Fresno’s Woodward Park is a classic, great city park, providing Fresno residents and visitors with a beautiful destination for exercise, cultural events, and ways to reconnect with nature.
With a large lake, ponds, and forested areas, including a redwood glen, this 300-acre urban oasis along the south bank of the San Joaquin River is the largest of Fresno’s 80 parks. Much of the parkland is the onetime estate of Ralph Woodward, the son of early Fresno civic leader and banker Oscar James Woodward.
The park is a place to be as active or relaxed as you want to be. Many families come out to Woodward Park for picnics and barbecues. There are two cross-country courses, one 5,000 meters and the other 10,000 meters, and trails at the park connect to the Lewis S. Eaton Trail System along the San Joaquin River Parkway. Woodward Park is also a birding hotspot thanks to its many species, including colorful wood ducks and even the occasional bald eagle.
Daredevil riders love to catch air and take on the banked corners at the Woodward Park BMX course, while mountain bikers of all levels can challenge themselves along the downhill and jumps at the Woodward Mountain Bike Skills Progression Park. Others come to Woodward for the more mellow pleasures of a round of 18 holes at the wooded and hilly Woodward Legacy Disc Golf Course.
Many locals also head to the park for concerts and performances at the 3,500-seat Rotary Amphitheater, an intimate, open-air venue with both covered seating and lawn areas. The eclectic lineup of performers ranges from country to jazz to Latin.
Woodward Park’s most exotic destination is the tranquil Shinzen Japanese Garden. Retreat into a serene world that changes with the seasons, as camellias and ume trees (Japanese apricot) bloom in spring and the red leaves of maples put on a brilliant display during autumn. The authentically designed garden includes a teahouse made of Japanese red cedar and gorgeous spots to take in the Zen environment, such as the stone Double Moon Bridge, which looks out over a pond filled with brilliantly hued koi.