The mission of California State Parks is
to provide for the health, inspiration and
education of the people of California by helping
to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological
diversity, protecting its most valued natural and
cultural resources, and creating opportunities
for high-quality outdoor recreation.
Salt Point State
surf, brisk ocean
breezes and stunning
California State Parks supports equal access.
Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who
need assistance should contact the park at
(707) 847-3221. If you need this publication in an
alternate format, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
For information call: (800) 777-0369
(916) 653-6995, outside the U.S.
711, TTY relay service
Discover the many states of California.™
Salt Point State Park
25050 Coast Highway 1
Jenner, CA 95450
© 2010 California State Parks (Rev. 2014)
at her best.
bout 90 miles north of San Francisco,
Salt Point State Park rests majestically on
one of several jutting promontories off State
Highway 1. This 6,000-acre park — which
includes one of California’s first underwater
parks — has breathtaking views of offshore
rocks, a thundering, boisterous surf and
On California’s north coast, winters are mild
and wet, with average temperatures in the
low 40s. Cool and foggy summer days average
about 64 degrees. Changes in weather are
common and frequent.
The earliest known native residents — the
Kashaya Pomo people — occupied an area
from just north of Stewarts Point to just
south of what is now the Russian River. From
the coastline, their lands extended inland
about 30 miles.
The Kashaya Pomo are expert artisans
whose exquisite basketry graces museum
collections all over the world. Historians
estimate that at the time of the first Spanish
contact, the Kashaya Pomo numbered about
1,500 people, occupying several large villages.
Summers were spent fishing along the coast;
in late fall the Kashaya moved inland to hunt
and to reoccupy their winter villages.
Over the years, the Kashaya Pomo people
have been able to preserve much of their
traditional culture. Today many Kashaya
descendants occupy a rancheria near Stewarts
Point as well as other areas near Fort Ross.
On April 8, 1846, Ernest Rufus received
a Mexican land grant for 17,500 acres
along the coast. The area, called Rancho
German, encompassed the land from
about six miles north of Fort Ross to the
Gualala River. The southern portion of the
rancho included what is now Salt Point
Beginning in 1849, the land changed
hands several times, becoming the site of
several active sawmills from 1853 to 1859.
Lumber was shipped on schooners to San
Francisco. In 1870, the southern section of
Rancho German was sold to Lewis Gerstle
and Frederick Funcke to mill tanoak
and other hardwoods. They built a hotel
in 1872 and surveyed the westernmost
section of their ranch to plot a town that
Gerstle and Funcke named Louisville.
NATURAL HISTORY: INLAND
The inland portion of the park features acres
of grasslands and forest areas. Northeast
of Highway 1, coastal brush and grasslands
merge with lush growths of wind-sculpted
Bishop pines towering over wild calypso
orchids. Mixed evergreens skirt the edges
of the second-growth redwoods, descended
from trees that were logged in the last two
centuries. Douglas-firs stand tall among
madrone, tanoak and peaceful meadows.
At about 1,000 feet
elevation, a large open
prairie was once home to
elk. At the park’s highest
point, a pygmy forest
holds stands of smaller
cypress, pine and
redwoods. Their growth
is stunted because of
the area’s highly acidic,
nutrient-poor soil and a
hardpan layer beneath
the surface. Similar
groves of stunted trees
can be found along the
coast from Monterey
County northward to
Among the native
Marine life abounds in the waters off Salt Point.
animals, coyotes and
Above: bull kelp forest; right: anemone.
gray foxes usually hunt at
night, while bobcats are more active during the
holdfast (a root-like
day. Black-tailed deer, raccoons, striped skunks,
structure that holds the kelp
and several varieties of squirrels, chipmunks
to the ocean floor), bull kelp will grow up to
and field mice may be seen. Bears, mountain
ten inches a day reaching for the sunlight at
lions, badgers and porcupines — rarely
the surface. After storms, bull kelp can be
seen — occasionally range the area.
found piled in large, greenish-yellow mounds
The forest, grassland and ocean shore host
all over the beach. Visitors might be lucky
a wide variety of birds. Look for pelicans,
enough to spot a great blue heron fishing from
ospreys, woodpeckers and oystercatchers. Be
“rafts” of kelp at sea. In August, the water is
especially wary of mischievous Steller’s jays
dark with the lush kelp forest that provides
and ravens, who ravage unattended campsites
homes for countless varieties of rockfish and
in search of food.
