Adventure Pass Weekends

Mountains, deserts, forests, rivers … the choice of where to visit is yours. California fourth graders and their families are encouraged to discover their California State Parks with the Adventure Pass, which provides free entry at 19 amazing state parks throughout the state – including locally at Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. 

To promote the Adventure Pass program, Empire Mine State Historic Park is hosting three family focused events (May 6, June 3, and September 9) designed to encourage families to visit the park and learn something new together through hands-on activities.

Kicking off the event series is Art in the Park on May 6th, a fun day of nature art. Enjoy the first days of spring with a picnic in the park, take a tour through our historic buildings, and learn what it takes to become a park ranger.

“These events allow the park to connect with our local community and engage families in new and fun ways,” explained Sam Bell, Park Interpretive Specialist at Empire Mine. “Having different themed events helps park staff to cater the experience to that theme which may include different perspectives or interactions than visitors may expect from a visit to Empire Mine.”

Empire Mine State Historic Park is the site of one of the oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California. In operation for more than 100 years, the mine extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold before it closed in 1956. The park contains many of the mine’s buildings, the owner’s home and restored gardens, as well as the entrance to 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mineshafts. The park encompasses 856 acres of forested backcountry and fourteen miles of trails.

The Adventure Pass encourages families to take a trip to 19 different state parks without the cost of entry being a barrier. In fourth grade, students learn about California history and access to parks, like Empire Mine, allow families to see this history firsthand. This Pass is valid for the one-year period during which the child is a 4th grader or 4th grade equivalent, from September 1 to August 31 of that year. Parents are required to obtain their Adventure Pass prior to coming into the park. All they need to do is go to or call (800) 444-7275 to sign up for their pass.

“One of my favorite moments to watch is how families discover and interact in the park together,” said Bell. “The sounds of discovery and excitement around being immersed in history is exciting to witness.”

As a special treat, visitors to Adventure Pass Family Day events will get to have a picnic lunch in the park enjoying our beautiful outdoor spaces.

Save the Date for Future Events

  • Outside Science
    • When: June 3, 2023 11:00am-3:00pm
    • Where: Empire Mine
    • What: What better place to learn about outdoor science like your local state park?
       See the park through a different lens with nature tours, hands-on science activities, and learn about the different ways our environmental scientists monitor the Park.
  • Innovation and Consequences at Empire Mine
    • When: September 9, 2023 11:00am-3:00pm
    • Where: Empire Mine
    • What: Nevada County has a rich history in hard rock mining with technological innovations and environmental consequences. Bring your thought provoking questions as we dive deep into the long-term effects of hard rock mining. 

WHO: California State Parks, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation and Nevada County Arts Council present

WHAT: Adventure Pass Weekends – Art in the Park, Outside Science, Innovation and Consequences

WHEN: Saturday, May 6th, 2023, June 3, September 9, 11am-3pm

WHERE: Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E. Empire Street, Grass Valley

INFO: Free for fourth graders and their families, or