Malibu Creek State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving the Malibu Creek canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. The 8,215-acre (3,324 ha) park was established in 1974. Opened to the public in 1976, the park is also a component of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Malibu Creek State Park stretches from below Malibou Lake in the west to Piuma Road in the east. It follows the creek down to the Pacific Ocean and includes the Adamson House and creek's mouth in the Malibu Lagoon at the beach. Tapia Park has recently been incorporated as a subunit of the park. The park includes three natural preserves: 730-acre (300 ha) Liberty Canyon, 300-acre (120 ha) Udell Gorge, and 1,920-acre (780 ha) Kaslow Preserve.
The land that is now Malibu Creek State Park was inhabited by native Chumash people for millennia. The site of a village called Talepop has been uncovered by archaeologists in the northeast corner of the park. By the 1860s a few homesteads existed, including the Sepulveda Adobe, which still stands. Many scenes of The 1968 Planet of the Apes movie starring Charleston Heston were filmed there.
In 1900 a group of wealthy Los Angeles businessmen created the Crags Country Club and purchased 2,000 acres (800 ha) along Malibu Creek. In 1903 a 50-foot high (15 m) dam was built nearby, creating a 7-acre (2.8 ha) lake which was later purchased by 20th Century Fox and named Century Lake. The three-level, 7,500-square-foot (700 m2) Crags Club Lodge was completed in 1910. Redwood trees were planted near the lake that same year, and today stand as the southernmost specimens in California. Also within park boundaries is the Rindge Dam in Malibu Canyon, built in 1926. The Crags Country Club ceased operations in 1936 and the lodge was torn down in 1955.
The majority of the park's lands were donated by entertainer Bob Hope. Other parts of the park, added later, were previously owned by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox for movie ranches. Part of the former 20th Century Fox Ranch had been purchased in 1966 from Ronald Reagan. The Reagan ranch, known as 'Yearling Row,' was owned by the future president from 1951 to 1966 (Reagan earlier owned another ranch also called Yearling Row in Northridge, California). It was sold by the Reagans to pay campaign debts from the 1966 California governor's campaign. Additional parcels have been connected by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
In 2014, adjacent Cameron Nature Preserve in Puerco Canyon was acquired by the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. This created a contiguous block of public parkland from this park to Corral Canyon Park and will provide a path for the Coastal Slope Trail. The 703-acre property (284 ha) was purchased from Oscar-winning director James Cameron.
Most recently an area was annexed to the park known as the King Gillette Ranch, with a landmark Spanish Colonial Revival style residence and estate buildings designed by renowned architect Wallace Neff in the 1920s for owner King C. Gillette, the early-20th-century inventor and manufacturer of the Gillette disposable razor. It was later used by the Catholic Claretian Order as Claretville in the 1950s–60s, then by several other spiritual groups, and finally by Soka University in the 1990s until the recent purchase for the park. The new visitor center for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is located here in the historic Stables compound.
When owned by 20th Century Fox, the park was a movie ranch, and has been the location in dozens of films, beginning with a number of Tarzan movies:Tarzan Escapes (1936), Tarzan's Revenge (1938), Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
Full Confession (1939)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
My Friend Flicka (1943)
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
Viva Zapata! (1952)
Between Heaven and Hell (1956)
The Defiant Ones (1958)
The Second Time Around (1961)
Posse from Hell (1961)
The Sand Pebbles (1966)
Doctor Dolittle (1967)
Planet of the Apes (1968), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
The Towering Inferno (1974)—for miniature exteriors of a fictitious skyscraper
Logan's Run (1976)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
Tour Of Duty (1987-1990)
The Hunter's Moon (1999)
The park was also a key filming location for the M*A*S*H series, both for the feature film and the subsequent television series. The landscape was particularly seen in the opening credits for the show as helicopters carrying wounded approach the hospital with the recognizable Goat Buttes in the background. The exact location of the site is 34°05′47.43″N 118°44′39.39″W.
Other television programs that used the park to pass for a post-apocalyptic Earth were Planet of the Apes and the children's program Ark II. This was also a location for Robin Hood: Men in Tights where the Goat Buttes are seen in the background of the final wedding scene.
The park is still used for occasional filming.
Recreation activities in the park include: horseback riding, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and picnicking. Ranger led programs and hikes are also offered.
The Backbone Trail, a multi-use long-distance trail spanning the Santa Monica Mountains, passes through Malibu Creek State Park. Another long distance trail, the Coastal Slope Trail, is under construction and will pass through the remote southern tip of the park.