California National Historic Trail

Things To Do

Things To Do

Camping

The National Park Service does not offer any camping facilities along the trail. Inquire with local land managers (see Links and Resources page for contact information).

Short Hikes (usually less than 300 yards) to trail ruts or historic sites

  • Minor Park Ruts, Red Bridge Crossing of the Blue River in Kansas City, MO
  • Alcove Springs in Blue Rapids, KS
  • Rock Creek Station in Fairbury, NE
  • California Hill in Brule, NE
  • Ash Hollow State Park in Lewellen, NE
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument/Mitchell Pass in Gering, NE
  • Fort Laramie NHS/Bedlam Ruts in Fort Laramie, WY
  • Register Cliff/Deep Rut Hill in Guernsey, WY
  • Avenue of Rocks on Poison Spider Road west of Casper, WY
  • Independence Rock on the Sweetwater River in WY
  • Devils Gate on the Sweetwater River in WY
  • South Pass near South Pass, WY
  • Thompson Pass on Lander Road, WY
  • Massacre Rocks west of American Falls, ID on I-86
  • City of Rocks NP/Pinnacle Pass in Almo, ID
  • Grayback Hills Swale north of I-80, west of Grayback Hills in UT
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park, Nobles Road-Hwy 89 in northern California

Hiking access to extensive trail segments

  • South Pass Segment: Independence Rock to Parting of the Ways, 125 miles
  • South Pass near South Pass City, WY
  • Lander Road: LaBarge Creek Ranger Station to Smith's Fork, WY, approx. 10 miles
  • Bear River Divide Segment: US 189 to WY 89, 31 miles
  • Little Emigration Canyon: Mormon Flat to Big Mountain, 4.5 miles
  • Red Lake Pass to Carson Pass: Carson Route Hwy 88, CA

4x4 and horse access over extensive trail segments

  • Oregon Trail Road: Mills, WY to WYO-220 just north of Independence Rock, 41.5 miles
  • South Pass Segment: Independence Rock to Parting of the Ways, 125 miles
  • Lander Road: Burnt Ranch, WY to Fort Hall, ID, approx. 250 miles
  • Parting of the Ways: end of the South Pass segment
  • Bear River Divide Segment: US 189 to WY 89, 31 miles
  • Fort Bridger to Muddy Creek: approx. 14 miles
  • Skull Valley UT Segment: Timpi Spring to Aragonite Exit on I-80, approx. 45 miles
  • California Trail Backcountry Byway: Goose Creek to Hwy 93, in northeast NV, approx. 50 miles

Major Trail Museums

  • National Frontier Trails Center in Independence, MO
  • Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, IA
  • Chimney Rock NHS in Bridgeport, NE
  • Scotts Bluff NM in Gering, NE
  • National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper, WY
  • Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, UT

Auto Tour Route - Utah

Below are suggested driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route for the California National Historic Trail through Utah, from Idaho and Wyoming to Nevada:

From Idaho:

1. Take Interstate 15, or Interstate 84 south from Idaho.
2. Take Interstate 15 / 84 south to Salt Lake City.
3. Turn west onto Interstate 80 to the Nevada border.

From Wyoming:

1. Take Interstate 80 west to Interstate 84.
2. Turn west onto Interstate 84.
3. Take Interstate 84 west to State Route 65.
4. Turn southwest onto State Route 65.
5. Take SR 65 west to Interstate 80.
6. Turn west onto Interstate 80.
7. Continue west on Interstate 80 through Salt Lake City and the Nevada border.

Total original route miles in Utah (including alternate routes): 349

Auto Tour Route - Wyoming

Below are suggested driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route of the California National Historic Trail west through Wyoming, from Nebraska to Utah and Idaho:

To Utah:

1. Take U.S. Route 26 west to Interstate 25.
2. Turn north onto Interstate 25.
3. Take Interstate 25 west to State Route 220 at Casper.
4. Turn west onto State Route 220.
5. Take State Route 220 to U.S. Route 287.
6. Turn west onto U.S. Route 287.
7. Take U.S. Route 287 west to State Route 28.
8. Turn West onto State Route 28.
9. Take State Route 28 west to State Route 372.
10. Turn south onto State Route 372.
11. Take State Route 372 to Interstate 80.
12. Turn west onto Interstate 80 to the Utah border.

