Things to Do

While here at the California Trail Interpretive Center, please consider the following options:

Explore the Plaza

The plaza in front of the Center has a scale map of the California Trail and its various parts. Walk these trails and look for the names of various significant places along the way. The colored bands in the pavers each represent a distance of 10 miles, which is approximately the average distance a typical family wagon might travel in a day. You'll find a representation of the Great Salt Lake and Ruby Lake sandblasted into the pavement. Look at the bronze statuary and notable quotes. Read the interpretive panels placed throughout the plaza to gain insights on the people that lived in and traveled through these regions. Also, consider taking the General Plaza Tour built in to this mobile app.

Explore the Shoshone Summer Camp

Don't miss the Shoshone Summer Camp! Take the gravel ramp down from the parking lot just before entering the plaza. You'll see sagebrush huts and various representations of daily life of the native peoples. Find out more in the Great Basin Room of the California Trail Interpretive Center.

Explore the Pioneer Camp

Come explore the pioneer camp and imagine life on the trail! You'll see various items which might have been used during an overnight stay and perhaps even find an interpreter in period costume available to answer your questions. Follow the trail from the Shoshone Summer Camp or find the access trail leading out of the plaza next to the Trail Center building.

Explore the Hillside Trails

The hills to the north of the plaza, behind the Trail Center, are also open to exploration. There is an ADA accessible gravel trail leading from the plaza up the hillside. The trail splits into two sections midway (0.14 miles) up the hill. The trail to the right makes a 0.30 mile loop with some interpretive signs, benches, and overlooks across the Humboldt River valley toward the South Fork Canyon exit of the Hastings Cutoff. The trail to the left is a 0.36 mile one-direction trail to the top of the hill overlooking the Humboldt River valley to the west. It also has interpretive signs and benches along the way.

Explore the Museum

Come inside to see dioramas and displays about the California Trail. See the beautiful lobby map, learn about the Jumping Off Towns, the Great Plains, the Great Basin, the 40-mile Desert, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Gold Country destinations in California. You'll track the progress of the first Overland Trail party (Bidwell/Bartleson Party) and learn about the travails of the Donner/Reed Party. There are also restrooms, and a gift shop with lots of interesting books and Trail related articles.

Have a Picnic

While the Trail Center does not provide any vending or food service, we do invite you to enjoy a picnic at the picnic tables provided in the grassy area near the northeast corner of the Center.