California Citrus State Historic Park

A few weeks ago on an unexpectedly sunny Sunday afternoon, (say that 3 times fast!) we decided to get outside and enjoy the day. We are not used to so many cloudy or rainy days around here.  We headed to Riverside to visit the Citrus  State Historic  Park. Having driven by this place a few times over the years, we really didn’t know much about it or what to expect.

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With only about a 30 minute drive we arrived in time for the (free) 12:00 tour. There were about 10 people in our group, consisting of all ages. Some were local and others were visiting from colder climates and enjoying the California sunshine. Bree was our volunteer docent / guide. She is a full time high school biology teacher by day. She was very knowledgeable and made the one hour walking tour very interesting.

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After giving us an empty  bag and a promise of free samples,  Bree gave us a brief history of the Citrus industry in Riverside, California. At one time this was the California Gold. Soon we headed off to the magnificent orange groves for a few citrus lessons up close and personal.

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Naturally there was one person there who just wanted to buck the system and seemed to perhaps think that because of her age the rules simply did not apply to her. Shockingly she was probably the oldest person in the group! Perhaps she felt her age entitled her to some special privileges such as picking up dropped fruit from the ground when we were specifically told not to. It is a state park after all, so we must know you are not allowed to take anything out of the park. I felt sympathy for our guide when she had to politely chastise this overzealous visitor.

Anyway, as we walked along a very smooth pathway we stopped at various trees for information about that specific type of tree. There were also many photo opportunities and since it was such a gorgeous day we took advantage of it.

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The palm trees were added to distinguish the dirt roads within the grove.

As we stopped at each tree she educated us on the type of fruit, its history, and other  citrus related information.  She  occasionally, but carefully (to not harm either the fruit or the tree), cut a piece of fruit for each of us to take home. We came home with lemons, grapefruit, navel oranges, tangelos, and blood oranges just to name a few. Who knew there was so many varieties? The grove works closely with the University of California at Riverside in the development and education  of new and existing varieties of citrus. This would include disease resistance as well as trees specifically for grafting to produce the new varieties. I did not know that a citrus tree does not generally grow from a seed but from a graft. Some trees are specifically grown just for this purpose.

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Not just dropped fruit-a tree specifically for grafting.

 We had a picturesque and easy walk  around the grove.

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Notice the smudge-pot in the lower left of the picture. These were heated with oil to keep fruit from freezing years ago. Now, water is used. Much more environmentally friendly.

All too soon we were taken back to the main building and gift shop. On the patio our education continued along with slices of the various fruits.

20170129_132221.jpgI grew up in Riverside and spent most of my life driving around orange groves. I really did not think beyond the beauty of the trees and the groves themselves. It was just the way it was. Sometimes we don’t miss something until it is gone.

There are almost 400 acres of citrus trees in the park.

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A small Museum, gift shop, and outbuildings which are available for rent to host events make up the remainder of the park. For a mere $5 entrance you are able to spend an enjoyable afternoon and actually have something to take home with you! Perfect for history buffs, the curious, or for a local outing.  With the Cara Cara oranges being our absolute favorite, we stopped at a roadside stand and purchased a bag.

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Sometimes when you take a moment to look around your own community it is  amazing what points of interest you might stumble across. I highly recommend this to Southern California locals or visitors. Although orange groves were very commonplace throughout the areas here, eventually it was decided that the real money was in the real estate and  many thousands of acres throughout Southern California were plowed over in the name of progress. Now, homes fill the landscape. I suppose this is something that happens all over as we get away from a more natural environment to a more commercial or industrial environment. I’m so grateful for state and national parks in that preserve uniqueness and beauty.

What are your favorite protected parks?

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33 thoughts on “California Citrus State Historic Park

  1. What beautiful sights! I wish I’d been with you. I was expecting you to say something about the scent, or is it just when the trees are blossoming that you can smell that citrus perfume?

    Last week I received a box of oranges and mangoes from friends who were vacationing in Florida. Yum!

    I love all our national parks. Some of the best near me are Olympic National Park and Rainier National Park.

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  2. I did not realise California’s orange groves were a dying thing. There are oranges in our stores at certain time of the year with California labels adhered. I thought the orange groves were spread far and wide. It is so good to hear there is one that is being used for education purposes and being kept as a protected park and heritage. A most interesting post!