Northern Route to Idaho:

1. Take U.S. Route 26 west to Interstate 25.
2. Turn north onto Interstate 25.
3. Take Interstate 25 west to State Route 220.
4. Turn west onto State Route 220.
5. Take State Route 220 to U.S. Route 287.
6. Turn west onto U.S. Route 287.
7. Take U.S. Route 287 west to State Route 28.
8. Turn West onto State Route 28.
9. Take State Route 28 west to State Route 372.
10. Turn west onto 372.
11. Take State Route 372 west to U.S. Route 189.
12. Turn south onto U.S. Route 189 to U.S. Route 30.
13. Turn west on U.S. 30 towards Montpelier, ID.

Route through Ft. Bridger to Idaho:

1. Take U.S. Route 26 west to Interstate 25.
2. Turn north onto Interstate 25.
3. Take Interstate 25 west to State Route 220.
4. Turn west onto State Route 220.
5. Take State Route 220 to U.S. Route 287.
6. Turn west onto U.S. Route 287.
7. Take U.S. Route 287 west to State Route 28.
8. Turn southwest onto State Route 28.
9. Take SR 28 west to State Route 372.
10. Turn southeast onto State Route 372.
11. Take State Route 372 South to Interstate 80.
12. Turn west onto Interstate 80.
13. Take Interstate 80 west to State Route 412.
14. Turn South to Ft. Bridger, then back north onto SR 412.
15. Take SR 412 North to U.S. Route 189.
16. Turn north onto U.S. Route 189.
17. Take U.S. Route 189 north to U.S. Route 30.
18. Turn west onto U.S. Route 30 toward Montpelier, ID.

Total original route miles in Wyoming (including alternate routes): 1,088

Auto Tour Route - Idaho

Below are suggested driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route for the California National Historic Trail west through Idaho, from Wyoming to Utah & Nevada:

From Wyoming to Nevada:

1. Take U.S. Route 30 west to Interstate 15.
2. Turn north on Interstate 15.
3. Take Interstate 15 north to Interstate 86.
4. Turn west onto Interstate 86 at Pocatello.
5. Take Interstate 86 west to Interstate 84.
6. Turn south onto Interstate 84.
7.  Follow I-84 south to State Route 77.
8.  turn west on SR 77 to the City of Rocks Backcountry Byway.
9. Follow the COR Backcountry Byway to State Road 27.
10. Turn north on SR 27 to U.S. Route 30.
11. Follow U.S 30 west to U.S. Route 93.
12. Turn south on U.S 93 to the Nevada border.

From Wyoming to Utah:

1. Take U.S. Route 30 west to Interstate 15.
2. Turn north on Interstate 15.
3. Take Interstate 15 north to Interstate 86.
4. Turn west onto Interstate 86 at Pocatello.
5. Take Interstate 86 west to Interstate 84.
6. Turn south onto I-84.
7. Follow I-84 south to Interstate 15 and Salt Lake City.

Auto Tour Route - Nevada

Below are driving directions to follow the various Auto Tour Route segments for the California National Historic Trail west through Nevada, from Idaho and/or Utah to California:

From Idaho - Jackpot to Reno Route (becomes Truckee Route):

1. Take U.S. Route 93 south from Idaho to Interstate 80.
2. Turn west onto Interstate 80.
3. Take Interstate 80 west to the California border.

To follow the Beckwourth Trail cutoff north from Reno:

1. Take U.S. Route 93 south from Idaho to Interstate 80.
2. Turn west onto Interstate 80.
3. Take I-80 west U.S. Route 395.
4. Turn north onto U.S. Route 395 and into California.

To follow the trail through northwestern Nevada (becomes Applegate Trail):

             1. Take Interstate 80 west from Utah or Idaho to State Route 447.
             2. Turn north onto State Route 447 and follow into California.


