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Manzanar National Historic Site

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Manzanar National Historic Site

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  • Manzanar National Historic Site sits adjacent to Highway 395.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Visitors can drive (or walk) a course that traces the grounds of the former detention camp, beginning at the historical entrance.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • The administration blocks where those who lived and worked at Manzanar resided.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • A flag flies over the internment camp where American citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent were rounded up and forced to live because of their ethnicity.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • A large building houses a museum of the former internment camp.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Museum displays.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Museum displays.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • The museum includes from interactive displays, to recreations of structures and hardware, films, and displays providing information about the Japanese detention centers of the era.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Newer interactive displays show what life was like for workers and for detainees at the internment camp.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • The museum often has art themed around Manzanar's past residents, including this gallery by Steve Cavallo.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • New work continues to reveal and display Manzanar's past.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • A recreation of the garden built by detainees.- Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Translating to "monument to console the souls of the dead," a shrine sits in the Manzanar cemetery. Each year it is the site of an annual pilgrimage by former detainees who seek to remember their imprisonment at Manzanar.- Manzanar National Historic Site
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Interesting site of often-overlooked history.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

A growing period of distrust of Japan followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. Army turned the abandoned townsite of Manzanar at the base of the Eastern Sierra into one of several internment camps built throughout the Western states. At its peak, over 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants would be forcefully confined in camps like this; Manzanar would hold over 10,000. The camp held internees from 1942 until 1945. The museum is a monument to this era of U.S. history.

Manzanar was chosen by the National Parks as being the best-preserved of the former camps. Today, an indoor museum contains recreations of the barracks that held the internees, along with numerous displays relating to all facets of the detention sites' construction, operation, and living conditions and routines. The site also hosts programs by authors and others educated on life at Manzanar, and has changing art exhibits inside.

A film about the camp's history runs every half-hour in the museum theater, and it presents a compelling and emotional picture of those whose lives were affected by the anti-Japanese sentiment and the internment camps. The process of Japanese internment was carried out dishonestly. "We were told we were being evacuated so the government could protect us," reported an internee. "When we arrived I saw armaments, not facing out, facing in."

Barbed wire fences surrounded the camps, and armed guards watched from guard towers. Manzanar was spread over an area of about 540 acres, with many internees taken from their homes in the Los Angeles area.

Manzanar is continually undergoing improvements to its museum features, with more displays being added and more of the grounds groomed for visitors. Currently it is possible to drive a ring road that circles a large portion of the former camp's interior. Visitors can also walk through most of the grounds. Admission to the grounds and museum is free. The site is operated by the National Park Service. Additional information can be found at the Manzanar National Histroic Site (NPS). The site is one of many interesting stops to make when passing along Highway 395, including the Cottonwood Creek Charcoal Kilns, the Olancha Dunes, the Olancha Sculpture Garden, and the Eastern California Museum Trail, which also has a sizeable collection of artifacts from Manzanar.

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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