Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, eight miles east of Jackson. The park is nestled in a small valley 2,400 feet above sea level with open meadows and large valley oaks that once provided Native Americans with an ample supply of acorns.

The 135-acre Park preserves the Grinding Rock, a massive outcropping of marbleized limestone with 1,185 mortar holes, the largest collection of bedrock mortars anywhere in North America.

The Park offers a variety of exhibits and events including the Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum designed as a traditional round house, campground, picnic areas, trails, and educational tours for school children. The day use area of the park contains the reconstructed Miwok village, which includes the Grinding Rock itself, bark houses, acorn granaries, a game field and the ceremonial round house. A picnic area with a shade ramada near the grinding rock can accommodate large groups.

The Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum features a variety of exhibits and an outstanding collection of Sierra Nevada Indian artifacts. Examples of basketry, feather regalia, jewelry, arrow points, and other tools created by Northern, Central and Southern Miwok, Maidu, Konkow, Monache, Nisenan, Tubatulabal, Washoe, and Foothill Yokuts tribes are on display .

Several times a year ceremonies are held in the hun'ge (round house) by local Native Americans. Indian families gather at the park on the weekend following the fourth Friday in September for the annual acorn gathering season ceremonies. Dancing, hand games, singing and storytelling are traditional at this event. Spectators are welcome, but there is no fixed schedule of events. Native American crafts and foods are available.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 38.421031 Longitude: -120.6426246 Elevation: 2392 ft
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Amador County Chamber of Commerce

Recreational Opportunities

There are two developed trails within the park. The North Trail, a one-mile round-trip, starts near the museum. It traverses the ridge surrounding the meadow, passes by the old farm site, crosses the creek and continues to the reconstructed Miwok village site before returning to the museum by way of the roundhouse and grinding rock.

The half-mile long South Trail is a self guided nature trail and starts near the roundhouse. The trail guide describes the ethnobotany of the area and identifies some of the plants that were used by the Miwok.

The park has 23 campsites available on a first-come, first served basis and is open all year, except for closures during special events or times of heavy snowfall. School group tours are conducted twice a year and require reservations.

Seasons Accessible

Year-round

ADA Accessibility Notes

Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum. The museum is generally accessible. Most of the exhibit areas are accessibly designed and located. Restrooms: The museum restrooms are on an accessible route to the lower floor on the exterior of the building and are usable. Routes of travel: An accessible paved path leads from the museum and its restrooms to the picnic area and some of the exhibits, including the Bedrock Mortar and Petroglyphs, and toward the Ceremonial Roundhouse.

Bedrock Mortar and Petroglyphs. Visitors view the mortars and petroglyphs from an accessible wood observation deck a few feet above the rocks.

Ceremonial Roundhouse. The Roundhouse is located approximately 30 feet from the accessible trail, along a firm, dirt path with slopes up to 10%. The exhibit is normally viewed only through a barred door.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are allowed in campground only on leashes.

Comments

This is a fantastic park and resource for learning about the original inhabitants of the region. Reading a history book is one thing, but actually seeing and exploring the actual site is fantastic! There is so much important information we seem to have lost or abandoned about living in harmony with the earth. These original peoples did not know the term "carrying capacity" when referring to man's presence in a natural environment. They did not have to. They knew that their very existence was completely dependent on being excellent custodians of the land, the plants and the wildlife. We must make the little steps forward to restore what is so rapidly disappearing, then those will grow into larger ones, then larger ones.

Kirk Lindsay, 9/1/2010

An utterly fantastic, little known state park. I am fortunate to live one mile away in historic town of Volcano. Having traveled extensively, I receive many visitors from all over the world. When I take them to see Chaw Se, they are always overwhelmed. Greater tourism needs to be devoted to this utterly unique, beautiful State Park.

Ruth Gottstein, 1/29/2013

I have been associated with this park for the last 12 years, both as a volunteer and as an employee. We get visitors from all over the world. During the Spring and the Fall, we provide tours for 3rd and 4th graders studying California history. They reminds us of the history of the first Californians. Spring and Fall are my favorite times at the Park, but it is wonderful through all the seasons.

Lynda Burman, 2/14/2013

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