Just a few minutes outside of San Jose, you'll find a place to explore 100 million years of history. Alum Rock Park, created in 1872 as the first municipal park in California, offers both ancient rocks and new geologic changes (and lots of nice trails and wildlife, too). Despite its longevity and proximity to a populous urban area, it remains one of the less-visited jewels in the Bay Area's crown.
Special thanks to the City of San Jose’s Alum Rock Park Staff, and to YSI Staff John Harshman, Dorothy (DJ) Johnson, Bonnie LeMat and Susanne Mulcahy for their participation in this Exploration.
This Exploration created in collaboration with the Exploratorium.
Robin Marks and Lauren Sommer contributed to this Exploration.
16240 Penitencia Creek Road
San Jose, CA 95127 map
The lush Penitencia Creek, which bisects the Park, flows year-round. Once home to the Ohlone Indians, Alum Rock Park features rugged ridges with spectacular views of the Santa Clara Valley, geologic formations including mineral springs and evidence of seismic events, and a variety of native flora and fauna.
Park hours are daily from 8am until one-half hour after sunset.
Youth Science Institute
Founded in Alum Rock Park in 1953, Youth Science Institute provides year-round school and public programs and interpretive services in the Park, thanks to a long-term partnership with the City of San Jose.
YSI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that partners with nature to teach science to 33,000 pre-school through 12th grade students throughout Silicon Valley each year. YSI school programs, after-school programs, and summer camps fill the gap that is present in science education today to inspire in students enthusiasm for science and love of learning, to develop the critical thinking skills they need for academic success, and to forge connections with nature that foster their personal health and earth stewardship.
YSI has two additional Science and Nature Centers at Sanborn Park in Saratoga and Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos. Each Center is open to the public and features live animals and interactive exhibits, as well as year-round programs.
16260 Penitencia Creek Road
San Jose, CA 95127
Open All Year, Tuesday – Sunday, 12:00 noon – 4:00 PM or by appointment.
(Closed on Sunday from October-April)