A service brought to you by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

Los Angeles River Parks
Egret Park
Elysian Valley Gateway Park
Great Heron Gates at
Rattlesnake Park

Oso Park
Steelhead Park
Los Angeles River Greenway

Los Angeles River
Visitor Center

The Los Angeles River Visitor Center is an exhibit hall that celebrates the eleven miles of natural river where reeds, willows, mulefat and native riparian plants have returned. The exhibit describes the history of the Los Angeles River, its current status, and a vision for the river’s future.

The Visitor Center is located in the California Building at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. On weekends the exhibit is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., however, the exhibit may be closed to the public during private events at the River Center. The exhibit is self-guided.


River Organization Links
The Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council
Rivers and Mountains Conservancy
Friends of the Los Angeles River
North East Trees
National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
Los Angeles Conservation Corps
ArtShare LA
Audubon Society (local)
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
City of Los Angeles Ad-Hoc Committee
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Watershed Management
Regional Water Quality Control Board
Coastal Conservancy

River Park Projects
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority are actively involved in creating new parks along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries. Planned improvements for a park at the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco include picnicking facilities, native landscaping, a water feature, and amenities for bicyclers and pedestrians. In Lincoln Heights, plans are underway to create a park that would provide access to the Arroyo Seco Bikeway.

Along Compton Creek, an area of Los Angeles that is largely devoid of park space, planned improvements include native riparian landscaping, habitat restoration, and construction of an outdoor amphitheater. In the San Fernando Valley, plans are in the works to create a natural stream on the banks of Tujunga Wash. The project will divert water from the wash, transporting it up to the western bank to create a mile-long meandering stream with native riparian habitat.

Just downstream from the Great Heron Gates in Elysian Valley, a five-acre property provides over 700 feet of river frontage adjacent to a natural streambed portion of the Los Angeles River. This large parcel will be developed as a public park with a variety of activities and restoration of native habitat. Adjacent to the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena, the Conservancy is working with the City of South Pasadena to transform a neglected lot into usable park space and habitat. The park will retain a natural character, utilizing native arroyo stone for seating and other amenities.


The Los Angeles River, formed by a large watershed that drains the Santa Susana Mountains, the San Fernando Valley, and the San Gabriel Mountains, played an important part in the geological formation of the Los Angeles basin. Areas adjacent to the river comprised riparian ecosystems with a myriad of native plant and animal species. The rivers’ periodic floods provided rich sedimentary deposits across the floodplains. Today, no part of the Los Angeles River remains in a native state; every reach of the river has been altered and engineered. No longer able to recharge the earth it passes over, the Los Angeles River discharges its water unimpeded and unused into the Pacific Ocean.

The Los Angeles River provided food, water, shelter and sustenance to human beings for thousands of years. Before the first Spanish explorers arrived with Portolás’ 1769 expedition, the river sustained a thriving population of indigenous peoples. The Tongva dwelt in a large settlement along the river’s banks. This settlement, known as Yangna, was a movable village near the river, relocating as the river flooded or dried up with the changing seasons and dry or wet years. The Tongva called the river otcho’o, pa-hyt or wenoot and utilized it daily by harvesting reeds to provide material for housing and clothing, hunting and fishing on its shores, and using its water. Father Crespí, writing in his journal during the 1769 Portola expedition, named the river El Rio de Porciuncula de Los Angeles. After Spanish settlement and the establishment of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora, la Reina de los Angeles (the Town of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels) in 1781, the Tongva were forcibly relocated to the San Gabriel Mission.

The Los Angeles River was critical to the founding of Los Angeles, and the town became a thriving farming community, growing corn, wheat, grapes and orchard fruits irrigated by the Los Angeles River and its tributary streams. Because the river’s flows varied from a gentle trickle to violent, debris-laden floods, the Los Angeles River never cut a deep channel like many other rivers. The river flowed over a wide area of braided channels and meanders and changed its path to the Pacific Ocean. As Los Angeles grew, development occurred all along the river’s natural floodplain. Numerous catastrophic floods caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stabilize the river in the late 1930s by constructing concrete walls to contain flood waters.


Creating A Healthy Environment
After decades of ignoring the river, an intense planning effort has begun to revitalize the Los Angeles River and its surroundings. Parks and greenways have been developed through a concerted effort by citizens' groups, local governments, and state agencies. A primary goal of the park development is the reestablishment of wetlands and wildlife habitat and development of areas for recreational uses. Several vacant lots and brownfield sites have already been converted to parks, located in some of Los Angeles’ most underserved communities. Many more parks are planned along the Los Angeles River Greenway. The location of new parks along the river’s edge will aid in cleansing urban stormwater runoff, create additional wildlife habitat near the water, and improve air quality for nearby residents and Greenway users.



September 30 - Summer Programs, King Gillette Ranch
September 30 - Summer Programs, Rocky Peak Park
September 30 - Summer Programs, Ballona Creek Trail and Bike Path
September 30 - Summer Programs, Pico Canyon
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