Paying for California State Parks

Wow, have we ever been through it. State readies to close 70 parks in 2012. A bunch of money goes missing (hidden). Many groups step forward to take over day-to-day management of the parks. And the debate about who pays goes on.

I personally have an annual pass. Many versions of the state pass now exists. I got a slightly cheaper version, because I’m not too likely to visit Southern California surf beaches.

In Northern California, where many parks were to be closed (smaller-population-less-use rationale) proposals keep popping up. Along the Sonoma Coast that is under State Parks, pay stations are often proposed. This seems to be a much hated option. However, we didn’t vote to add a tax on everyone to cover the access expenses.

Kortum Trail looking South

Kortum Trail – Sonoma Coast State Park

On Sunday, the Press Democrat ran an article, Who Will Pay? First mentioned is the common problem at Annadel (one of the 70 proposed for closure) where people feel guilty, but park where they don’t have to pay. So we know that any one individual doesn’t want to pay. Evidenced by all the people parked on Montgomery Dr. to use Spring Lake Regional Park for free. According to the Press Democrat article, the State figures 64% of people use State Parks but don’t pay.

Thus who pays? Well actually, we all do with poorly maintained parks run with minimum staff.

Here’s a poll. Let me know what you think.


The Press Democrat also indicates that a commission is in place to discuss the matter. Perhaps they will come up with some good ideas. That and a review/overhaul of the Parks Department will help the parks. Hopefully, they will keep the information they gather to justify their decisions unlike the group that couldn’t find their data for deciding which parks to close.

I recently visited the Jack London State Historic Park – now run by the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association. The place looks great. They seem to know, care and are capable of running a park better than the State. A State that was ready to close the park and haul off Jack London’s stuff to a warehouse in Sacramento.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Jack London Park sleeping room

View from the sleeping porch – London State Historic Park


2 thoughts on “Paying for California State Parks

  1. Visited your site looking for places to take my children on walks in Sonoma County without paying for parking, guess we are walking the neighborhood again. Such a shame here in SoCo.

    • So far State beaches are free. If you walk frequently the regional parks annual pass is an excellent value. Laguna trails are free. Most creek walks are free. Howarth Park and Sonoma Bike are free. No need to only walk the neighborhood.

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