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Pacheco State Park celebrates Wildflower Day
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Blooming wildflowers can be see all over Pacheco State Park and are the focus of the upcoming Wildflower Day celebration on April 1. - photo by Photo Contributed

Pacheco State Park invites all those looking to welcome the colors of spring to come celebrate the 14th Annual Wildflower Day.

Visitors can explore the wildflowers in bloom at Pacheco State Park from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 1. Local volunteers from the California Native Plant Society, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks will be on hand to give more information about the state park and other recreational opportunities in the area.  There will also be free arts and crafts for children.

A bird walk will begin at 9:30 a.m.  Guided wildflower hikes will begin at 10 a.m. These hikes have a limited number of spaces and will be filled on a first come, first served basis at the event.  Visitors can also take a self-guided tour with a free wildflower hike pamphlet.  

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, the great-great granddaughter of Francisco Pacheco, donated the land in 1992 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 20 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 1800s, 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.

Families are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch. There is no drinking water available, so bring your own beverages.  The weather at Pacheco State Park varies, so bring layered clothing and sunscreen. 

There is an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle.  This same fee will allow you to also visit San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area the same day. Pacheco State Park is located 24 miles west of Los Banes or 20 miles east of Gilroy off Highway 152 on Dinosaur Point Road.