Bidwell Park is by far the greatest and most lasting contribution Gen. John and Annie Bidwell, Chico’s founders, made to the community. It is also one of the most diverse and pristine parks in America.
The 3,670-acre municipal park encompasses both sides of Big Chico Creek Canyon for a full five miles up into the foothills, making it a truly spectacular retreat. There’s really no park like it anywhere.
Annie Bidwell deeded the original property–some 2,238 acres–to the City of Chico on July 10, 1905, along with the Children’s Park downtown, and since then it has remained in the public trust. An additional 1,380 acres were added with a purchase approved by the City Council in 1995.
Home of Big Chico Creek, Sycamore Pool, Bidwell Golf Course and Big Chico Creek Canyon–to name a few of the most popular features–the park is the natural heart and soul of the community and regularly tabbed by News & Review readers as the best thing about Chico.
The park is governed by the city of Chico through the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission.
There are two distinct sections to the park–Lower and Upper.
Much of Upper Park is sensitive, undeveloped canyon land and has special rules for use. Please follow them. They are imposed for the continued good health of the park and for the safety of the public.
Various picnic areas and playing fields in Lower Park can be reserved for events and reunions of all sorts by contacting the city Parks Division at 898-7800.
One of the park’s longest-lasting claims to fame is that the original Hollywood movie, Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and company, was filmed there among the majestic oaks and sycamores in 1938. It’s easy to see why: This urban forest is unmatched.
For outdoor exercise, Bidwell Park is a premier choice of venues. A significant stretch of South Park Drive is closed to automobile traffic, so bicyclists, joggers, skaters and pedestrians share the wide, paved street unbothered by motor vehicles. There are also multitudes of dirt trails, both in Lower and Upper Park, for jogging, mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking.
Petersen Drive on the north side of the creek is open to cars and allows vehicle access to the rustic picnic spots located all along the north side of Big Chico Creek in the Lower Park. The park is beautiful during all times of the year, but spring brings a colorful explosion of flowers. Please respect the park and, most of all, enjoy.
From the Chico News & Review, Oct 21, 2001