To follow the trail through Carson City (becomes Carson Route):

1. Take Interstate 80 west from Utah or Idaho to U.S. Route 95.
2. Turn south onto U.S. Route 95.
3. Take U.S. Route 95 south to U.S. Route 50 at Fallon.
4. Turn west onto U.S. Route 50.
5. Take U.S. Route 50 west through Carson City and into California at Lake Tahoe.

To follow the southernmost route(becomes Walker River/Sonora Route):

1. Take Interstate 80 west from Utah to U.S. 95.
2. Turn south onto U.S. Route 95.
3. Take U.S. Route 95 south to U.S. Route 50.
4. Turn west onto U.S. Route 50 at Fallon.
5. Take U.S. Route 50 west to U.S. Route 395.
6. Turn south onto U.S. Route 395 at Carson City.
7. Turn south onto State Route 395 and follow into California.

Total original route miles in Nevada (including alternate routes): 1,136

Auto Tour Route - Oregon

Below are driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route for the California National Historic Trail north to Oregon, from California:

Applegate Route:

1. Take State Route 39 north to State Route 66.
2. Turn west onto State Route 66 at Klamath Falls.
3. Take State Route 66 west to Interstate 5.
4. Turn onto I-5 north at Ashland.
5. Take I-5 north to State Route 99 north at Eugene.
6. State Route 99 becomes State Route 99W.
7. Turn west onto Clow Corner Rd. and follow to Dallas and the trail's end.

Total original route miles in Oregon (including alternate routes): 424

Auto Tour Route - Kansas

Below are driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route for the California National Historic Trail west through Kansas, from Missouri to Nebraska:

From Kansas City, Missouri:

1. Take Interstate 435 south from Kansas City to State Route 10.
2. Turn west onto State Route 10.
3. Take State Route 10 west to U.S. Route 59.
4. Turn north onto State Route 59.
5. Take State Route 59 north to Interstate 70.
6. Turn west onto Interstate 70.
7. Take Interstate 70 to U.S. Route 40.
8. Turn west onto U.S. Route 40.
9. Take Interstate 40 west to Interstate 70.
10. Turn west onto Interstate 70.
11. Take Interstate 70 west to Exit 346 Willard Dover Rd.
12. Turn north onto Willard Dover Rd.
13. Take Willard Dover Rd. north to U.S. Route 24.
14. Turn west onto U.S. Route 24.
15. Take U.S. Route 24 west to State Route 99.
16. Turn north onto State Route 99.
17.Take State Route 99 north to State Route 9.
18. Turn west onto State Route 9.
19. Take State Route 9 west to U.S. Route 77.
20.Turn north onto State Route 77.
21. Take State Route 77 to U.S. Route 36.
22. Turn west onto U.S. Route 36.
23.Take U.S. Route 36 west to State Route 148.
24. Turn north onto State Route 148 into Nebraska.

From St. Joseph, Missouri:

1. Take U.S. Route 36 west to State Route 148.
2. Turn north onto State Route 148.


Total original route miles
in Kansas (including alternate routes): 290 

Auto Tour Route - California

Below are driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route(s) for the California National Historic Trail west into California, from Nevada. The various routes are listed north to south:

The Applegate Trail (to Oregon):

1. Take State Route 299 west through Alturas to State Route 139.
2. Turn west onto State Route 139 into Oregon.

The Nobles Trail:

1. Take State Route 299 west to U.S. Route 395 at Alturas.
2. Turn south onto U.S. Route 395.
3. Take U.S. Route 395 south to State Route 44.
4. Turn west onto State Route 44.
5. Take State Route 44 west to State Route A-17.
6. Turn west onto State Route A-17.
7. Take State Route A-17 west to Interstate 5.
8. Turn north onto Interstate 5.
9. Take Interstate 5 north to State Route 273.
10. Turn north onto State Route 273 to the trail's end at Shasta.

