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California National Historic Trail

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324 South State Street, Suite 200, Box 30
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Historical Site,
National Park


The road to California carried over 250,000 gold-seekers & farmers to the gold fields & rich farmlands of California during the 1840s and 1850s - the greatest mass migration in American history. More than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped west as "reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers."


The California National Historic Trail is recognized as a nationally significant resource relevant to the westward expansion of the United States. Although administered by the National Park Service, it is not a typical national park with borders. Rather, it is an historic "road" or route used by hundreds of thousands of emigrants between the 1840s and early 1870s as they made their way west to begin a new life or to seek their fortune.

Operating hours and seasons for trail resources and sites of interest along this 2,000 mile route vary with each site and facility. Many private and agency museums and interpretive centers exist from Missouri to California. Please visit the Links & Resources page for a listing of trail managers and contact information, as well as a bibliography of suggested reading materials.

Auto Tour Route Maps, which follow modern highways that approximate the historic route are available within this web site, and a list of Suggested Trail Sites to Visit will enhance your trail experience.

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