From November to January, gray whales pass
NATURAL HISTORY: THE COAST
through the kelp forests as they migrate south
Bull kelp thrives along the coast. In April,
to breeding and calving areas along the coast of
though the kelp is not yet visible, its growth
Baja California. The whales return to summer
has already begun. Attaching to rocks with a
Photo courtesy of Steve Clabuesch
After the sawmills ceased operations in
1876, the land was transitioned to grazing
livestock as its primary use.
feeding areas in the Bering Sea, heading north
between February and April.
The Sonoma Coast is famous for its red
abalone. This slow-growing mollusk, an important
part of the intertidal community, takes about ten
years to reach a diameter of seven inches.
On the north coast, the rocky tide pools are full
of life. Sea stars, mussels, sea urchins and several
varieties of tiny young fish lead a precarious
existence in these pools. These organisms are so
fragile they can easily be destroyed by accident.
Many of these creatures can be damaged by even
the simple act of turning over a rock and exposing
them to the sun.
At Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve, Stewarts
Point State Marine Reserve and the Salt Point
Marine Conservation Area, no form of marine
or intertidal life or artifacts may be collected
or disturbed. Only kayaking, underwater
photography, and recreational diving are
permitted within these designated reserve areas.
SANDSTONE AND TAFONI
During the mid-1800s, sandstone from Salt Point
played a vital role in the construction of the
streets and buildings of San Francisco. Along the
marine terrace north of Gerstle Cove, visitors can
see enormous slabs of quarried sandstone, drill
holes and scattered eye bolts left by long-ago
Tafoni is a natural phenomenon common to the
sandstone near the ocean’s edge at Gerstle Cove
and Fisk Mill Cove. An Italian word for “cavern,”
tafoni refers to a honeycomb-type erosion caused
by seasonal wetting and drying of the sandstone,
weakening it into pits, knobs, ribs and ridges.
Activities at the park include camping,
picnicking, fishing, free diving, kayaking,
scuba diving, horse riding and hiking.
Camping — Camping reservations are
strongly advised from March 15 to October
31, especially on weekends. Each site has
a fire ring and picnic table with food locker.
Drinking water and restrooms are nearby,
but no showers or sanitation stations are
available. Call (800) 444-7275 to reserve
campsites or visit www.parks.ca.gov.
Family Campsites — The 109 family sites at
Salt Point State Park include 30 on the ocean
side of the highway at the Gerstle Cove
Campground, and 79 on the east side of the
highway at the Woodside Campground.
Walk-in Campsites — The 20 walk-in sites in
the Woodside Campground do not require
reservations, but they are frequently unusable
in bad weather. Check at (707) 847-3221 before
your trip. The sites are approximately 1⁄3- to 1/2mile from the parking area. No dogs are allowed.
Hike/Bike Campsites —Ten hike/bike
campsites are behind the ranger office near
the Woodside Campground.
Group Campground —The group campground,
on the ocean side of Highway 1, accommodates a
maximum of 40 people and 10 cars. No dogs
Overflow Camping — A day-use parking lot
below Gerstle Cove Campground is available for
self-contained vehicles only (no tent camping or
open fires). There are no restroom facilities, and
you must bring your own drinking water.
Fishing — Salt Point is a very good spot for surf
fishing. In the Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve
and the Stewarts Point State Marine Reserve,
marine life is completely protected. Abalone
diving, spearfishing, and rod and reel fishing are
permitted elsewhere in the area.
Anglers over the age of 16 must
carry a valid California
Diving — Salt Point’s rocky coastline
attracts abalone divers. Abalone
collection is highly regulated.
People taking abalone need a
valid California fishing license and
abalone report card. Additional
rules apply regarding minimum
size, daily bag and possession
limits, tagging and reporting.
