Famous for his wit and expressions (such as "I never met a man I didn't like"), Will Rogers was also famous for his horse and rope tricks. His career in vaudeville took him to Broadway and the Ziegfeld Follies and then on to Hollywood for movies, his own newspaper column, and radio show. Will Rogers made his way in the world because of an abundance of talent and the sheer force of his personality. At the same time, he managed to keep in touch with the common man in himself and others. Photographs and newsreels show him with presidents, statesmen, politicians, socialites, celebrities and common people from all walks of life. While others are dressed in suits and ties, Will is often seen in his cowboy attire. Unlike many other people in Hollywood, he was a cowboy. He had many careers in his relatively short life of 55 years. He was a professional rodeo performer, cowboy, trick roper, vaudeville comedian, actor, radio personality, newspaper columnist, author, humorist and aviator. In fact, one of his great passions was aviation. It was ironic that after years of flying and promoting air travel, Will Rogers died with Wiley Post in an aircraft accident near Point Barrow, Alaska, on August 15, 1935.
His ranch reflects his roots in horsemanship, starting with the polo field, which is the first thing you see when you look south from the parking area. The field is the only outdoor polo field in Los Angeles county, and the only field that is regulation size. Featured in many movies and TV shows, the polo field features a gentle slope that forms an area for viewing the polo action. Up from the parking area are the ranch buildings, including the visitor center, which was once the ranch guest house. The visitor center features a film on the life of Will Rogers, literature and an audio tour of the grounds. The ranch buildings and grounds are maintained as they were when the Rogers family lived there in the late 1920s and 1930s. The living room of the main ranch house, with a collection of Indian rugs and baskets, features a porch swing in the center of the room and a mounted calf, which was given to Will Rogers to encourage him to rope the calf instead of his friends. The north wing of the house contains the family bedrooms, Will's study, and the sunroom. But the park is more than just an historic site, it's also a working ranch. The park still retains many of the western equestrian activities that were a part of Will Rogers' life. Up the hill from the main guest ranch, above the green expanse of lawn, are the stables, which have been renovated.
Hiking Trails Beyond the ranch and the stables are the trails that lead to spectacular views of the countryside around the park. Since Will Rogers State Historic Park is on the tip of the Santa Monica Mountains, the trails offer vistas of both the sea and the mountains. Visitors can hike to Inspiration Point or take the Rogers trail around the perimeter of the park.
Directions: The park is located off Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades at 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road.
1501 Will Rogers State Park Road, Pacific Palisades
Phone: (310) 454-8212