Olompali State Historic Park: A Hidden Gem in California

As with most of our day journeys, we don’t know where we are headed until we are in the car. Not having plans opens you up to EPIC adventures, I like to think of it as a beautiful dance between faith and intuition. There are times where we get lost or have things go wrong, but we honor those times as a test of patience and faith and if we are lucky, we have a day like yesterday.

We decided to embark on this trip of driving to who knows where with my in-laws, otherwise known as Grandma and Grandpa Bourque. They were brave enough to get lost with us, so on we went towards the coast. The original plan was to head to the beach and walk around. We hit some heavy traffic on Highway 37, and I could feel all our excitement for the day deflate. We were on on different pages about staying close, going back home, eating, etc.

Quietly among the chatter, I closed my eyes and asked God to lead us somewhere unique where we will all find something to be in awe over. I did this by sensing what it would be like to feel the wonder of excitement, followed by daydreaming about my daughter picking wild flowers.

Do you realize manifestation can be that simple? The key is to clear out your inner junk so you can be more aligned with the powerful current of the holy spirit.

Good ol’ Google maps was my next step where I saw Olompali State Historic Park was only 4 miles away. Another grim look at the traffic and BOOM, my husband got off the highway faster than a hyper toddler and headed towards there. As we drove through the one lane winding road, I can hear Grandma JooEe and Isabella giggling and singing, while “the Joes” were chatting about this and that. As I peered through the windows, I felt as if we were driving through the rolling hills of Ireland. After the long drought we had, the surplus of beautiful rain mother earth gave us made the hills come alive vibrantly with hues of orange poppies and white daises. We finally arrived and walked toward some houses and a lush nature trail that lead to what we know understand is one of the most uniquely historical spots of California, Olompali State Park.

As a southern girl at heart, its no wonder I fell in love with this park, as I found out “Olompali” comes from the Miwok language and may be translated as “southern village” or “southern people.” The Coast Miwok inhabited part of this land from as early as 6,000 BC, until the early 1850s. The  father of the Miwok’s last living chief, Camillo Ynitia, built a house in 1776, still on site and verified to be the oldest house north of the San Francisco bay.

Over the years, various Miwok cultural artifacts have been found during archaeological studies within the area of the present-day park, indicating this may have once been an important trade and cultural crossroads. There is one crossroad that may perk up the ears of any deadheads out there, that’s right, in the 1960’s the famous rockband the Grateful Dead occupied this area and had peers come to visit such as Janis Joplin and Grace Slick.

jerry garcia, olompali

Figure 1. Gerry Garcia (right) of the Grateful Dead and Paul Kantner (left) of the Jefferson Airplane jamming at Olompali, 1968.

Olompali was also the home of “The Chosen Family”, a well known commune lead by Don McCoy, in the infamous Summer of Love, 1967. Where the Grateful Dead would continue to visit and hang out with the commune’s 70 members. A fire destroyed the main quarters and they closed up roughly around August 1969.

Grateful Dead Olompali
Figure 2. Back cover of the Grateful Dead’s album “Aoxomoxoa” (Warner Brothers, 1969), showing the members of the band with The Chosen Family at Olompali, 1969.


After quite the journey, in 1977 the state bought the park and officially became Olompali Historic State Park where it has since then become a fave hiking spot in the bay area.

Walking along a lush green trail while looking at old houses, a barn, a dairy farm, tee-pees, a saltbox house, and a kitchen rock (formation where the Miwok women ground acorns into flour), made me feel like I was visiting a time capsule of the past in different eras looking for the same thing, community in nature. A place to socialize, a place to love. A place to be human.

People weren’t the only thing I came across while discovering Olompali. Just pass the Tee Pee’s where the Miwok used to gather daily, we ran across a flock of turkeys.  I had no idea how interesting they can be. We started playing a game where I gobbled and they repeated after me at the same time. They definitely looked happy to be roaming around the park and not to bothered by people.

For a sunny Sunday, this adventure sure surpassed all of our expectations. After learning about all the history of Olompali State Historic Park, I’m convinced there is something sacred about Olompali, something about the land that draws people in and makes them take a moment out of their life for however long, to appreciate nature, history, and the power of bringing people together. Whether it be a tribe, a commune, or just a hiking group looking for an interesting journey.

Being able to walk around and get inspired California’s culture of adventure, history and love intertwined in nature makes me grateful to live in such a beautiful area and motivated to find the next adventure!

Here is a gallery of photos from our outing.

More pictures to come. If you enjoyed this post I would love to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey. Until next time.

Katrina and the Journey


  1. California Dept of Parks and Rec, website, 2017                      http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=465
  2. California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation, website, 2017 http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/ListedResources/Detail/210
  3. The Coastal Post, 1997,  http://www.coastalpost.com/97/9/13.htm
  4. A Note Regarding a Hippie Discography from Olompali. Science Notes No. 173. California State Parks, Petaluma.
  5. https://scahome.org/publications/proceedings/Proceedings.25Fernandez.pdf


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s