Pacheco State Park on land donated by late Los Banos resident celebrates 25 years of preservation

On June 20, 2022 by California State Parks
Pacheco State Park Wildflowers. Photo: CA State Park

Among the historic features of the park are an old-line shack used by Henry Miller’s cattle company in the 1800’s

by California State Parks

Pacheco State Park invites you to learn about the conservationists that help preserve the diversity of the Central Valley community. California State Parks, Fatjo Corporation and the Four Rivers Natural History Association along with community partners have been hosting a variety of events throughout the county from January through June that focus on land preservation, celebrating the areas diverse natural and cultural history and the connections we have to each other and the community.

1st place PSP by Ayliena Abanathie, age 16 and one of two 2nd place winners, Jet-Ski Riding by Hanaigdely Gomez, age 17.
Source: CA State Parks

As part of the celebration, a 25th Anniversary Art Contest was held and the additional winning art can be viewed, here.

Pacheco State Park is 6,890 acres of open space set atop Central California’s Coastal Range. Steeped in the history of early California settlement the park offers scenic vistas, spring wildflower blooms, and an ecosystem for the diverse local wildlife, along with an active wind farm. It is located on Hwy 152 approximately 30 minutes from Los Banos. 

We are excited to have an opportunity to highlight the great work that is being done in the Central Valley to preserve its diverse communities for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Get involved in your local park and meet a wonderful group of nonprofit and nature conservation leaders. Explore what can happen in the next 25 years to preserve and protect places special to us and important to future land use.

Photo by R Souza. Source: CA State Parks

Pacheco State Park is the last remaining portion of the Mexican land grant, El Rancho San Luis Gonzaga. Francisco Pacheco and his son Juan were granted the property and built the first house in Merced County on this land in 1843. The land remained in the Pacheco family through five generations until Paula Fatjo of Los Banos, the great-great granddaughter of Francisco Pacheco, donated the land in 1992, the year she passed at age 72, to be a park for future generations who share her love of animals, horseback riding, history, and unspoiled land. This land has been a horse and a cattle ranch since 1843 and has breath taking views of the Central Valley to the east and the Santa Clara Valley to the west.

The park has beautiful displays of spring wildflowers, scenic vistas, and outstanding trails for horse-back riding, hiking, and mountain biking. The 28 miles of trails offer several loop options to give visitors the choice of a hike or ride of from one to twenty miles or more. During the spring the park’s grassy slopes abound with blossoming wildflowers. The park is home to tule elk, deer, bobcat, coyote, fox, several hawks, golden eagles and many other smaller animals. Cattle continue to graze on the ranch in the winter and spring months.

Among the historic features of the park are an old-line shack used by Henry Miller’s cattle company in the 1800’s, part of the old Butterfield Stage line route, and the remains of the original Pacheco adobe. There is also a wind turbine farm which generates enough clean electrical power for 3,500 homes.

Although the total park area is 6,890 acres only the western 2,600 acres are open for public use at this time.

Location/Directions: Pacheco State Park is located 24 miles west of Los Banos or 20 miles east of Gilroy off Highway 152 on Dinosaur Point Road.

Address: 38787 Dinosaur Point Road, Hollister, CA 95023

Telephone: (209) 826 6283 Fax: (209) 827 3704

Operation Hours: All year. Day use hours are 8:00 a.m. until sunset.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing: The area is semiarid, with daytime temperatures ranging from 80 to 100 degrees in the summer and 45 to 65 degrees in the winter. Evening are quite cool all year due to coastal marine air moving eastward across the Pacheco Pass. Remember to bring a hat, sunscreen, and a lot of drinking water especially in the summer months.

Primitive Horse Camping: There are no facilities for camping except for special events. There is no potable water for human consumption at this time but there is water in the park’s several lakes for horses. Camping is available at nearby San Luis State Recreation Area.

Recommendation: During the mild spring and fall months, visitors are encouraged to roam the hills that have been traversed by Central Valley Yokut Indians, Spanish missionaries and soldiers, Mexican vaqueros, gold seekers and bandits.

Currently there are no guided rides at Pacheco.

Fees: $10 day use fee per vehicle

NOTE: No Dogs allowed on the trails

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Let's keep in touch.

Select list(s):