The Cities of Fresno and Clovis are located in the heart of the state in the fertile San Joaquin Valley. From the agricultural fields on the valley floor to the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the Fresno area truly offers something for everyone.
Fresno’s location, very near the geographical center of California, places the city a comfortable distance from several of the major recreation areas and urban centers in the state. Just 60 miles south of Yosemite National Park, it is the nearest major city to the park. Likewise, Sierra National Forest is 40 miles, Kings Canyon National Park is 60 miles and Sequoia National Park is 75 miles.
Because Fresno sits at the junction of Freeways 41 and 99 (41 is Yosemite National Park’s southern access road, and 99 branches east from Interstate 5 to serve the urban centers of the San Joaquin Valley), the city is a major gateway for Yosemite visitors coming from Los Angeles. The city also serves as an entrance into Sierra National Forest via Highway 168, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks via Highway 180.
Fresno has three large public parks, two in the city limits and one in the county island to the southwest. Woodward Park, which features the Shinzen Japanese Gardens, numerous picnic areas and several miles of trails, is in North Fresno and is adjacent to the San Joaquin River Parkway. Roeding Park, near Downtown Fresno, is home to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and Rotary Storyland and Playland. Kearney Park is the largest of the Fresno region’s park system and is home to historic Kearney Mansion and plays host to the annual Civil War Revisited, the largest reenactment of the Civil War in the West coast of the U.S
Fresno is marked by a semi-arid climate, with mild, moderately wet winters and hot and dry summers, thus displaying Mediterranean characteristics. December and January are the coldest months, and average 55.0 deg F during the day; July high temperatures average 98.5 deg F, though summer temperatures can occasionally soar to highs of 113 deg F or more. Summers provide considerable sunshine, with July peaking at 97 percent of the total possible sunlight hours; conversely, January is the lowest with only 46 percent of the daylight time in sunlight because of thick tule fog. However, the near averages 81% of possible sunshine, for a total of 3550 hours. Average annual precipitation is around 11.5 inches, which, by definition, would classify the area as a semi-desert and very close to a climate where agriculture is only possible through the use of extensive irrigation; rainfall is high in the winter and spring seasons, with the summers typically being very dry.
Fresno serves as the economic hub of Fresno County and California’s San Joaquin Valley. The unincorporated area and rural cities surrounding Fresno remain predominantly tied to large-scale agricultural production.
Fresno was founded by the Central Pacific Railroad Company in 1872. The location for the town was uninviting at best, with barren sand plains in all directions. However, Leland J. Stanford, a Company Director for the railroad, was so impressed with a wheat field he saw in the distance that he decided this was the place for the new station.
In 1875, the Central California Colony was established South of Fresno which set the model for a system of development that was used throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Tracts of land were subdivided into 20-40 acre parcels, irrigated from a system of canals and often landscaped with boulevards of palms, eucalyptus or other drought-resistant trees. By 1903, there were 48 separate colonies or tracts in Fresno County which drew farmers and their families from Scandinavia and from across the United States.
Fresno is now the fifth largest city in the state of California. Centrally located, Fresno is the financial, industrial, trade, and commercial capital in the Central San Joaquin Valley. This dynamic city is the hub of a region rich in heritage, resources, and people.
Fresno is a unique mixture of more than 80 different nationalities. The various cultures that make up the community of Fresno are much like mosaic pieces that together make a beautiful picture. Fresnans are not only diverse; they are also warm and friendly people.
With a population of over 509,000, many consider Fresno to be the perfect size-offering the best of urban amenities and opportunities with the unique charms and easy living of a small town. There are many wonderful cultural and recreational experiences available in, or near, the city of Fresno.