Happy Earth Day! 6 places to celebrate in California this weekend

Marsh Park

Earth Day idea: Learn the history and future of the L.A. River at Marsh Park on Saturday.

(Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Earth Day is officially marked every April 22 -- and there are lots of ways to celebrate.

You can volunteer at a community cleanup, take family and friends on a nature hike, check out a green festival or learn how to plant a native garden.

Here are six things to do this weekend (almost all are free) in California that can help connect you to the outdoors and put you in a planet-loving mood.

--National parks: Entrance to national parks are free through Sunday in honor of National Park Week. It’s a good weekend to load up the car and head to a park -- without having to pay the $25-plus admission usually charged at Joshua Tree or Yosemite.


--L.A. River: Learn the history and future plans for L.A.'s channelized waterway in a presentation titled “Reimagining the Future of Our River” at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Saturday. Presentations last about 30 minutes; the event is free and open to the public. Marsh Park, 2999 Rosanna St., Los Angeles; (310) 858-7272, ext. 131

--Yosemite National Park: Visitors can enjoy a free Earth Day Festival that includes ranger demonstrations, games and a salute to the 150th anniversary of the California state park ranger. You can also grab a free shuttle into the park from Merced and Fresno too. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

--Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks: Junior Ranger events provide an opportunity for kids to promise to “explore, learn and protect” national parks. In Grant Grove, Junior Rangers explore the big trees (particularly the Grant Tree) at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and help kids earn a Tree Friend certificate. Kids also will receive a badge at Giant Forest by participating in special activities at 10, 11 and 1 p.m. Saturday.

Descanso Gardens

Get an early-morning workout in an Earth Day 5K/10K run Sunday at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)


--Descanso Gardens: Run a flower-lined route around Descanso Gardens before it opens to the public at the Earth Day 5K/10K run. You could stop to smell the native plants and watch the ducks at the woodland pond in the fun runs that start at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Entry costs $45. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge.

--Ocean Institute: Earth Day activities runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. You can take native plant garden tours, learn how to build your own butterfly garden and participate in a buy-one, give-one native plant sale (for each plant you buy, a second plant goes to the Ocean Institute).


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