One of the attractive features of the San Francisco Bay Area is that it is ringed by square miles of preserved open space. In the mountains just to the east of San Jose is the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. From those heights one can look down into the canyon that is Alum Rock Park, the oldest municipal park in California.
The Sierra Vista Preserve is comprised of 1,676 acres of majestic oak woodlands, rolling grasslands and chaparral communities. The Preserve is home to a number of protected wildlife species such as the red-legged frog, tiger salamander, golden eagle, mountain lion, bobcat, and grey fox. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
Alum Rock Park‘s 740 acres of natural, rugged, beauty are located within the Alum Rock Canyon in the foothills of the Diablo Mountain Range. Special features of the park include Penitencia Creek which transects the entire park and the Mineral Springs area that contains active mineral springs and grottos. From 1890 to 1932 the park was a nationally known health spa with 27 mineral springs. Workers “preserved” the springs by digging into the hillside and constructing rock grottos. In some cases water from the springs was piped to tanks were it was heated and used to fill indoor swimming pools and baths. The remains of the spa makes a visit to Alum Rock an interesting archeological adventure as well as a natural one.