No parades? No problem. Soak up some nature this July 4th holiday

No parades? No problem. Soak up some nature this July 4th holiday

No parades? No problem. Soak up some nature this July 4th holiday
Sunol Regional Wilderness park. (Photo by Pete Cruz)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — The July/August edition of Regional in Nature, East Bay Regional Park District’s bi-monthly activity guide, will show up in the July 16 issue of the Concord Clayton Pioneer. You can also find it online at the district website,

Usually the Fourth of July brings lots of parades, special events, and other celebrations. However, because of COVID-related concerns, this year’s holiday is going to be more subdued.

Nevertheless, you can still celebrate in the regional parks and elsewhere. Regional in Nature has lots of good suggestions.

First of all, everyone should remember that rules prohibit fireworks of any kind, even the supposedly safe and sane variety, in the regional parks. Compliance is especially urgent this year, due to the ongoing drought and high fire danger. And smoking, including vaping, is against the rules, too.

If you do plan a picnic in a regional park, you should arrive early. Parks tend to get crowded on holiday weekends, and you can find all the picnic tables occupied.


You will likely find crowds at regional parks with swim areas. Swimming is first-come, first-served at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, with no attendance restrictions until the park reaches capacity.

The swim beaches at Lake Anza near Berkeley and Lake Temescal in Oakland remain closed because of water level and water quality issues. The swim area at Quarry Lakes in Fremont has been closed, too, because of low water levels. However the district now plans to reopen it in July.

Other swim facilities no longer require reservations and will accept walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis until they reach maximum swim capacity. They will honor all swim registrations made online through July.

To ensure you get a spot, you can still make optional swimming reservations for weekends and holidays at Contra Loma in Antioch, Cull Canyon in Castro Valley, Don Castro in Hayward, and Roberts Pool in Oakland. The pool at Castle Rock in Walnut Creek is now drop-in only, no reservations needed.

The reservations number is 888-327-2757, Option 2.

Other activities

Other activities include berry picking at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. Registered participants will be able to pick berries at the farm 9:30 a.m. on Sundays, July 11 and 25, August 1 and 15. To register, visit

Independence Day was cause for elaborate observances back in the 19th century at present-day Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. The now-vanished towns of Somersville and Nortonville hosted parades, picnics and dances.

Those days are gone, but you can catch some of the flavor through an article and photos in Regional in Nature. There’s also a cookie recipe from a 1900 coal country cookbook.

At Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, the visitor center is open for self-guided tours. The center has lots of displays and information highlighting the culture of the Ohlone Indians who inhabited a village there for millennia before the arrival of Europeans. For more information, visit the website,

Other visitor centers are open, too. Since hours of operation are changing as we speak, it’s best to check them on the district website,

Astronomy is an activity you can enjoy in your own backyard. The July/August Regional in Nature has an article with instructions on where to spot the summer triangle. It’s a shape formed by three stars: Vega, Deneb and Altair, each of which is part of its own constellation. Vega is almost directly overhead. Read the article, get a reclining chair, and enjoy the celestial show.

These are just a few suggestions. But however you spend it, have a safe, fireworks-free Fourth of July in the regional parks and other public open space.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at