Description - Long sandy beaches below rugged headlands, a craggy coastline with natural arches and secluded coves are features that make Sonoma Coast State Beach one of California's most scenic attractions.
The Beach, actually a series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands, extends 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail located 4 miles north of Jenner. Beachcombers, fishermen, sunbathers and picnickers can access the beach from more than a dozen points along coast Highway 1.
- There is a five-mile trail system in the dunes. The beach is home to one of California's largest seal rookeries. In the winter, Bodega Head is one of the finest whale-watching sites on the North Coast. The park is also home to many kinds of seabirds. The ocean bay and river frontage offers perch, salmon, steelhead and smelt fishing.
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.
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. The western snowy plover is 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, domestic dogs and cats.
Willow Creek Environmental Camp
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
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.
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 blufftop views. The high cliffs offer excellent vantage points for observing migrating gray whales.
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 which are fun to watch, but please stay 50 yards from the seals, especially during pupping season (March - August.) 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. It is used by schools as an outdoor classroom for the study of tidal pool marine life and enjoys a reputation as a prime fishing spot.
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. Heed the signs and 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 & Schoolhouse Beach are beautiful sandy beaches surrounded by rocky headlands. Rock fishing and surf fishing are popular in these locations.
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 snowy plovers. The western snowy plover is 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, domestic dogs and cats.
Recreation - Sonoma Beach offers opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking, boating, canoeing/kayaking, nature programs, viewing spectacular coastal scenery, viewing wildlife, surfing and more.
Like most north coast beaches, Sonoma Coast is NOT FOR SWIMMING. Strong rip currents, heavy surf and sudden ground swells make even surf play dangerous. A small staff of well-trained lifeguards are usually on duty during the peak season, but with so much coastline to cover they may not be available.
Climate - Summers are generally mild. Fog is often encountered near the coastline, with sunny, warmer weather more common inland in the foothills. Winters are generally cool with considerable precipitation. Wear layers of clothing to accommodate cool to warm temperatures and good walking shoes. Rain protection should be included at any time of year.
Sonoma Coast State Beach is located between Jenner and Bodega Bay on Highway One.