For more information on abalone
and fishing regulations, contact the
Department of Fish and Wildlife or
Tafoni formations in sandstone
Fisk Mill Cove picnic area
Picnicking — Fisk Mill Cove, a day-use area with
paved parking, picnic tables, upright barbecues,
restrooms and drinking water, is shielded from
the wind by Bishop pines. For a dramatic view
of the Pacific Ocean, take a short walk from the
north parking lot to Sentinel Rock’s viewing
platform. Stump Beach, one of the few sandy
beaches north of Jenner, has some picnic tables
near the parking lot and a primitive toilet, but no
running water. A ¼-mile trail leads to the beach.
Gerstle Cove also has picnic tables, a primitive
toilet and a scenic view of the ocean.
Trails — The park has more than 20 miles of
hiking and equestrian trails — visit
www.parks.ca.gov for details. Mountain bikes
are not allowed on single-track trails because
they can damage wet trail surfaces. Please stay
on the trails to preserve the park’s unspoiled
qualities and to avoid contact with ticks and
poison oak. Motor vehicles are permitted only
on paved roads.
Fires — Ground fires and open fires of any kind
are not permitted. Use your own off-the-ground
barbecue to cook in the campground areas,
or you may use the facilities provided. Safely
extinguish hot coals in park fire rings.
Pets — Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times
and are permitted only in the developed areas,
except the group campground and walk-in
KRUSE RHODODENDRON STATE
Once part of a large sheep ranch owned
by the Edward P. Kruse family, the
reserve adjoins Salt Point State Park.
The ranch, established in 1880, was
donated to the people of California in
1933. Beginning in late April, beautiful
pink blossoms appear throughout the
redwood forest. Three miles of hiking
trails lead visitors through this silent,
Pets and bicycles are not permitted
on the trails, and mushroom gathering is
prohibited everywhere in the park.
campsites. They must be kept in a tent or vehicle
at night. Only service dogs are allowed on trails.
Horses — Riders must stay on the trail.
Tide Pools — Tide pools are extremely sensitive
to any disturbance. As you observe and explore
tide pool areas, please watch your step; do not
disturb or collect any of their delicate residents.
Note — All natural and cultural features are
protected by law and may not be disturbed.
NEARBY STATE PARKS
• Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve,
22.5 miles north of Jenner;
take Kruse Ranch Road off Highway 1
(707) 847-3221 or (707) 865-2391
• Fort Ross State Historic Park
12 miles north of Jenner on Highway 1
(707) 847-3286 or (707) 865-2391
• Sonoma Coast State Park, Off Highway 1,
just north of Bodega Bay (707) 875-3483
Photo by Robert Potts © California Academy of Sciences
Accessibility is continually improving in
California State Parks. Some picnic areas
have accessible tables. The Salt Point Trail is
accessible for one-tenth of a mile along the
The Gerstle Cove day-use area has
accessible parking and an accessible restroom.
Accessibility updates may be viewed at
S A LT P O I N T
S TAT E
S T AT E
N AT U R A L
R E S E RV E
um m i
S A LT P O I N T
S TAT E
PA R K
S TAT E
M A R IN E
R E S E RV E
Salt Point SP &
P A C
Hu T mi
C O N S E R V AT I O N
a l ala
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Horse Staging Area
S T AT E
S A LT
State Natural Reserve
s G ulc
Marine Reserve Area
S T AT E
R E S E RV E
Marine Conservation Area
S T E WA R T S
• Large rogue waves can sweep you out to sea
during ALL seasons and ocean conditions.
• Bluff- and ocean-related deaths are common.
• The water is very cold, swift and unforgiving.
• Stay back from bluff edges.
STAY ALIVE! STAY ALERT!
• Check in with lifeguard or ranger if you are
unsure about diving conditions.
PA R K
© 2010 California State Parks (Rev. 2014)
Map by Eureka Cartography, Berkeley, CA
This park receives support in part through a nonprofit organization. For conservancy
information, contact: Fort Ross Conservancy, 19005 Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450
(707) 847-3437 • www.fortross.org