In the Field at the San Joaquin River Gorge


Hi, I’m Tracy Rowland. I’m the park manager here at the San Joaquin River Gorge. And I’d like to bring you down and give you a tour and show you what our typical day is like. The San Joaquin River Gorge is located in central California about 35 miles east of Fresno, near the local community of Auberry, California. The management area is just under 7,000 acres in size and it straddles the San Joaquin River, which is one of the largest rivers in California. It is located in two counties – Fresno and Madera county. The management area is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada so we are at an elevation range of about 600 feet and the highest point is about 2,300 feet. It’s a steep river canyon. Most of the geology is granite that was formed about a hundred million years ago. And then we have some unique topographic features called Table Mountains. And because they were basalt, they ‘re porous and there’s air pockets and holes and gaps, it’s an uneven surface, so there are a lot of vernal pools that occur on top of these table lands and they provide unique habitat for a whole suite of species associated with vernal pools. One of the main things we do here at the Gorge is offer interpretive and environmental education programs. We have a Native American village site, we have a lot of cultural education programs that we do, we work with our local tribes – the Mono and the Yokuts people – working with our local tribal folks to preserve their cultural, their traditions, and as much of their language as we can. There is over 22-miles of hiking trails and equestrian trails. All of our trails are multiple use trails, but they are not open to motorized vehicles. So they are strictly hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian uses. The area is extremely popular with mountain bikers because of the topography, there is a lot of granite boulders and steep areas, and because of the amount of granite that we have, the trails are very durable and they hold up to a lot of mountain bike use, which is a good thing. Accessible with a paved road, the climate is mild; we are below the snow lines so we have year-round recreational opportunities. We have two campgrounds, one is a group site that is available by reservation, and we also have a walk-in campground that has five sites. There is fishing and hunting, nature study, photography, and we get a lot of group use here from scouts to church groups, to school groups. We provide the education programs; we usually have between 3 to 6 thousand visitors for our education programs each year. Well I hope you have enjoyed this short tour of the San Joaquin River Gorge, I’d like to invite you to come see us sometime and explore it for yourself. Explore the environment and your history.

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