From beaches to redwood forests, California is home to some of the most beautiful state parks in the country, and a new one has officially joined the ranks. Dos Rios State Park, a 1,600-acre riverfront sprawl in the San Joaquin Valley, opened to the public today, bringing the state’s total to 281. 

The opening was timed to coincide with California’s third annual State Parks Week, held June 12-16, and is the culmination of a 10-year, $40 million restoration project. It’s the first new addition to the roster in almost a decade.


“The vision for Dos Rios is a journey into the past, revealing a lush Central Valley and a local escape — adjacent to two rivers and a wildlife refuge,” California State Parks Director Armando Quintero said in a statement.

At the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers, the farmland-turned-floodplain provides a habitat for myriad threatened and endangered species, including the riparian brush rabbit, Swainson’s hawk, Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and greater Sandhill crane. 

Courtesy of River Projects

And the boon to wildlife is just one of many benefits the Central Valley park has to offer — visitors can enjoy hiking and bicycling on several trails, birdwatching, and picnicking. Plans are underway for expanding river access for swimming, boating, angling, and other water activities, a process that will involve consultation with area tribes. 


“The benefits don’t just stop at recreation,” California Governor Gavin Newsom emphasized during Dos Rios’ dedication on Earth Day. “This park is a key asset to fighting the climate crisis, home to the state’s largest floodplain restoration project. We’re not just protecting these spaces, we’re restoring them for future generations.”

Quintero is of the same mind. “I think of this literally as a park of the future,” he told Bay Nature Magazine in March, adding: “We used to say ‘man and nature’ and that always made me pull my hair out. Because man is nature, right? This park is going to be telling a fuller story of California.” 

Courtesy of River Projects

About 8 miles west of Modesto, Dos Rios is especially meaningful for its location. 

“It’s a great addition to the state parks system in a part of the state that’s somewhat park-poor,” Rachel Norton, executive director of the California State Parks Foundation, told The New York Times. “If you look at a map of California, you see tons of parks going up the coast. You see tons of parks in the Sierra Nevada and in the desert. There’s a lot along the edges. But in the center of the state, there’s just not a lot.”


Courtesy of California State Parks

This year’s State Parks Week theme is “This Is Where You Live.” On opening day, visitors to Dos Rio can take part in activities like mural painting, yoga, and guided tours. Go here to learn more about the other 200-plus community events California is hosting throughout the state this week.