The Lassen Trail:

1. Take State Route 299 west to U.S. Route 395 at Alturas.
2. Turn south onto U.S. Route 395.
3. Take U.S. Route 395 south to State Route 36.
4. Turn west onto State Route 36.
5. Take State Route 36 west to State Route 32.
6. Turn south onto State Route 32.
7. Take State Route 32 south to State Route 99.
8. Turn north onto State Route 99 and proceed to trail's end at Vina.

The Beckwourth Trail:

1. Take U.S. Route 395 north to State Route 70.
2. Turn west onto State Route 70.
3. At Quincy, turn west onto Bucks Lake Rd.
4. Take Bucks Lake Rd. to the trail's end at Bidwell Bar.

The Truckee Route:

1. From Reno, NV, take Interstate 80 west to State Route 20.
2. Turn west onto State Route 20.
3. Take State Route 20 west to State Route 49.
4. Turn south onto State Route 49, which crosses the trail near the trail's end at Johnson's Ranch.

The Carson Route:

1. Take U.S. Route 50 west from Nevada to Sacramento and the trail's end.
2. Alternative: take state route 89 south from South Lake Tahoe on US 50 and then follow state road 88 west along the Carson River and over the Carson Pass to Jackson and Sacramento.

The Walker River/Sonora Route:

1. Take U.S. Route 395 south from Nevada to State Route 108.
2. Turn west onto State Route 108.
3. Take State Route 108 west to the trail's end at Sonora.

Total original trail miles in California (including alternate routes and cutoffs): 994

 

Auto Tour Route - Nebraska

Below are suggested driving directions to follow the Auto Tour Route for the California National Historic Trail through Nebraska, from east to west

To follow the trail north from Kansas State Route 148:

1. After crossing the state line on Kansas 243, the route becomes Nebraska SR112.
2. Follow it north to State Route 8, then west to Fairbury, NE.
3. In Fairbury, turn west onto U.S. Route 136
4. Take U.S. Route 136 west to State Route 5.
5. Turn north onto State Route 5.
6. Take State Route 5 north to State Route 4.
7. Turn west onto State Route 4.
8..Take State Route 4 west to State Route 14.
9. Turn north onto State Route 14.
10. Take State Route 14 north to State Route 74.
11. Turn west onto State Route 74.
12. Take State Route 74 west to U.S. Route 281.
13. Turn north onto U.S. Route 281.
14. Take U.S. Route 281 north to U.S. Route 6 / 34.
15. Turn west onto U.S. Route 6 / 34.
16. Take U.S. Route 6 / 34 west to State Route 10.
17. Turn north onto State Route 10.
18. Take State Route 10 north to local road 50A.
19. Turn west onto LR 50A to SR 44.
20. Turn north on SR 44 to Interstate 80.
21.Take Interstate 80 west to U.S. Route 385 at Sidney.
22. Turn north onto U.S. Route 385.
23. Take U.S. Route 385 north to SR 92.
24. Turn west onto SR 92 & U.S. 385.
25. Continue west on SR 92 to Gering and turn north on SR 71.
26. Turn west onto U.S. 26 to the Wyoming border.

Or to follow the northern cutoff:

21. Instead of taking Interstate 80 to U.S. Route 385, take Interstate 80 west to U.S. Route 26 at Ogallala.
22. Turn northwest onto U.S. Route 26.
23. Take U.S. Route 26 west to State Road 92.
24. Turn south onto SR 92.
25. Take SR 92 west to U.S. Route 26.
26. Continue west onto U.S. Route 26 to the Wyoming border.

To follow the trail from Nebraska City:

1. Take U.S. Route 75 north to State Route 1.
2. Turn west onto State Route 1.
3. Take SR 1 to State Route 63.
4. Turn north onto State Route 63.
5. Take SR 63 to U.S. Route 77.
6. Turn north onto U.S. Route 77.
7. Take U.S. Route 77 to State Route 92.
8. Turn west onto SR 92.
9. Take State Route 92 to U.S. Route 30.
10. Turn southwest onto U.S. Route 30.
11. Take U.S. Route 30 west to U.S. Route 26.
12. Turn west onto U.S. Route 26.
13. Take U.S. Route 26 west to State Route 92.
14. Turn south onto SR 92.
15. Take SR 92 west to State Route 71 at Gering.
16. Turn north onto State Route 71. T
17. Take State Route 71 north to U.S. Route 26.
18. Turn west onto U.S. Route 26 to the Wyoming border.

