Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site was established to preserve the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder to this and future generations of the fragility of American civil liberties.

In 1942 the U.S. Army leased 6,200 acres at Manzanar from Los Angeles to establish a center to hold Japanese Americans during World War II. Though some valley residents opposed the construction of the internment camp, others helped build it and worked here. Among these were a few Owens Valley Paiute whose own families had been exiled earlier from these lands.

The town of Manzanar—the Spanish word for “apple orchard”—developed as an agricultural settlement beginning in 1910. Farmers grew apples, pears, peaches, potatoes, and alfalfa on several thousand acres surrounding the town.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the site on their own. Although cars and bicycles are restricted to the tour road, visitors are free to explore the entire site on foot. Explorers can visit ten excavations of rock gardens and ponds as well as Merritt Park the camp’s community garden, the chicken ranch, the orchards, or any of the other features of the site not on the main tour road.

 Manzanar lies in the heart of the Owens Valley of Eastern California. This area is rich in layers of human history as well as being dramatically beautiful. Bordered on the west by the Sierra Nevada, boasting Mt. Whitney – the highest peak in the contiguous United States – and on the east by the Inyo/White Mountain range, this is the deepest valley in the country. Activities abound for anyone interested in exploring a diverse landscape.

“I would recommend anyone who cares about learning from our past mistakes go visit this site.  It’s a story that many don’t know about.  An important part of US history that shouldn’t be forgotten,” Sarah K of San Rafael, CA, posted on Yelp.

“Heartbreaking, sobering, and absolutely worth a visit,” posted another Yelp reviewer Gwynnie D of San Francisco, CA.

The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Manzanar is a free site and does not collect an entrance fee.

Directions to Manzanar National Historic Site

San Francisco, CA to Manzanar NHS (~338 miles) – through Yosemite National Park Take I-80 east towards Oakland for 7 miles. Take I-580 east towards Hayward/Stockton for 46 miles. Continue on I-205 east towards Stockton/Tracy for 13.5 miles. Take I-5 north for 2 miles. Take CA-120 exit towards Manteca/Sonora for 6 miles. Take CA-99 north for 1.5 miles. Exit on Yosemite Ave/CA-120. Turn on Yosemite Ave which becomes CA-120. Continue on Yosemite Ave for 11 miles. Continue on CA-120 for 143.5 miles. Turn on US-395 south for 110 miles. Manzanar is on the west side of US-395, 5 miles south of Independence, CA. Note: US-120 is closed in winter and spring. Use Highway 88, US-50, or I-80.