Bidwell Park starts at Bidwell Mansion in the downtown area of Chico and continues in a northeasterly direction for about ten miles. Because Big Chico Creek flows the length of Bidwell Park, there are only a few places to drive across the park. These crossings are at The Esplanade, Camellia Way Bridge, at the intersection of Mangrove Ave. and Vallombrosa Ave., Hwy 99 and Manzanita Ave. Most people think of the park as being on an east-west axis so that assumption will be used in the directions given below. From west to east geographically:
The unofficial disc golf course and Ten Mile House Road are also in Upper Park, but access is via Hwy 32 rather than a Chico surface street. Wildwood Park, with soccer fields, a group picnic area and children's play equipment is on the road leading into Upper Park. Bidwell Ranch is also on Wildwood, on the east side of the Sycamore Bypass bridge.
There are two one-way vehicle roads in Lower Park, one on each side of the creek. Neither traverses the entire length of Lower Park. The south road, South Park Drive, is for eastbound vehicles, the north, Petersen Memorial Drive, for westbound. The speed limit is 20 MPH.
South Park Drive
The western segment of South Park can be entered at the intersection of Pine and East 4th St. or slightly further east on Woodland between Alder and Sycamore Streets. This vehicle segment terminates on Woodland at the eastern end of Sycamore fields. This road segment is open to vehicles from 9 a.m. to one hour after sunset. The eastern vehicle segment starts at the Cedar Grove entrance off East 8th St. and terminates on Centennial near the east end of Lower Park. The gate to this segment of the road is opened at 11 a.m. and closed one hour after sunset. The gate to the Cedar Grove parking area opens at 5:30 a.m. and closes one hour after sunset.
Petersen Memorial Drive
This road starts at the intersection of Vallombrosa west of Manzanita and terminates at the Sycamore Pool parking lot. The parking lot at the entrance to Petersen Drive is always open. The gates for Petersen is opened at 11 a.m. and closed one hour after sunset. The parking lot at Sycamore Pool is accessed from Vallombrosa Way off Vallombrosa Ave. It is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Most of Upper Park is accessed from Wildwood Road where it intersections Manzanita Ave. Wildwood Road becomes Upper Park Road at the point where it makes a sharp right turn. The gate at this location opens one hour before sunrise and closes at 11 p.m. Upper Park Road is paved through Parking Area E and turns to gravel at a point slightly east of Area E. The road gate past Area E opens at 7 a.m. and closes one hour after sunset. This graveled portion of Upper Park Road is closed to motor vehicles all day Sunday and Monday and during rainy weather. There is a gate further east at Diversion Dam that closes the easternmost part of the road throughout the rainy season. The park's gravel road is passable by vehicles with normal road clearance but it's somewhat rough, especially at the end of winter and summer. At the most, it's graded once a year. There are emergency phones at Bear Hole (Lot K) and Salmon Hole (Lot N). These phones are to be used only for true emergencies, not for calls about vehicle breakdowns. California State Auto Association tow truck operators have said that they provide towing service from the gravel portion of Upper Park Road. Cell phone reception can be poor in the canyon.
There are several ways to access the park areas that are on the south side of Big Chico Creek. There's no vehicle access, however. One way is to park at Parking Area E, walk a few hundred feet east on the paved road to an unmarked trail that goes towards the creek. Follow this trail around the edge of the golf course, along the golf course road to the bridge crossing the creek. Once you cross the creek, follow the trail to an old road, turning east on the road. Where the road ends, the trail starts and continues to the end of the park's eastern boundary. You can also reach this trailhead by parking at the point where Centennial becomes Chico Canyon Road and walking or biking down the old road.
To reach the disc golf course and park trailheads originating on the southern edge of the park, drive east on Hwy 32. The disc golf course entrance is unmarked. It is just before the first house that you'll see south of the highway, about 4.5 miles east of Bruce Road. To reach the major south side trailhead, continue east on Hwy 32 to Ten Mile House Road. On the north side of the highway at this location, there's a dirt parking area and a gravel road with a green gate . The pedestrian entrance to the park is slightly to the left of this gate.