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SONOMA COAST STATE PARK

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Sonoma Coast State Park: Overview
Directions, Hours & Fees
Maps & Brochures
Sonoma Coast Visitor Center in Jenner
Volunteer Opportunities
Public Education Programs
School Group Education Programs
Stewardship Programs

Sonoma Coast logoSonoma Coast State Park Sonoma Coast State Park (SP) is located between Jenner and Bodega Bay on Highway 1. This 10,000+ acre park was established in 1934 and includes over 19 miles of trails. It is actually a series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands extending 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail 4 miles north of Jenner. The long sandy beaches below rugged headlands, a craggy coastline with natural rock arches and secluded coves are features that make this State Park one of California's most scenic attractions. Beachcombers, fishermen, sunbathers and picnickers can access the beach from more than a dozen points along the coast from Hwy. 1. The Rangers' Station is located on the north side of Salmon Creek on Hwy. 1.

The following facilities currently have reduced services (pack it in/pack it out and no restroom facilities): 

  • Bodega Dunes Day Use
  • Blind Beach Day Use
  • Bodega Head East Day Use
  • Campbell Cove Day Use
  • Russian Gulch Day Use
  • South Salmon Day Use
  • Schoolhouse Day Use
  • Vista Point Day Use
  • Pomo Canyon Environmental Campground (closed until further notice)
  • Willow Creek Environmental Campground (closed until further notice)

The following facilities are open:

  • One loop of the Bodega Dunes Campground
  • One loop of the Bodega Dunes Campground

Be Safe When Visiting Sonoma Coast SP

Like most north coast beaches, Sonoma Coast SP is NOT FOR SWIMMING. Strong rip currents, steep beaches, heavy surf and sudden ground swells make even surf play dangerous. The water temperature averages 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A small staff of well-trained lifeguards is usually on duty during the peak season, but with so much coastline to cover, they may not be available. Those wishing to swim or wade on this coast should investigate Doran Beach, part of the Sonoma County regional park system.

Warning: It is especially important to keep back from the highest water-line (adults and children). Never turn your back to the ocean. Many rescues are made each year, and sadly, a number of people lose their lives. Also be careful of the bluffs and rocks. The shale formations are unstable and unsafe for climbing, so stay on the trails and heed warning signs. Stewards has been instrumental in posting warning signs in English and Spanish.

The tidepools on the Sonoma Coast State Park beaches are teeming with multitudes of flora and fauna. From virtually invisible colonies of aggregate anemones to sea stars tucked under kelp, there are fragile intertidal creatures everywhere. Stewards offers two levels of hands-on tidepool exploration education programs to help students and the public safely explore the tidepools without destruction to the habitat. The Tidepool Education Program is designed for school groups. The Tidepool Roving Naturalist Program places trained docents on certain Sonoma Coast beaches on weekends to interact with the general public. There is usually no charge for either of these programs. We schedule dates and times when the tides are lowest to maximize access to the tidepools.

 

Climate

While the north coast weather can be foggy in the summer, it usually burns off by midday and the cool ocean breezes make the Sonoma Coast SP a haven for visitors seeking to escape the inland heat. The weather can change quickly when the fog rolls in, layered clothing is recommended.

 

Coastal Features

Bodega Head is the rocky headland that forms the entrance into Bodega Harbor. The harbor side provides a popular crabbing area along the jetty, and the many hiking trails on the ocean side allow access to small, sandy coves and spectacular scenic bluff top views. The high cliffs offer excellent vantage points for observing migrating gray whales. During whale migration, State Park Whale Watch Program docents are available to teach you about the magnificent cetaceans that visit our coast.

Goat Rock, near the mouth of the Russian River, is known for its scenic shoreline and easily accessible sandy beach. Picnic tables and restroom facilities are also available. Goat Rock beach is home to a colony of harbor seals.  Note: For your safety and that of the animals, please stay 50 yards from the seals, especially during pupping season (March-August). State Park Seal Watch Program docents can be found here on weekends during the pupping season. Due to the protected status of the seals, NO DOGS are allowed on Goat Rock Beach.