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  3. What a wonderful day out for you! I love the thought of orange groves and know that California had a lot of these. The fruit much taste divine. Yes, good to remind us to look close to home for new outings and experiences in life. Thank you so much for sharing. 😀😀🍋🍊

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  4. I did not know they stopped using smudge pots to protect against the freeze. The using of water is surprising. Yes, we are seeing more and more grooves being plowed under to make room for more condos. We will miss them when they are gone. I’ve never done a lot of park things. We at one time used to camp at Refugio State Beach. I’ve been to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. I would have enjoyed learning all about the citrus. Thanks for sharing your visit.

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  5. I always appreciate your visits, Marlene. I’m sure smudge pots must have contributed to the heavy smog that we experienced some years ago. I have actually never been to Refugio State Beach but have wanted to give it a try. Not sure how many camping days I have the ability to do but hopefully this knee replacement will help. Remember all of the agriculture up and down the 5 and 99 highways? It’s either progress or water that changes the life we knew!

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  6. I guess I sat right here and watched all those homes being built and never registered about the loss of orange groves. Yes we still have many but nothing like days of yesteryear. When I moved to our town we were in the midst of a huge Dairy Preserve and cows were everywhere. We were slightly Infamous due to the smell but I loved countryish living. We also had a great deal of agriculture. Much of that is gone and the previously protected dairy preserve was broken up. We are now much more of a suburban area with huge overpriced homes around us. I often wonder who on earth can afford these ridiculously priced homes. With 5 + bedrooms it’s inconceivable that young families who might need them could actually afford them. Good to know that a few California oranges make it your way!

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  7. I haven’t been to either of those Parks but we’ll certainly have them on my list of places I want to see. We really do love the national parks. We don’t actually have any orange groves in my town, but I do remember the scent of the orange blossoms. They bloom generally about twice a year. One thing we do still have is strawberry fields. Not as many as we had in the past but berries are for sale now and I can’t wait to get some to start canning some Jam!

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  8. Oh, California sunshine and those oranges! I can smell them now. I love all of California (except the cost of living😊). Especially, Yosemite. I could spend months there in an RV! Thank you for sharing and please continue to post photos of the most beautiful state!

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  9. Thank you so much for stopping by. This winter we have been missing our abundant sunshine but grateful for the rain which made a big dent in our drought. We are just a bit spoiled!! I will enjoy reading about your travels around the world. Our travels remain in the USA.

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  10. I love these kinds of things. Tours can be so informative and fascinating. I have to remind myself to take my time with these things and support efforts to educate the public. You look great in your latest pic, by the way!

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  11. It is a pretty special place. With some relief of the drought situation, hopefully we will be able to enjoy living in this semi paradise again. (As long as you don’t count the traffic and congestion haha.😃 )

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  12. Ahhh, thanks, Lani. I used to hide from the camera but finally realized that my kids would have no pictures of me and then “say oh yeah that lady who raised us” right? 😀 I enjoy saying things as well. You always have so many interesting places to show and tell.

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  13. Thank you for sharing these pictures and story of a wonderful California day! I haven’t made it to California yet, so being able to read about your stories are very enjoyable. Reading about all the different types of citrus made my mouth water a little bit and wished that I could have had some samples as well!

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  14. I see you have been traveling all over but you really should make California a stop. It’s quite a different state from north to south but all of it is quite amazing I think.

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  15. It would never have occurred to me to make a park out of a citrus farm. The trees are so lodged in my brain as a crop. But of course they deserve a park. There is a long, interesting history and a story of California that needs to be told, and protected from developers. Thank you for the education. Sounds like the day was lovely, and the free samples a bonus!

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  16. Thanks, Nancy. I guess we are so used to having citrus readily available that we’ve taken it for granted. Gosh, I have a lemon tree in my yard! I am doing well. How about you? Always love hearing from you.

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  17. Looks like you had a sweet day! How fun! How are you? I am trying to post again. We’ll see. I do Instagram and its so much quicker …the reason for my absence on here.

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  18. I am on Instagram all the time! Way easier than FB. Trying to keep my blog going. After 3 1/2 years hate to throw in the towel. I am good, thanks. How about you? Let’s try to hook up on Instagram.👍 If all else fails I put a link on my post about my whole 30 diet.

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  19. It sounds like a lovely tour at the Citrus state park. That is one overzealous visitor indeed. I hope that that was only one time and the fruits were left alone after that. Sometimes we are just captivated by everything we see that is hard not to touch 😀 So lovely you and the group were able to take a slice of each of the fruit home. Very generous and hopefully all of them were sweet…at least that is how I like my fruit 🙂

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  20. Thank you for dropping by. Yes, it was a lovely afternoon. Growing up we were always surrounded by citrus groves. The destruction of them was so gradual we almost didn’t notice. Isn’t that the way with so many resources around the world?

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