Description - This section includes the major historic sites within California. California's rich history is showcased in its many historic sites and monuments. Spanish mission-era artifacts and gold mining ghost towns are just part of California's fascinating history. The imposing Sierra Nevadas caused California to develop in relative isolation from the rest of the nation. Four flags have flown in earnest over California: Russia, Spain, Mexico, and the United States.
- California's plentiful historic sites represent the many eras in California's rich history. Pre-European settlement history is represented at sites such as Chumash Painted Cave, which houses religious drawings by Chumash Native Americans, as well as likenesses of coastal fishermen that date back to the 1600s. Wassama Round House State Historic Park, in the Sierra foothills, is used by local Native Americans as a ceremonial meeting place.
The Spanish and Mexicans played a significant role in California's history. Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park was the main residence of Rancho Petaluma, the 66,000-acre agricultural empire that General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo one of the most powerful men in the Mexican Province of California from 1834 to 1846. Misión la Purísima Concepción de María Santísima is one of the most completely restored missions of the 21 Spanish missions in the state.
Bodie State Historic Park and Columbia State Historic Park are just two of the sites which preserve California gold-mining era towns. Fort Tejon State Historic Park is the site of a fort established by the U.S. Army in 1854. The post is one of the significant remaining links to the early American occupation period of California.
For more recent history, visit the Will Rogers State Historic Site which preserves the former home and ranch of one of America's most beloved humorists, Will Rogers. Another popular destination is the famous Hearst Castle, where William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan transformed an informal hilltop campsite into a magnificent 115-room main house plus guesthouses, pools, and 8 acres of cultivated gardens.
Recreation - California's historic sites offer a variety of activities. Some of the most popular activities include touring, attending programs, viewing interpretive displays, and attending cultural activities. Many of the historic sites offer additional outdoor recreation activities such as viewing scenery, camping, hiking and picnicking.
Climate - Thanks to California's generally mild climate, many recreation areas are accessible year round. Summer temperatures range from 100+ in the desert and Sacramento and Central Valleys, to a cool and often foggy 50 in San Francisco. The mildest weather statewide occurs in fall. Rain begins in late autumn and continues through winter in most areas. Winter brings heavy snow at higher elevations, particularly in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges. Desert areas remain warm and coastal areas often experience mild temperatures during winter months.
The location of historic sites is available along with driving instructions and a map on each of the wildernet pages describing an individual site.