Shell Beach is a favorite location for beachcombing and tidepooling. Stewards' School Group Tide Pool Education Program offers docent-led tour tidepool tours for schools as an outdoor classroom for the study of tidal pool marine life. State Park Roving Naturalist Program docents can be found on this an other beaches to help you safely learn about the flora and fauna of our coast.

Duncan's Landing is famous for two things: as an early-day landing for loading small coastal ships with lumber and food products and for being the most dangerous point along the Sonoma Coast due to large and unpredictable surf. Warning: Stay off the rocks, the waves have come up to the parking lot and people have been swept off the rocks. In the spring the wildflower displays are spectacular.

Portuguese Beach and Schoolhouse Beach are beautiful sandy beaches surrounded by rocky headlands.

Salmon Creek Beach, where a lagoon forms as sand closes the mouth of Salmon Creek, is a popular summer destination. Nearly two miles of unbroken, scenic, sandy beach make this an excellent place for surf fishing, beachcombing and picnicking. The surfers are here when the waves are good. NO DOGS and NO FIRES are allowed on Salmon Creek Beach due to the protection of the western snowy plovers. These shorebirds are listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act as a threatened species because of loss of nesting habitat due to human development, invasion of European beach grass and predation by ravens, foxes and domestic pets.

 

Facilities (Camping)

To make camping reservations contact: RESERVE AMERICA

Wright's Beach
There are 27 developed campsites located adjacent to the beach. There are no showers, but campers may use the hot showers at nearby Bodega Dunes Campground. Maximum trailer length is 27', no hook-ups are available. Each site has picnic tables, fire rings and paved parking spurs. Running water and flush toilets are nearby. When the campground is filled, the overflow area in the Wright's Beach Picnic Area may be used for self-contained vehicles. This area is along the roadway adjacent to the kiosk. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends and during the peak season.

Bodega Dunes
There are 98 campsites with hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer sanitation dump station. Maximum trailer length is 31', no hook-ups are available. Campfire and Junior Ranger programs are held in the summer months. The day use area includes a disabled accessible boardwalk out to a classic sandy beach. No DOGS and NO FIRES are allowed on the beach as a measure to protect the snowy plovers.

Willow Creek Environmental Camp - CLOSED SEASONALLY
11 primitive campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets. Campsites are within 1/4 mile from the parking lot and there is no running water. The only State Park campground on the Russian River, sites are shaded by willows but close to a large beach for swimming and fishing. Blue heron, egrets, osprey, and occasionally river otters can be seen by the river. To protect the wildlife, no dogs are allowed. These sites are not on the reservation system.

Pomo Canyon Environmental Camp - CLOSED DUE TO SERVICE REDUCTIONS
Contact David Berman to access and camp at Pomo Canyon Campground for an EE program/stewardship project.

20 campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets and running water nearby. Campsites are within 1/4 mile from the parking lot, one is disabled accessible. Camps are set in a beautiful redwood grove among the ferns. A three mile trail to Shell Beach takes off from the campground, crossing seasonal streams and rising up into the grassland with marvelous views of the river and finally the ocean. To protect the wildlife, no dogs are allowed. This campground is not on the reservation system.

 

Hiking

Kortum Trail: Magnificent hike along approximately 10 miles of the California Coastal Trail. The trail starts at Blind Beach (enter the Goat Rock beach entrance just south of Jenner and drive 0.8 miles to the Blind Beach parking lot). The trail crosses multiple State Beach parking lots. We recommend parking one car south at your end destination and carpooling back to Blind Beach. This trail is limited to hiking (no equestrians or mountain bikes).

Pomo Canyon Trail and Red Hill: The Pomo Canyon Trail, part of an ancient Indian trade route, runs from Hwy. 1, just east of Shell Beach, to Pomo Canyon Campground, off Willow Creek Rd. Redhill is accessed using a 2-mile leg of the trail, which takes you across open grassy hills, past two hidden redwood groves, and then to a vantage point atop a rocky ridge. For a longer hike, you can continue to the Pomo Canyon Campground, a beautiful redwood environmental campground. This trail is limited to hiking (no equestrians or mountain bikes).

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Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park Photo: Sonoma Coast State Park
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Office: 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, CA 95446
Mail: P.O. Box 2, Duncans Mills, CA 95430 · (707) 869-9177
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