Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

Amador County, California

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park makes a wonderful low elevation camping destination. The museum, early Miwuk grinding rocks, and a recreated Indian village make the park a great place for children and adults to learn about MiWuk culture.

sign at entrance to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

The park's south trail is a self-guided nature loop. The park is home to a variety of birds, deer, fox, bobcats, and an occasional mountain lion or bear. Indian Grinding Rock is located off Highway 88 near Pine Grove, 12 miles east of Jackson on the Pine Grove - Volcano Road.
Park Office: (209) 296-7488
Park Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Park Fees

Entrance per Vehicle: $8
Camping per Night: $30 ($35 during holiday weekends)

Indian Grinding Rock Attractions

Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum

Indian Grinding Rock State Park museum

The architecture of the museum reflects a traditional roundhouse. Inside, view collections of Sierra Nevada Indian artifacts and various interpretive exhibits. The collection includes artifacts from various tribes of the region. See examples of basketry, arrowpoints, and tools.
Museum Hours: Friday through Monday 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Replica Miwok Village and Roundhouse

The Miwok village and roundhouse are located in the center of the small valley that contains the state park. The village includes bark houses, acorn granaries, a game field and the Ceremonial Round House.

grinding rock at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

Grinding Rock

Chaw’se is the Miwok word for grinding rock – a broad slab of stone where the Miwok people ground acorns and other seeds into meal. The continuous grinding eventually created the cup-shaped depressions in the stone that you see today. Along with the mortar holes, the main grinding rock within the park also features a number of decorative carvings: circles, spoked wheels, animal and human tracks, wavy lines, etc. Some of these carvings are thought to as much as two or even three thousand years old and are now becoming difficult to see. This association of rock art and bedrock mortar pits is unique in California. Except for one other small site, Chaw’se has the only known occurrence of mortars intentionally decorated with petroglyphs.

Native American Craft Demonstrations

On the second Saturday of every month you can watch as Native American Jack Flores performs traditional craft making skills such as basket weaving and flint knapping. Please call the museum for more information.

Native American Ceremonies

Several times a year Native American ceremonies are held in the roundhouse. One of the most important of these is Big Time, a gathering of Indian families on the weekend after the fourth Friday in September. Spectators are welcome to attend. Enjoy dancing, hand games, singing, and storytelling. Indian crafts and foods are available. (Please ask permission before taking pictures of Native Americans.)

Picnic Areas

At Indian Grinding Rock State Park there are both family picnic sites and a group site. A group picnic area with a shade ramada near the grinding rock can accommodate large groups (up to 150 persons). Reservations for the area are not accepted. A small family-type picnic area is located next to the museum.


Hiking at Indian Grinding Rock

South Nature Trail

Distance: 0.5 mile loop, level trail
Elevation Changes: minor

South Nature Trail is a self-guided interpretive path keyed to a park pamphlet. As you tour meadowland, oak woods, plus stands of sugar pine and ponderosa pine, you’ll learn how the Miwok collected and used the bountiful local vegetation.

North Trail

Distance: 1 mile loop, easy trail
Elevation Changes: minor

North Trail begins near the museum. It follows a low ridge and loops back to the reconstructed Miwok village. At the village, you can join South Nature Trail or return to the museum via a more direct route past the ceremonial roundhouse.


Indian Grinding Rock State Park Campground

The campground is open from mid-March to September 30.

Campground Amenities

  • 22 camp sites for tents, trailers and RVs up to 27 feet
  • Flush toilets, showers, piped water, picnic tables, fire rings, food locker
  • Museum, interpretive trails, reconstructed Miwok village, special events

Reservations: Indian Grinding Rock SHP Campground Resrvations
Fees: $30 per night for 8 people and 1 vehicle, $28 for seniors; $35 on holiday weekends
Indian Grinding Rock State Park Map

Environmental Living Group Camping

Groups up to 44 may reserve the cluster of seven bark houses for an opportunity to experience life much as the Miwuk Indians may have. Each bark house is suitable for up to six people. Camping conditions are primitive. Campers must haul water to the site and carry all their supplies at least 200 yards fromthe parking area.

Campground Amenities

  • 1 Group site
  • Picnic tables, fire rings, amphitheater style group campfire. Water and vault toilets nearby.
  • Museum, interpretive trails, reconstructed Miwok village, special events

Reservations: (209) 296-7488 or Environmental Living Group Camping Reservations
Fees: $85 per night