Prairie City SVRA

Update (Jan. 29, 2021): With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted, State Parks is reopening campground sites for existing reservation holders. The department will be using a phased approach to reopen other campground sites for new reservations, starting January 28. The public is advised that not all campground sites are open to the public due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.

As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.

Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for this park unit.

What is open now?
  • Main entrance.
  • Kids Track.
  • Main Staging Area.
  • ATV and MX Practice Tracks.
  • Obstacle Area.
  • 4X4 Track and Staging Area.
  • Zones 1, 2 and 3 riding trails.
  • Concessions, including the PCMX Track and the Kart Track (open for practice/training sessions).
  • Quarter Midget Track (open for practice/training sessions).

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this park:
  • Mini MX Track (AX Track).
  • Environmental Training Center (open for training sessions by special event permit only).
  • Sector Office.
  • All special events including the upcoming Hangtown Motocross Classic 2021. Due to the dynamic and fluid nature of the ongoing pandemic, the event has been postponed until further notice.
Statewide:
  • Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead
    • The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
    • SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.

California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Welcome to Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area!

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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.

OHV imageIn 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.

Notice! Exciting changes are in the works.

 Prairie City SVRA re-vegetation project announcement - 4x4 Area temporary closure

 

The above map of Prairie City SVRA shows the 4X4 Re-vegetation project area, which is highlighted in yellow. This area will be temporarily closed for obstacle improvements and vegetation rehabilitation. During construction the area will be temporarily fenced until vegetation is established. The construction process will include placing excavated material from the sediment basins on the hillside to fill in eroded routes, grading and installing straw wattles, and hydro seeding the area.

The map below shows 4X4 Re-vegetation project in greater detail. Three routes will be left open while vegetation is establishing so 4X4s will still have access up and down the hill. The existing gully route to the left will be modified and rock-lined in order to armor it and prevent further erosion while also creating a new and exciting rock crawling obstacle. The stair climb obstacle will be refreshed by shifting existing rocks to make it more challenging and the dirt route beside it will also be improved. Rip rap will added to the roadside ditch along the western edge of the project area and the northern portion will be graded and maintained for special event parking. If you have further questions you can contact (916) 985-5662.

 

4x4 area re-vegetation detail map.

 

Additional Visitor Services
    • All Star Karting LLC (Go-Kart Race Track)
    • Armstrong Racing, LLC (Motocross race track operation)