10,000 Years in 1,000 Oaks

Visiting the Chumash Indian Museum in Oakbrook Regional Park

A hike at the Chumash Indian Museum in Oakbrook Regional Park is truly a step back in time. You walk through a garden of native plants and into classic Calfiornia landscape—rolling oak woodlands watered by the gentle flow of Conejo Creek. Built on the site of an old Chumash village called Sap’wi (“house of the deer”), this cultural museum in Thousand Oaks preserves the heritage and influence of the people who were the largest tribal group in Southern California when the Spanish first arrived. Behind the museum, a 25-acre nature preserve includes the garden dedicated to native California plants. From there, you can follow a 1.5-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trail through groves of old oak trees, some of which date back 300 years. The trail parallels Conejo Creek and passes through areas damaged during the 2018 Woolsey fire. The area surrounding the trail was designated an archaeological site in 1971 after several caves containing pictographs were discovered.

The caves are closed to the public; docent-led tours aren’t currently running due to fire damage. But along the way you’ll see remnants of the old Lang Ranch, as well as a reconstructed Chumash village. It’s a flat and easy walk, providing an opportunity to contemplate the rich history of the land and its people, while listening to the peaceful sounds of Conejo Creek.

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Post-hike, spend some time in the museum, where you’ll discover hundreds of artifacts and exhibits that depict what life was like for the Chumash, starting roughly 10,000 years ago—how they survived, what they did for entertainment, what they ate, how they moved around.

The Chumash Indian Museum is located at 3290 Lang Ranch Pkwy. in Thousand Oaks. From CA-23, exit onto Avenida de los Arboles and turn east. Make a right on Westlake Blvd., then a left on Lang Ranch Pkwy. The museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the first and third Sunday of each month from noon to 4 p.m. Oakbrook Park remains open until sunset. No dogs.

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