Will Rogers State Historic Park is the former estate of American humorist Will Rogers. It lies in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, in the Pacific Palisades area. The park features a lawn for picnic and recreational sports, a polo field, horse stables, informational tours of the ranch house, riding and hiking trails. Although the Inspiration Point Loop, which basically circles the Park is nothing more than a leisurely stroll, the ~67 mile long Backbone Trail, which traverses the Santa Monica Mountains in their entire length, terminates (or starts) at Will Rogers State Historic Park, thus making it a destination for the more serious hiker or backpacker.
Will Rogers, the cowboy humorist, actor, radio personality and social critic, started out as a trick roper in Wild West carnivals. When he moved on to the stage with the Ziegfeld Follies, he started telling folksy, homespun stories to fill out his rope act (and cover up when a rope trick didn't quite work the way he wanted). He went on to become first a major Broadway star, then a silent movie star, and eventually, the most popular radio personality of his time. His witty, common sense observations about life & politics earned him the adulation of the masses.
Will Rogers (from www.parks.ca.gov)
Rogers was the first comedian to ever tell a joke about a President while that President (Herbert Hoover) was in the audience... and he got a laugh. He was widely quoted as having said "I never met a man I didn't like". Will Rogers once said of Los Angeles: "It's a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there." True to his word, Will Rogers was one of the first celebrities to live in Beverly Hills; he helped the city defeat an annexation move by Los Angeles, and was elected the first mayor of Beverly Hills. But he bought this property in 1922 - at the height of his career- and after 1928, Will Rogers moved permanently to his hilltop ranch in Pacific Palisades, a few miles west of Beverly Hills.
Located just above Sunset Boulevard (before it reaches the ocean), about half way between the San Diego Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway, up amidst the hills and canyons, the ranch isn't exactly on the beaten path. It's a long, winding drive up through some beautiful California canyon country to reach the Will Rogers estate. This park was Rogers' ranch and home from 1924 until his death in 1935, where he lived with his wife Betty and their three children, Will, Jr., Mary, and James. He picked a beautiful spot for his home, a rustic hideaway in a virtual forest of towering trees, which captures a bit of the Old West right here in Los Angeles. It's a woodsy, 186-acre retreat with corrals, horses, hiking and riding trails, polo fields, rugged canyons & hillsides, splendid panoramic views, tennis courts, picnic areas, and of course Will Rogers' own unconventional ranch house. When his widow, Betty, died in 1944, the ranch became a state park.
Inspiration Point Loop:
This hike is a two-mile loop that starts and finishes at Will Rogers' home. The trail overlooks the Los Angeles Basin from downtown to the ocean. The main trail is a reasonably short, wide horse path made of soft earth and fallen leaves, framed by rows of sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees. It leads gradually up around a winding hill to the north of the Rogers house, the views below improving with each step. At the top, at Inspiration Point, the view below is breathtaking - a fabulous, sweeping vista framed by forested canyon hillsides; from distant office towers of West Los Angeles all the way to the blue Pacific ocean. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and beyond. It is, without doubt, one of the finest views in Los Angeles.
The Backbone Trail System is a long distance trail extending about 67 miles across the length of the Santa Monica Mountains in the U.S. state of California. Its western terminus is Point Mugu State Park and its eastern terminus is Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades. The trail is open to hikers throughout its length; mountain bicyclists and horseback riders are allowed on suitable portions of the trail as posted.
The Will Rogers Polo Club plays polo every weekend from April to October. Riding Lessons are available on Monday through Saturday; Equestrians are welcome to bring their horses to the park for day-use to enjoy the riding and roping arena, Sarah's Point, and the trail to Inspiration Point. Will Rogers Trail Rides provide guided trail rides on safe, reliable horses on the beautiful trails of Will Rogers State Historic Park. You will experience the park in the way Will Rogers used to love to experience it, on horseback. Will Rogers guided trail rides are available every day except Mondays. Tuesday through Fridays you can book a private guided ride by calling 310-662-3707 or go online at http://www.willrogerstrailrides.com more information.
Ranch House Tours:
Park staff and docents offer tours of the Ranch House Thursdays and Fridays, at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm. Ranch House tours on Saturday and Sunday are from 10 am to 4pm, on the top of the hour. School group tours and special group tours: Thursday and Fridays at 10 am. For more information call the Park Interpretive Staff at (310) 454-8212, ext. 103.
Park open daily: 8 AM to dusk. The ranch house is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Polo matches are usually held on Saturdays from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m., and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. (unless it rains.), from April through October. The Annual Wild West Show is usually held on a Sunday in March, at around noon. There is a "day use" (admission) fee, which includes parking.
The park is located in the hills above western Sunset Boulevard, about midway between Pacific Coast Highway (on the west) and the San Diego Freeway on the west. From the San Diego Freeway, take the Sunset Boulevard exit, and follow curvy Sunset Boulevard west (about four and a half miles) to Will Rogers State Park Road. Watch for the signs near the entrance. Then turn right, onto Will Rogers State Park Road, a small, steep, winding road which leads directly to the park gates. On weekends the parking lot is usually full, so you need to park on the road outside the entrance.