Prairie City SVRA
Welcome to Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area!
Visiting Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area
Prairie City is situated at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills, 20 miles east of downtown Sacramento and three miles south of U.S. 50. The area offers off-highway vehicle enthusiasts a variety of interesting terrain and trails for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and 4-wheel drive vehicles. There are flat, open grasslands, rolling hills with native blue oak trees, and acres of cobbled mine tailings left after gold dredges combed ancient river beds in search of gold during the late 1800s. Beginners, as well as experts, find a variety of terrain both challenging and enjoyable.
Prairie City SVRA takes its name from the gold rush community that was located just northeast of the present-day park. Today, the only reminders of that 1850s community are some old mine tailings and a historical marker, California Historical Landmark #464, which is located at the intersection of Prairie City Road and U.S. 50.
Aerojet General Corporation purchased the southern portion of this property in the early 1960s to build and test rocket engines for the U.S. Government. No actual rocket testing took place after Congress cut program funding. Remnants of the park's space-age past include a test pit south of the present day-use staging area and a dome-shaped building known as the "moon room" located next to the park office.
In 1972, Roy and Mary McGill leased 435 acres of the present park site from Aerojet General Corporation and created a motorcycle riding and competition facility called McGills Cycle Park. Sacramento County purchased the area in 1975 with the assistance of the State Off-Highway Vehicle Grants Program. An additional 401 acres was purchased in 1976 with State Off-Highway Vehicle Funds, bringing the total acreage to 836. Sacramento County managed the park until July 1988 when the operation was turned over to the Off-Highway Vehicle Division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Today, a wide range of birds and other wildlife reside in the area. The open grasslands attract golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, kestrels, and an occasional prairie falcon. Oak trees and brushy areas provide shelter for quail, wild turkeys, and pheasants. Lewis' woodpeckers, acorn woodpeckers, and northern flickers can often be seen on the blue oaks. Deer are often seen in the morning or evening hours when they come out to graze, and coyotes are also seen occasionally.
Recreational Land Management
Providing long-term sustained OHV recreation opportunity is a top priority in SVRA Management. Provisions in California law require actions to stabilize soils and to provide for healthy wildlife populations in OHV recreation areas. Sites exist throughout the SVRA which have become eroded. There are projects ongoing to stabilize eroded areas by reshaping slopes, and by reseeding and replanting bare areas. Vegetation creates wildlife habitat while plant roots help stabilize the soil. Project areas are temporarily closed to OHV use through the use of barriers, such as fences, hay bales, brush piles and signing. Where possible, well designed OHV trails are immediately provided through project areas. Other project areas may be closed for a number of years before being again opened for OHV use. Your understanding and support in staying out of areas closed for restoration help ensure OHV recreation opportunities for years to come.
Guided Vernal Pool Walks
Known for big races and it's riding, Prairie City SVRA also has a different side of the park that few ever get to see. Known as the Vernal Pool Management Area, this location is used to help educate the public about a little known resource that is endangered throughout the state. Vernal pools are a temporary body of water that serves many purposes for wildlife. It is a home for insects and ancient crustaceans, it provides water for birds who are traveling from North to South on their migrations, and it is a central location to find many native plants of California.
Each year, Park Interpretive staff host a walk into this area to show the wildlife and to inform guests about another very important role that this area contributes to. To find out more about tours please contact, 916-985-5901.
- All Star Karting LLC (Go-Kart Race Track)
- Armstrong Racing, LLC (Motocross race track operation)