#OptOutside Friday: California National Monuments Designated by President Obama

Inspired by President Obama and #OptOutside, we’ve highlighted some of the National Monuments designated by President Obama in California.

California National Monuments Courtesy of President Obama

As President Barrack Obama prepares to leave office, questions surround whether or not the president-elect will reverse many of the environmental programs President Obama has established and encouraged during his administration. While we can only wait to see what will happen to programs such as NASA, initiatives like America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and global agreements like the Paris Agreement, we’ve come up with ways to enjoy the fruits of Obama’s labor.

President Obama has designated the most national monuments of any President in the United States. While every President has utilized the Antiquities Act of 1906 – the law that gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from public lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features – President Obama set a precedence by designating 24 new National Monuments during his presidency.

“Every president has used the Antiquities Act, and some have used it more than others,” said Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, an independent parks advocacy group, told USA Today. “But it is very different, what Obama has done. You’ve started to see his protection of parks that tell very important stories that have been neglected in our history.”

Inspired by President Obama and #OptOutside – an REI campaign that encourages consumers to spend ‘Black Friday’ outside – we’ve highlighted some of the National Monuments you can visit in California. While many of President Obama’s other National Monuments are incredibly significant, such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, these California sites are nearer, and dearer, to our hearts; especially by bike. For a full list of Obama’s National Monuments visit the wiki page: National Monuments designated by President Barrack Obama

The following national monuments are listed in order of establishment date:

Fort Ord National Monument, California

Monterey Bay, California

Located on the former Fort Ord military base, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals along with their native coastal habitats. Habitat preservation and conservation are primary missions for the Fort Ord Public Lands but there are also more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback. For more information please visit: www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/fort_ord/index.html Photo: Bob Wick, BLM California
Located on the former Fort Ord military base, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals along with their native coastal habitats. Photo: Bob Wick, BLM California

The former U.S. military post spanning 14,658 acres on the Pacific coast, Ford Ord was established in April 2012. Public use is allowed from dusk to dawn in this undeveloped wild land.

Biking: Offering both paved roads and off-road trails, Fort Ord offers an entire day of exquisite nature to absorb with more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback. Fort Ord protects at least 35 rare species and is home to an array of wildlife including badgers, bobcats, California quail, golden eagles, horned lizards and pumas.

Fort Ord Bike Map Courtsey of See Monterey

Cesar Chavez National Monument, California

Keene, California


The 116 acre Cesar E. Chavez National Monument is also a national historic landmark, given that it was the former home of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and headquarters of the United Farm Workers. It was established in October 2012 and is open daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m., except for certain holidays.

Biking: The monument is located among the Tehachapi mountains in Keene, it’s about 27 miles southeast of Bakersfield. We’re not familiar with this area, but the monument is only 12 miles west if you start in the town of Tehachapi and take Woodford Tehachapi Road for the majority of the way.

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, California

Angeles and San Bernardino national forests, California

As seen in: socal Bicyclist magazine Issue #128. Photo by Krystof Andres

This majestic landscape is 346,1777 acres of federal land in the San Gabriel Mountains and was established as a National Monument in October 2014.

Biking: Perhaps the best are for biking in this list, the San Gabriel Mountains are the most utilized by bicyclists. With this much land to cover, you might not know where to start. A popular route that we’ve talked about on plenty of occasions is the route to Crystal Lake Cafe through the San Gabriel Mountains. A great starting point is the Azusa River Wilderness Park at the base of the mountains. It is also the route that Dean Hall took when he tested Dean Bikes Steel El Vado bike.

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, California

Portions of seven counties in Northern California

Lake Berryessa in Napa County Photo: Kevin Cortopassi - flickr
Lake Berryessa in Napa County Photo: Kevin Cortopassi – flickr

These 330,780 acres in the California Coast Ranges were established in July 2015. Berryessa Snow Mountain region stretches from Putah Creek below Lake Berryessa, across remote stretches of Cache Creek north to Snow Mountain.

Biking: Mountain biking is permitted in parts of these areas, but it is still very much a wilderness environment. Wildlife such as bald and golden eagles, black bears, mountain lions and herds of wild tule elk call this region home. The area also features 5,000-year-old archaeological sites and is recognized as an Archeological District on the National Register of Historic Places; during the area’s rich history four different Native American tribes called this special place home. IMBA was a part of making the lands a National Monument and they’ve highlighted a couple trails in the area that are excellent for mountain biking: Fiske Peak Loop and Double Loop

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Map
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Map

Castle Mountains National Monument, California

San Bernardino County, California

The Castle Mountains range and Johua tree (Yucca brevifolia) woodland, in the Eastern Mojave Desert and within Castle Mountains National Monument (est. 2016), San Bernardino County, California.
The Castle Mountains range and Johua tree (Yucca brevifolia) woodland, in the Eastern Mojave Desert and within Castle Mountains National Monument (est. 2016), San Bernardino County, California.

Castle Mountains National Monument is 20,920 acres of mountainous Mojave Desert wilderness established February 2016. The national monument protects a section of the Castle Mountains, a range located in San Bernardino County and Clark County, Nevada, and it is always open. The habitat offers an exceptional opportunity to study plant and animal movement, and it has been the sight of new and rare plant populations.It provides an insight into what a real California desert looks like with regular encounters with wildlife, such as the Bighorn sheep.

Biking: The nearly 21,000 acres of Castle Mountains boasts Joshua tree forests, unbroken natural landscapes, rare desert grasslands, and rich human history. Because this designation is fairly recent, it doesn’t seem like any biking trails have been established. This national treasure is to be viewed on foot.


Sand to Snow National Monument, California

San Bernardino County, California

Sand to Snow National Monument
Sand to Snow National Monument

In San Bernadino County, the Sand to Snow National Monument is 154,000 acres, stretching from the Sonoran Desert floor up to 10,000 feet in the San Gorgonio Wilderness that was established February 2016.

Biking: Riding is permitted on designated routes, which include the forest road and trail network, except for the Pacific Crest Trail, short nature trails, and any trail leading to, or inside designated Wilderness areas. The Sand to Snow National Monument is the most botanically diverse national monument in America and encompasses many options for biking. Popular segments for biking and enjoying the beautiful landscape of Southern California include Big Bear Lake Recreation Center, Lake Arrowhead, Santa Ana River Trail, and Idyllwild – a route we covered in issue #133.

The entirety of the Santa Ana River Trail beginning in Huntington Beach and ending in San Bernadino

Mojave Trails National Monument, California

San Bernardino County, California


Cadiz Dunes
Cadiz Dunes

The Mojave Trails cover 1.6 million acres of mountains, lava flows, fossil beds and sand dunes that was established by President Barrack Obama February 2016. The National Monument protects major wildlife and recreational corridors between Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve, plus additional acreage in Bristol Dry Lake, Cadiz Valley and Sacramento Mountains. The focal point of the new preserve is the remote and nearly pristine Cadiz Dunes that formed from the sand of dry lake beds

Biking: There are many mountain biking segments throughout the Mojave Trails. A simple search on Map My Ride will garner many options for bike riding in the desert. TRY THIS:Mojave Ride by tanner 23 on Map my Ride 21.4 miles with maximum elevation of 3,150.79 ft.mojavetrails_20160129


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