The Stanislaus River and surrounding oak forests make Caswell Memorial State Park one of California’s most pristine examples of a riparian forest ecosystem.
Visitors to the park can enjoy 258 acres of protected lands that are home to a variety of wildlife, several species of which are endangered. The area is especially popular with bird watchers eager to catch a glimpse of hawks, owls, and water fowl.
Take advantage of the river’s cooling waters by swimming at one of two designated swim beaches or canoeing, kayaking, and tubing down the waterway as it winds through the park.
The Stanislaus River is also a favorite of fisherman who catch bass, catfish, bluegill, and, at certain times of year, migrating Chinook salmon.
Hikers of all skill levels can find a nature trail made for them in Caswell Memorial State Park’s extensive trail system. Call ahead to arrange for a Ranger-led hike to learn more about native wildlife, plants, and park history.
The Caswell Memorial State Park Campground offers 64 family campsites each with a picnic table, camp stove, and food locker. Visitors can easily access hot showers, restrooms, and the beach.
RV Rentals in Caswell Memorial
Transportation in Caswell Memorial
Caswell Memorial State Park is located outside of Ripon, California, in the state’s Central Valley. The park is about an hour driving’s distance from Sacramento and about 25 minutes outside of Modesto.
The park is easily accessed from Highway 99 via Austin Rd. Visitors heading south on Austin Road will dead end at the park entrance.
All park roads are paved and designed to make navigating by RV or with a trailer simple. The campground area is located on a loop to make movement in and out easy for motorists.
Campsites offer parking for two vehicles. The park also has additional parking near the campground, Big Meadows picnic area, and Willow Beach. All vehicles must remain on paved roads and park only in designated parking sites. A 15 mph speed limit is strictly enforced.
Bicycles are allowed on paved park roads and fire roads, but are not permitted on trails. All bikers under the age of 18 must wear helmets. Every biker should be equipped with a headlight and reflectors.
All routes connecting the Oak Grove picnic area, parking, restrooms, and showers are ADA accessible. A fat-tire wheelchair is available for loan at the Ranger Station to make navigating the self-guided .07-mile nature trail more easily accessible.
Campgrounds and parking in Caswell Memorial
Campsites in Caswell Memorial
Caswell Memorial State Park Campground
The Caswell Memorial State Park Campground sits in a secluded oak grove near the Stanislaus River. The campground hosts 64 family campsites that can accommodate trailers up to 21 feet or motor homes up to 24 feet. There are no hookups available. Each site includes a table, camp stove, and food locker. Generators can be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wood gathering is prohibited in the park, but may be purchased in season from the camp host. Each site includes parking for two vehicles and is limited to eight people. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a six-foot leash at all times. Guests have access to restrooms and showers.
Seasonal activities in Caswell Memorial
The Stanislaus River winds through Caswell Memorial State Park. The slow-moving, muddy-bottomed river is a favorite fishing spot for anglers of all skill levels. Many species of fish thrive in the area. On any given summer day, fishermen can catch largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass, sturgeon, bluegill, catfish, shad, and buffalo carp. Chinook salmon migrate annually through the area. Walk directly from the campground to the water’s edge or set up for the day anywhere along the shore. All anglers age 16 and over are required to carry a valid California fishing license.
The Stanislaus River provides the perfect venue for experiencing Caswell Memorial State Park and getting an authentic taste of the park’s unique natural surroundings. Only small, hand-powered watercraft are allowed. Canoes and kayaks are a local favorite, and can be rented in the area if you don’t bring your own from home. Many guests choose to tube the river as well. A hand boat launch can be found in the Willow Beach Day Use Area and at the Salmon Bend Camp Beach.
On a hot California day, nothing is better than a dip in the cool river waters. Caswell Memorial State Park has two designated swimming areas. The first, Salmon Bend Camp Beach, is located adjacent to the campground. The second, Willow Beach, is located in the Day Use area. No lifeguards are on duty. Park rangers caution visitors to wear life jackets while in or near the water at all times as water levels in the area can change quickly and unexpectedly.
A picnic by the water is always an enjoyable activity any time of the year at Caswell Memorial State Park. Day use picnic areas can be found at Willow Beach and Oak Grove. A larger group picnic area sits on the shore at Big Meadows. All of the park’s picnic areas offer visitors access to tables and barbecues and are located within walking distance of swimming and boating areas. A fat-tire wheelchair is available for loan from the Ranger Station to assist guests from parking to the picnic areas closer to the beach.
Because of its large, undisturbed land area, Caswell Memorial State Park is home to a diverse catalog of wildlife. Bird watchers can catch a glimpse of dozens of avian varieties including red shouldered and red tail hawks, owls, and waterfowl. The park is also one of the last habitats for the endangered riparian brush rabbit and riparian woodrat. Park rangers often give nature tours that guide wildlife viewing and inform visitors of current conservation efforts.
Caswell Memorial State Park gives hikers access to an extensive trail system. These nature trails offer an experience for all ages, and deliver an up close and personal look at the valley’s riparian ecosystem. The park preserves a look at what the surrounding area would have been like in an undisturbed state. Visitors can tackle short segments of trail or travel the entire connected trail system through oak forests dotted with rare plant species. Except for service animals, pets are not allowed on the trails.