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Fodor's Southern California 2014
Will Rogers State Historic Park and Museum
Will Rogers State Historic Park and Museum Review
The humorist, actor, and rambling cowboy Will Rogers lived on this site in the 1920s and 1930s. His ranch house, a folksy blend of Navajo rugs and Mission-style furniture, has become a museum featuring Rogers memorabilia.
The park's broad lawns are excellent for picnicking, and there's hiking on miles of eucalyptus-lined trails. A new visitor center with displays of the park's history and a bookstore is in the works. Free weekend games are scheduled April–October, weather permitting.
Who knows how many of Will Rogers' famed witticisms came to him while he and his wife hiked or rode horses along the Inspiration Point Trail from their ranch, now part of the park.
The point is on a detour off the lovely 2-mi loop, which you pick up right by the riding stables beyond the parking lot ($12 per car). On a clear (or even just semiclear) day, the panorama is one of L.A.'s widest and most "wow" inducing, from the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains in the distant east to the Oz-like cluster of downtown L.A. skyscrapers to Catalina Island looming off the coast to the southwest.
If you're looking for a longer trip, the top of the loop meets up with the 65-mi Backbone Trail, which connects to Topanga State Park.
At the museum, a short film presented in the visitor center highlights his roping technique and homey words of wisdom. Rogers was a polo enthusiast, and in the 1930s, his ranch house reopened in 2006 for docent-led tours. Featuring Rogers' stuffed practice calf and the high ceiling he raised so he could practice his famed roping style indoors, this house also holds and impression array of Navajo rugs, saddles, and Mission-style furniture. Rogers was a polo enthusiast, and in the 1930s, his front-yard polo field attracted such friends as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for weekend games.
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