To follow the trail from Omaha:

1. Take Interstate 29 north to Interstate 680.
2. Turn west onto I-680.
3. Take I-680 west to U.S. Route 75.
4. Turn north onto U.S. Route 75.
5. Take U.S. Route 75 north to State Route 36.
6. Turn west onto State Route 36.
7. Take SR 36 west to U.S. Route 275.
8. Turn north onto U.S. Route 275.
9. Take U.S. Route 275 north to U.S. Route 30.
10. Take U.S. Route 30 west to U.S. Route 26.
11. Turn west onto U.S. Route 26.
12. Take U.S. Route 26 west to U.S. Route 92.
13. Turn west onto State Route 92.
14. Take SR 92 to State Route 71 at Gering.
15. Turn north onto SR 71.
16. Take SR 71 north to U.S. Route 26.
17. Turn west onto U.S. Route 26 to the Wyoming border.

Total original route miles in Nebraska (including alternate routes): 1,067

Auto Tour Route - Missouri

Below are driving directions to follow the auto tour route of the California National Historic Trail west from Missouri:

From St. Joseph, MO:

1. Take U.S. Route 36 west.

From Independence, MO:

1. Take U.S. Route 24 west to Interstate 435.
2. Turn south onto Interstate 435.
3. Take Interstate 435 west into Kansas.

Total original route miles in Missouri: 18

Trail Links & Resources for additional information.

National Park Service sites:

Homestead National Monument can suggest places to visit along the trail corridor or auto tour route in Nebraska:

  • Homestead National Monument

Route 3, Box 47
Beatrice, Nebraska 66310
Tel: 402-223-3514

  • Chimney Rock National Historic Site
    PO Box F
    Bayard, Nebraska 69334
    Tel: 308-586-2581
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument is a prominent natural landmark for emigrants on the Oregon and California Trails. It has a visitor center, museum and bookstore. You can also drive or hike to the summit and visit trail ruts.

    Scotts Bluff National Monument
    PO Box 27
    Gering, Nebraska 69341-0027
    Tel: 308-436-4340
  • Fort Laramie National Historic Site
    HC 72, Box 389
    Fort Laramie, Wyoming 82212
    Tel: 307-837-2221
  • The City of Rocks National Reserve is approximately ten miles of California Trail Corridor within the reserve. It can provide information on the California Trail in southern Idaho.

    City of Rocks National Reserve
    PO Box 169
    Almo, Idaho 83312
    Tel: 208-824-5519
  • The Nobles Emigrant Trail branch of the California Trail pass through Lassen Volcanic National Park, and the Lassen Trail is nearby. It has a visitor center, exhibits, hiking and a "Pioneers" interpretive program.

    Lassen Volcanic National ParkP.O. Box 100
    Mineral, California 96063-0100
    Tel: 916-595- 4444

Nearby Attractions

Trail Partners & Information Resources:

  • Utah Travel Council
  • Nevada Tourism
  • California Tourism
  • Wyoming Tourism
  • Nebraska Tourism
  • Kansas Tourism
  • Missouri Tourism

National Park Service Historic Trail Areas:

  • Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
  • Oregon National Historic Trail
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail

Other Interpretive Centers & Attractions:

  • Oregon & California Trails Association (816) 252-2276
  • The National Frontier Trails Center (816) 325-7575
  • The National Oregon/California Trails Center (866) 847-3800
  • The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (541) 523-1843

Auto Tour Route - Colorado

Below are driving directions to follow the California National Historic Trail west through Colorado, from Nebraska and back to Nebraska:

From western Nebraska through Julesburg, CO and westward toward Wyoming:

1. Take U.S. Route 138 west from Big Springs, NE through Julesburg, CO to U.S. Route 385.
2. Turn north onto U.S. Route 385 and follow into Nebraska to U.S. 30 west.

Total original route miles in Colorado: 16