries to be able to understand and respect the people that have helped our country change and move forward. With a total of 146 national landmarks all over California, 29 of them are found in its state parks, so where to start?

1. A Milestone in American History, the Asilomar State Beach

As waves play on the water, enjoy a relaxing time along the boardwalk.

Designated as a National Landmark in 1987, the Asilomar is one of the historic sites that are definitely worth putting on top of your lists. The Asilomar State Beach is a great example of environmental protection and preservation, but not at the expense of visitors! The beach in Monterey allows visitors all around, and although bonfires and alcohol are prohibited, portable stoves for food preparation have the green light. For all the dog lovers out there, you can even bring your fluffy pet along with you on this dog-friendly California beach! This National Landmark is a perfect combination of learning and having fun.

2. A Blast to the Past inside The Ghost Town of Bodie

Bode teleports you into the past.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to visit an old abandoned town? Let your imagination try to pinpoint what the locals would have done if they were still living there. The town of Bodie is the perfect place to experience the fascinating feeling of being transported to the past; Bodie was a gold-mining town, home to up to 10 000 people in 1879. After many failed attempts at reviving the town, it was abandoned for good and later on designated a National Historic Landmark.

Visitors are allowed to walk down the historical streets of the ghost town, even take a peek through the windows of the old houses. Guided tours are also available, for more information you can visit the bookstore found inside the museum.

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3. The Historical Significance of The Marshall Gold Discovery

Learn about one of the biggest gold rushes in California at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.

One of the most significant historical landmarks in California is the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. The event that gave this landmark its significance is the discovery of gold flakes by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, sparking one of the largest human migrations in history, leading to the growth of the Western world in the coming decades.

It is now a national park where you can visit and enjoy the various activities the park offers, including live events such as the Coloma Gold Rush Live which takes place on a weekend every October. It is a great opportunity to learn about the history of our nation while taking the time to relax and have fun!

4. The Origins of The Donner Memorial State Park

A Pioneer of the monument of the Donner Party unlucky members.

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Donner Memorial State Park has no shortage of activities and things to do both in the winter and summer weather. This historic landmark and its pioneer monument were built to commemorate the tragic fate of the emigrating Donner party. The national park offers educational exhibits that encapsulate the Emigration experiences of the time, illustrate the hardships of the Donner Party during their journey, and many more. The Donner Memorial State Park takes a sad event and makes something positive out of it, making sure we remember every part of our history.

5. The Majestic Castle of Hearst, San Simeon

La Cuesta Encantada is the enchanting work of the extremely talented architects.

The Hearst Castle, also known as La Cuesta Encantada, is renowned for its architectural significance, a splendid work of the very first female licensed architect Julia Morgan in California and William Randolph Hearst. The Castle became a national landmark three years after the death of Hearst, containing the finest artworks on the West Coast.

A visitor center is available at the foot of the castle, which includes an exhibit, a theater, a museum, a gift shop, and food services. Guided tours are also available, all you have to do is board a bus at the foothill of the Hearst Castle that will take you all the way to the entrance of this beautiful structure.

6. The Magical Mendocino Woodlands State Park

A look into what awaits in these wonderful woodlands, magnificent redwood trees towering over the entire landscape.

Originally built as a Recreational Demonstration Area in the 1930s on the site of an abandoned logging town of Boyles, the Mendocino Woodlands is the first of its kind to receive the title of National historical landmark within the California State Park system. The rustic style of the campgrounds and cabins located on the site holds great architectural value; the woodlands surrounding the campgrounds create quite an enchanting atmosphere, a blueprint for fun! The grounds can house up to 250 people, with dining and recreational halls available for all the campers.

The Mendocino Woodlands State Park is known for the Lark Music Camp which takes place every August featuring all kinds of music and dances from various cultures. If you like camping and are looking for a site to create unforgettable memories, the Mendocino Woodlands State Park is a great candidate.

7- The Impressive Watts Towers of Simon Rodia

Simon Rodia’s work of art that caught the eyes of many, an important piece of folk art culture.

When you are dedicated to your work and spend an excessive amount of time perfecting it, it is sure to catch the attention of many. Simon Rodia, an Italian immigrant and a self-taught artist, spent over 33 years working on what is now known as the Watts Towers, a national historic landmark, one of California’s mysterious attractions, and an important piece in the history of folk art. The Towers are made from all sorts of materials, a structural steel core wrapped in wire mesh, inlaid with glass, shell, and more. The tallest of the Towers is a whopping ninety-nine and a half feet tall.

The Towers act as representatives of freedom, initiative, and creativity for the local African-American and Latino communities.

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