Covering more than 4,210 acres in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, Griffith Park is the United States' largest municipal park with an urban wilderness area. Its chaparral-covered terrain, landscaped parkland and numerous recreation areas range in elevation from 384 to 1,625 feet above sea level. Here, visitors can enjoy the abundance of nature, including coastal sage scrub, oak and walnut woodlands, riparian vegetation, and California native plants, such as lilac, mountain mahogany, toyon and sumac.
The park was named after its original owner, gold-speculator Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who obtained the Rancho Los Feliz as part of the Spanish land grant. In December 1896, he bequeathed 3,015 acres of his estate to the people of Los Angeles as a Christmas gift to be used as parkland.
Over the years, numerous recreational attractions have been developed in Griffith Park, not the least of which being the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The park is also home to an amphitheater called the Greek Theatre, which was built 1930, and an observatory and hall of science, the Griffith Observatory, constructed in 1935. Other attractions here include the Museum of the American West (aka Autry National Center), Griffith Merry-Go-Round, Griffith Park Southern Railroad, Travel Town (a railway museum), the Ferndell Nature Museum, a bird sanctuary, and the famed Hollywood Sign.
For those who enjoy outdoor camping, Griffith Park has two sites available. Hollywoodland Camp occupies 55 acres overlooking Hollywood Hills, conducting weekly, weekend, and parent-child sleepover camps for girls aged 6~17. Camp sessions include swimming, crafts, hiking, campfire singing, and horseback riding. Meanwhile, Griffith Park on Spur Road has organized camping on weekends and holidays for boys aged 7~14. During unscheduled periods, organized groups of 50 or more may rent these campsites, too.
For golfers, there are two 18-hole, par-72 courses within Griffith Park - the Harding Municipal Golf Course and the Wilson Municipal Golf Course, both located on Crystal Springs Drive. For those who prefer not to play a full round, there is the 9-hole, par-33 Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course on North Vermont Avenue along with the special Los Feliz Municipal Golf Course on Los Feliz Boulevard, which features only par-3 holes.
Three sets of tennis courts are available for use in Griffith Park. The Griffith-Riverside Courts and Vermont Courts require reservations and charge an hourly fee. The free Griffith Park Drive Courts are open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a one set limit whenever others are waiting.
Horseback riding is permitted within the park boundaries on specially marked trails and on fire and patrol roads. The L.A. Equestrian Center can be found on Riverside Drive. Privately owned stables are located near the park's northwestern and southwestern boundaries, and pony rides and miniature covered wagon rides are available on an oval track at the Los Feliz entrance. All trails close at sunset.
Jogging, hiking, cycling and picnicking are popular activities enjoyed by visitors to Griffith Park, too. Although open fires are prohibited, barbecue pits are available free of charge. Children's playgrounds are located in Park Center off Griffith Park Drive as well as various locations near picnic ground around the park. There are also sports areas set aside for soccer, badminton, baseball, and softball. And "The Plunge," Griffith Park's swimming pool, is open during the summer months at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard.
Griffith Park is situated just west of the Golden State Freeway (I-5), between Los Feliz Boulevard on the south and the Ventura Freeway (SR-134) on the north. The address is 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, California 90027. The park is open to the public daily from 5am to 10:30pm, and ample free parking is provided. Please note that the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit on all park roads is strictly enforced.