Sutter’s Fort or Bust

Learn Who and Why They Came

Friends of Sutter’s Fort is proud to be the sponsor of the Sutter’s Fort or Bust Program (SFOB) at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, providing critical funding for program staffing, program materials and supplies.

Sutter’s Fort or Bust is an innovative and low-cost field trip option geared for elementary school students grade 3 through 7. SFOB is a fun hands-on experience that seeks to help students understand who came to Sutter’s Fort and why, giving a glimpse of life during 1846. Historical interpreters, in 1840’s clothing, will explain the complexities of Mexican California life to your class. People came from all over the United States and around the world to California, by ship and by wagon; they joined thousands of Native Americans, Californios, and others already residing in the region. The four stations your group will visit are: Sailor, Vaquero, Trapper, and Overland Immigrant. Each station will discuss how and why some of these individuals came to California, and why their roles were vital to John Sutter and the Fort.

SFOB runs approximately 50 minutes, and after the tour, students are invited to explore the Fort on their own with their chaperones where they can visit rooms and listen to the audio tour, participate in the Sutter’s Fort Scavenger Hunt and visit our Trade & Gift Store. We recommend schools and groups allow 90 to 120 minutes for this SFOB Field Trip.

The program runs regardless of weather conditions, and is primarily outdoors. During the program, Sutter’s Fort is open to the public and there will be other visitors, and potentially other schools on site.

An alternative joint field trip option is also available for groups attending B Street Theatre performances of Treasure Island or Christmas Carol.

Program Fees

The cost of SFOB is a $80.00 fee per class of up to 35 people.  Up to 5 extra individuals may attend, making a 40 person group maximum. The additional individuals will be charged $3.00 each. Please note that one chaperone is required for every 12 students.

Program Requirements & Restrictions

Sutter’s Fort or Bust runs on Wednesday and Friday every 20 minutes from 10:20am to 2:40 pm.

The program is available to public, private, and home school groups.

It is important that during the program, and while exploring the Fort afterwards, that students and chaperones stay together at all times.

Registration Process

You can reserve a spot in Sutter’s Fort or Bust, or learn more about this program, by contacting Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park directly at 916-445-3755, or submit an online Inquiry Form.

We encourage groups to pay registration fees in advance. All unpaid fees are due upon arrival, and cash or check is preferred when paying at the kiosk. Checks should be made out to Friends of Sutter’s Fort.

These outdoor tours go on rain or shine. Please plan accordingly for the weather. In the early fall and late spring, we can have very warm weather with temperatures reaching into the 90’s. In the late fall, winter and early spring, we can have rain, fog, and cold temperatures.

California Social-Science Standards

The Sutter’s Fort or Bust Program covers many components of 3rd-5th grade Social Science curriculum. Below are just some of the standards ESP covers:

  • 3.3 Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of local historical events and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land.
  • 4.2 Students describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods.
  • 5.8 Students trace the colonization, immigration, and settlement patterns of the American people from 1789 to the mid-1800s, with emphasis on the role of economic incentives, effects of the physical and political geography, and transportation systems.