Parks and Recreation in Sonoma County

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Fort Ross State Park Organization or
Fort Ross Conservancy <--Bicentennial News

Located approximately 50 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County - home of giant redwoods - offers a great variety of Federal, State and local parks. The climate is mild throughout the year; the coastal area tends to be cool; the interior is mild in winter and can be hot on summer days. Nights and evenings are generally cool.

"I firmly believe, from what I have seen,
that this is the chosen spot of all this earth
as far as Nature is concerned."

Luther Burbank, 1875

The Parks of the Coastal Region.

Along more than thirty miles of rugged and scenic coastline of the Pacific ocean are numerous parks where the visitor can camp, hike, observe a variety of sea and bird life, and enjoy nature. The Sonoma Coast offers spectacular scenery which is enhanced by profuse wildflower displays in the spring and early summer. Parks are listed South to North and include:

Doran Regional Park, Sonoma Coast State Beach, Fort Ross Historic State Park , Salt Point State Park and Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

The Russian River Area.

Since the late 1800's, the Russian River Area has been a popular destination for week-ends and summer vacations.

Located approximately one mile north of Guerneville, Armstrong Redwood State Reserve is one of the last virgin growth Coastal Redwood groves in this coastal area.

Adjacent to the Armstrong Redwood State Reserve is the Austin Creek State Recreation Area, a semi-wild area ideal for hiking and camping.

For information about restaurants accommodations and other facilities in the Russian River area, check the home page of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce.

Enjoying the Russian and Gualala Rivers
Russian River Whitewater Canoeing & Kayaking Guide

Gualala River Wild & Scenic Kayaking & Canoeing Guide.

These guides provide paddleboating information for self-guided and guided tours on the Gualala and Russian Rivers. The full-screen maps provide a perspective on all sections of the rivers, including both road maps and topo maps. The guides include hyperlinks to online and printed information about Sonoma County's rivers, including updated river flow information.

Conserving the Russian and Gualala Rivers
Russian River Recreation and Conservation Directory.

Gualala River Recreation and Conservation Directory.

(Sort alphabetically. Section 1=canoeing-kayaking, 2=rafting-oarboating, 3=conservation-environment, 4=fishing-driftboating, 5=hiking-camping, 6=other-websites) These directories provide links to websites on river recreation and river conservation. Organized by river watersheds, the directories provide information on many types of outdoor recreation opportunities in and around Sonoma County"s river canyons and the many local organizations that are working to protect them.

Lake Sonoma.

Lake Sonoma. Nestled at the end of Dry Creek, one of the world's most prestigious wine growing regions, Lake Sonoma is one of the prime recreational areas in Northern California which receives well over a million visitors annually. Completed in 1983 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Warm Springs Dam forms Lake Sonoma with over 2,700 surface acres of water for canoes, sailboats, motorboats, fishing and skiing. Forty miles of trails are available to horseback riders and hikers. In addition to developed campgrounds, boat-in campsites and many picnic areas, Lake Sonoma hosts the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery, which is the most modern fish hatchery in the State of California.

Santa Rosa.

The parks in and near Santa Rosa, the County seat and largest city of Sonoma County include historic Luther Burbank Gardens, Howarth Park, Spring Lake Park, and Annadel State Park.

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Hikers at Spring Lake Park near Santa Rosa

The Valley of the Moon.

Highway 12 runs east from Santa Rosa to the town of Sonoma through the Valley of the Moon, bounded by the Mayacamas mountains on the north and Sonoma Mountain to the South. Extensive vineyards stretch along the highway on both sides.

The parks include Hood Mountain Regional Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, which includes  the Valley of the Moon Observatory, and Jack London State Historic Park.

"Effective June 1, Jack London State Historic Park will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The park is scheduled to be permanently closed by July 1, 2012."

(See also Annadel State Park and Spring Lake Regional Park shown under Santa Rosa.

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It's Springtime in the Valley of the Moon

The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association offers docent-led hikes at Annadel, Sugarloaf and Jack London State Historic Park.  The Schedule is updated monthly.

For more strenuous hikes, check out the Dave and Bill web page.

Historic Sonoma and Petaluma Adobe.

Sonoma State Historic Park consists several restored historic buildings which date back to the earliest days of the Mexican era and the beginnings of California as part of the United States.

Rancho Petaluma was by all accounts the largest and richest privately owned Mexican estates north of San Francisco Bay and one of the most important in Alta California. Exact boundaries of the rancho were of great debate especially after U.S. take-over of California in 1846. Authentic furniture and interpretive displays in Petaluma Adobe make it possible to visualize many aspects of life on Vallejo's sprawling rancho.

Information about Sonoma County Regional Parks

Volunteers are needed in all parks

There are many opportunities to volunteer in all parks.  Activities are adapted to the skills and desires of volunteers and include leading tours, maintaining and improving trails, staffing museums and visitor centers, driving golf carts for visitors needing assistance, leading educational walks for students and doing office work.   Benefits may  include free passes to parks and free camping permits.

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Training Opportunities for New Volunteers:

Valley of the Moon Sector  (Annadel, Sugarloaf Ridge, Jack London)

Many parks offer docent-led, informative walks of historic or natural interest.

Schedule of Docent-Led Nature and Interpretive Hikes

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