The moment you step out of your car at the California Citrus State Historic Park, you smell the sweet smell of orange blossoms. Citrus orchards are rapidly disappearing from the Inland Empire, but you can still find rows of orange trees at this 250-acre park in Riverside, California.
Situated on a hilltop with views of mountains are some of the last remaining orange groves in Riverside. This area of Southern California was once the center of the citrus industry. Thousands of Navel oranges trees covered the hills and valleys as far as you could see.
Visitor Center Citrus State Historic Park
The California Citrus State Historical Park features impressive exhibits and movies about the history of Citrus in California. There is also a gift shop that offers books, crate labels, and citrus-related souvenirs. Weekend guided tours start at the visitor center. At the end of the tour, guests can taste the different varieties of oranges found in the park.
Citrus Park Self-Guided Tours
Near the visitor center, several trails let you get up close to the citrus trees. Stroll through the orange groves and enjoy views of the inland empire and the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. About one-third of the park remains unchanged from the days when the park was a working citrus ranch.
Gage Canal Riverside
In the corner of the park behind the visitor center is the Gage Canel. Built in 1885 by the former citrus ranch owner, Matthew Gage, the canal is 12 miles long and drew water from the Santa Ana River to the water the groves. A water flume allowed the channel to cross the Mockingbird Canyon arroyo before being dammed and turned into the current water reservoir.
Can I Pick Oranges
Please do not pick or remove the fruit from California State Parks. There are no U-Pick oranges at California Citrus State Historic Park. Free citrus samples are usually available at the visitor’s center on weekends. Orange groves within the park still produce high-quality fruits harvested by Gless Ranch, with most of the profit returned to the park.
Citrus State Historic Park Weddings
California Citrus State Historical Park is a popular wedding destination. The Sunkist Center can accommodate large groups inside the building and in the covered gazebo area. Facility rentals are available through the California Citrus Nonprofit Management Corporation. Wedding Info.
Gless Ranch Fruit Stand
Gless Ranch has a small fruit stand at the entrance to the park that sells fresh citrus and juice. The fruit stand is a must stop entering or leaving California Citrus State, Historical Park. Gless Ranch also has a much larger farmers market at 19985 Van Buren Blvd in Riverside. Website.
Southern California Citrus History
In 1873, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forever changed the history of Southern California when it sent two small Navel orange trees to Riverside resident Eliza Tibbets. Those trees, growing in near-perfect soil and weather conditions, produced lovely and flavorful fruit. Word of this type of orange quickly spread, and a great agricultural industry was born.
In the early 1900s, an effort to promote citrus ranching in the state brought hundreds of would-be citrus barons to California for the “second Gold Rush.” The lush groves of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit gave California another legacy—its lingering image as the Golden State—the land of sunshine and opportunity.
Getting to California Citrus State Historic Park
California Citrus State Historical Park is located in Riverside, at 9400 Dufferin Avenue (at the corner of Van Buren). Plan on spending about a couple of hours at the park, longer if you bring along a picnic lunch. The park is open 7 Days a Week; however, the visitor center is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Park Website.