In the county of Monterey in California is a small town of 18 known as Parkside, which is often called The Earthquake Capital of the World. The town experiences an earthquake above .6 on the Richter scale every 22 years. The motto of the town is “Be Here When It Happens”, possibly referring to the “Big One” that is supposed to devastate California.
The town is built directly on the San Andreas fault and is about 1500 feet above sea level in the TemblorHills. It used to be a thriving mining community and curious visitors can still visit some of these abandoned mines. The town itself is very pretty and sits in a grove of very old oak trees.
The bridge across the creek in downtown Parkside has shifted more than five feet relative to it’s original position when it was built in 1936.If you have an interest in geology then Parkfield is definitely the place to visit. It is one of the most closely measured and watched earthquake zones in the world. Just North of Parkfield is the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, which is a hole, drilled 2.5 miles into the earth’s crust that is meant to observe seismic activity.
The town is owned and run by a couple of families of ranchers and farmers and Parkfield is well known for its horse-shows, rodeos and equestrian-related events. It also holds an annual Bluegrass Festival. It is also the site of the Parkfield Classic, which is a collegiate bike race that has been held in the hills in the area since 1989. This event typically takes place on the first or third weekend of October and consists of three courses: a 9, 16 and 24-mile challenge.
There are also many hiking trails and trails for equestrians to ride their horses high into the hills so they can enjoy some scenic views. There are beautiful valleys and rock outcroppings cloaked in fields of wildflowers; in fact there are over 200 species of wildflowers in the hills around Parkfield.
Parkfield is also a haven for bird-watchers, butterfly lovers and campers. There are both natural and paid campsites in the area so you can sleep outdoors at night under the stars.
There are also heritage style ranches in the area that also double as hotels and spas. The cuisine offered in the area tends to be the organic meat from grass-fed grazing cows in the area. This special meat from the area of Parkfield is free from antibiotics, pesticides and chemicals.