On a recent road trip up the 395 Highway, I visited Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, CA. I did not even realize the date let alone that it was an unfortunate date, February 19. On that date in 1942, Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Roosevelt.  Japanese Americans were all “relocated” to camps throughout the United States for no reason other than being Japanese during WWII.  Stunningly beautiful scenery, with views of all of the mountains combined with the sadness of what was once there, makes this place one of reflection.

Your first stop should be the very informative visitor center, the former auditorium of the camp, which has many exhibits and presentation boards, as well as a short film.  They also have a bookstore. Museum shops are always a great place to stop for books so you can learn more about where you are, plus the money supports the museum. Even if you cannot afford the books when you visit, you can write the book titles down and get them at a later date at your local bookstore.

Manzanar has guided tours (check availability) or you can walk or drive around the property on a dedicated road.  It is absolutely gorgeous in this part of California, especially with the snow. There are signs to indicate what structures, etc. were previously in the different areas you drive/walk/bike past.   There is a small cemetery, with the structure that I think is the most widely seen / posted. Most of the buildings were dismantled and sold for scrap by the government long ago.

Manzanar National Historic Site, 5001 Highway 395, Independence, CA 93526

No entrance fee, but they do accept donations.

Plenty of parking.

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