California plans to add new state park in park desert area near Modesto

May 25, 2022

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California residents will have a new state park to visit next year, thanks to the addition of a park about 10 miles from Modesto. This marks the first addition to the Golden State’s park roster in more than 10 years.

Public access to Dos Rios State Park would begin sometime in 2023, though an exact date has not yet been set.

The location of the planned park in the San Joaquin Valley region of the Central Valley would fill a hole in an area where parks are lacking, per state park officials.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed the news via Twitter on May 18, after various outlets reported on the state’s intention to acquire 2,500 acres from conservation group River Partners for the site of the new park.

The park’s name, Dos Rios, comes from its location at the intersection point of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers southwest of Modesto.

Since 2012, River Partners group has invested nearly $50 million to rehabilitate the space by planting native trees, brush and grass, according to the Modesto Bee. The local outlet also said the state plans to transform the park within 10 years, starting with the addition of trails and picnic tables then, eventually, campgrounds.

If approved as part of the governor’s budget in July, California will invest $5 million to create the new state park. State Parks Director Armando Quintero said Dos Rios will fulfill a need in a “park-poor region” while addressing inequitable accessibility to state recreation sites, according to the Associated Press.

“Everyone deserves to have close access to vibrant parks and this opportunity is an exciting one,” Quintero told AP earlier this month. “The beauty of a place like this is that many people in the Central Valley don’t get to experience the Central Valley for its really incredible and local natural beauty.”

river near Modesto
Water hyacinth, an invasive species, crowds the banks of Tuolumne River near a restored floodplain and riparian habitat on the Dos Rios Ranch in Modesto, CA. (Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Dos Rios would be located near the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 90 minutes from San Francisco in an area of California known as the Central Valley. The Central Valley encompasses the Sacramento Valley to the north and San Joaquin Valley to the south.

Other nearby parks include Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, which is about a 40-minute drive from Modesto, though it is temporarily closed. Otherwise, locals can drive about two hours to Coe State Park in Morgan Hills or approximately 30 minutes to Caswell Memorial State Park or Hatfield State Recreation Area, both located across the Stanislaus River.

If everything goes according to plan, Dos Rios will become California’s 280th state park, following the 2009 addition of Fort Ord Dunes along the coast in Monterey.

Before visiting, be sure to check with the California Department of Parks and Research regarding reservations and entry fees.

Read more: From Coronado to Alcatraz: Your guide to California’s coastal islands

Featured photo of the site of California’s newest state park in Modesto by Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.

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