Park Day Use Hours:
Sunrise to Sunset
10 am - 4 pm
The museum will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
Check air quality conditions before heading out to the park. Nearby wildfires may affect your visit. Check the National Weather Service Air Quality page.
About the Park
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park (IGR) is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills 12 miles east of Jackson, CA. The park nestles in a little valley 2,400 feet above sea level with open meadows and large valley oaks that once provided the Native Americans of this area with an ample supply of acorns. The park was created in 1968 and preserves a great outcropping of marbleized limestone with some 1,185 mortar holes -- the largest collection of bedrock mortars in North America.
The park is northeast of Stockton in the lower foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Take State Highway 88 East through Jackson to the town of Pine Grove. Take a left turn on Pine Grove-Volcano Road and approximately 1.5 miles later you will arrive at the park. The SECOND turnoff is the main entrance to the day use area while the first turn off is to the campground.
The Sierra foothills experience warm, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Many summer days exceed ninety degrees. Snow falls occasionally during the winter in the Chaw'se area, but most precipitation takes the form of rain.
Facilities - Activities
The Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum
The museum features a variety of exhibits and an outstanding collection of Sierra Nevada Indian artifacts. A Miwok village complete with a ceremonial roundhouse has been reconstructed in the middle of the small valley.
The Museum has been designed to reflect the architecture of the traditional roundhouse. Exhibited in this two-story museum are outstanding examples of the technology and crafts of the Miwok and other Sierra Nevada native American groups.
As a regional Indian museum, the collection at Chaw'se includes Northern, Central and Southern Miwok, Maidu, Konkow, Monache, Nisenan, Tubatulabal, Washo, and Foothill Yokuts. Examples of basketry, feather regalia, jewelry, arrowpoints, and other tools are on display.
Additionally, we offer camping on the southside of the park with our 22 site campground. Please visit the camping page for more information.
Big Time Events
Several times a year ceremonies are held in the hun'ge (roundhouse) by local Native Americans. One of those ceremonies, Big Time, brings together Indian families on the last weekend in September for the annual acorn gathering. 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. During this event please ask for permission before taking photographs of Native Americans.
School Group Tours
School group tours education packet. School tours are conducted from March 1st through approximately the middle of June and also September 1st through approximately the middle of November. Reservations for School Group Tours must be made in advance. Please call the park to inquire about available dates and times as well as applicable fees.
Environmental Living/Group Camping
Camping in the U'macha'tam'ma' sites (bark houses to the north) is a unique experience. Here you can "get away from it all" and get back in touch with the natural world while simultaneously learning something about Miwok life.
Seven bark houses, each one suitable for up to six people, have been constructed in a secluded area of the park. They can be reserved for a group of up to 44 people. The camping is primitive; therefore you must haul water, supplies and equipment 200 yards, or more, from the parking area; however, your time here will be unforgettable as you experience life in a bark house.
Reservations can be made up to six months in advance by phone or mail. Applications are available by contacting the park or by clicking the link on the right side of this page.
Alcohol in the Park
The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all areas of the park at all times except the 22 developed family campsites; this prohibition includes the Environmental Living/Group Camp area.
The day use area of the park contains a 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 (up to 150 persons). Reservations for the area are not accepted. There is also a small picnic area next to the museum. Please do not use campsites for picnicking. For day use groups over 25 people please contact the park at 209-296-7488 for specific instructions.
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. A trail guide is available for 50 cents at the start of the South Trail near the round house; deposit money into the brown metal box with the guides..
The park is small, but offers many opportunities to observe wildlife. The mixture of oak woodlands and mixed pine forest provides a wide variety of habitats, just as it did in previous centuries when the Miwok lived here in the old way.
Birdlife varies depending on the season, but many species are seen year round, including turkey vultures, scrub and Steller's jays, California quail, acorn and hairy woodpeckers, northern flickers, hermit thrushes, wild turkeys (non-native), and California thrashers. In summer, the bright colors of the western tanager, northern oriole, calliope and Anna's hummingbirds can be seen in the woods around the meadow. A bird list is available at the museum.
Animal life in and around the park includes deer, fox, gray and California ground squirrels, black-tailed jackrabbits, bobcats, bats, and occasionally a mountain lion or black bear. The legendary coyote - the trickster of Miwok legend - can be heard singing on quiet summer nights.
Guided School Tours
General Description: Learn about the indigenous Miwok tribe with a visit to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, this park protects a scared Miwok site that was home to a Miwok village for thousands of years. This park most notably features the largest grinding rock in North America. During this program, students will understand how the Miwok tribe used the natural resources around them and lived in harmony within their environment through an examination of cultural items, clothing, and structures. Students will also learn how members of the Miwok tribe continue to keep their traditions alive to this day.
Academic Content Standard Subject Area: History/Social Science. Guided Tours will be offerred on Wednesdays at 10 am and 12:15 for a maxiumum of 35 students per time slot.
To book your field trip call 209-296-7488.
We can also accommodate your school on a self-guided visit and require a reservation to waive your day use fees and help make sure that you and your class have a wonderful, personalized experience. You are welcome to visit our Regional Indian Museum or hike the nature trail as part of your field trip to the park.
To make a self-guided reservation call 209-296-7488.
Park Fees and Schedule
|Day Use||$8.00/per vehicle|
|Motorcycle Day Use||$8.00/per motorcycle|
|Camping||$30.00/ per night|
|Holiday Camping||$35.00/per night|
|Camping Extra Vehicle||$8.00/per night|
|Senior Discount||$1.00 off day use $2.00 off camping|
We now accept reservations through ReserveCalifonia year round.
Camping Fees: We accept credit card payments in the Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum 10-4 daily.
The senior discount only applies to day use fees and campsite fees. The discount does not apply towards supplementary fees such as extra vehicle fees.
Camping fees pay for one vehicle only and all campsites are limited to two vehicles maximum. Trailers (travel, boat, personal watercraft, etc.) count as a vehicle; however, trailers are not required to pay the extra vehicle fee. Extra vehicle fees are required for vehicles driven in to the park, including motorcycles.
The maximum limit on all campsites is 27 feet. There is no overflow parking in or near the campground - plan accordingly.
The park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. The Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum is open daily 10am to 4pm; admission to the museum is free with your paid parking.
The campground is open every day of the year. Check in time is 2pm and check out time is noon.