With over 4,210 acres of both natural chapparal-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States. Situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, the Park's elevations range from 384 to 1,625 feet above see level. With an arid climate, the Park's plant communities vary from coastal sage scrub, oak and walnut woodlands to riparian vegetation with trees in the Park's deep canyons. The California native plants represented in Griffith Park include the California species of oak, walnut, lilac, mountain mahagony, sages, toyon, and sumac. Present, in small quantities, are the threatened species of manzanita and berberis.
Over the years recreational attractions have been developed throughout the Park, however an amazingly large portion of the Park remains virtually unchanged from the days Native American villages occupied the area's lower slopes. Today's Griffith Park offers numerous family attractions, an assortment of educational and cultural institutions, and miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, and provides visitors an ideal environment for enjoyable recreation activities.
" It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people," Griffith said on that occasion. " I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered."
Since Griffith's original gift, further donations of land, along with City purchases and the reversion of private land to public domain have expanded the Park to its present size. Col. Griffith died July 7, 1919, however, he had left a sizeable trust fund to complete the dreams he had for the park; specifically designating funds for the construction of a Greek amphitheater (the Greek Theatre, built 1930) and an observatory and hall of science (Griffith Observatory, built 1935.)
Griffith Park stands today a monument to the dedicated vision of one man--Griffith Jenkins Griffith, Park Commission, civic philanthropist, advocate of parklands, and fervent speaker of recreation for the health of Los Angeles.
Griffith Park is open to the public from 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bridle trails, hiking paths, and mountain roads are closed at sunset. The speed limit on all park roads is 25 mph and is strictly enforced. Brush fires present a definite safety hazard, especially from Spring to early Fall, when the natural chaparral and underbrush is very dry. Open fires are prohibited; barbecue pits are provided free of charge at picnic areas. In case of emergency in the park, notify the Ranger Station at (323) 913-4688 or dial 911. The Griffith Park Fire Recovery Blog offers updated park information.
Griffith Park lies just west of the Golden State Freeway (I-5), roughly between Los Feliz Boulevard on the south and the Ventura Freeway (SR 134) on the north. Freeway off-ramps leading to the park from I-5 are Los Feliz Boulevard, Griffith Park (direct entry) and Zoo Drive. Approaching the park on SR 134 eastbound, take either the Forest Lawn Drive or Victory Boulevard offramps. From SR 134 westbound, take Zoo Drive or Forest Lawn Drive. After leaving freeways, follow the signs into the park.