If you’re looking for a summer getaway, this is a great deal for anyone living in the Bay Area. Why not take a day to explore the windswept beaches of Salt Point State Park? We have put together a concise guide for anyone who wants to visit this part of the California coast north of San Francisco.
Where is Salt Point State Park?
Salt Point State Park is located on the coast of Sonoma County, Northern California. Because of its location north of San Francisco, Salt Point State Park is a popular destination for Bay Area nature lovers. It is also relatively easy to reach Salt Point State Park if you are staying in Sacramento.
How do I get to Salt Point State Park?
Salt Point State Park is easily accessible by car via the famous California State Route 1 north of San Francisco. If you are using a GPS, try to connect to this official address when you go to Salt Point State Park:
Jenner, California 95450
For your information: Check out this earlier TripMemos article for everything you need to plan a phenomenal CA-1 trip.
What is the distance between Salt Point and San Francisco?
Salt Point State Park is located about 95 miles north of San Francisco, making it a great idea for a day trip for those staying in the Bay Area. Depending on traffic, it usually takes 2.5 hours to get from SF to Salt Point.
What to do in Salt Point State Park?
Salt Point State Park is best known for its breathtaking coastline, with its powerful waves, fascinating sandstone formations and colorful marine life. In fact, Salt Point is distinguished from other California state parks by its many protected marine sanctuaries.
To help you get the most out of your visit to Salt Point, we list the best things to do there.
Take lots of pictures of the remarkable Tafoni
Most visitors to Salt Point enjoy a walk along the park’s sandy shoreline and admire the many eye-catching taphones. Derived from the Italian word tafoni cave, these are fascinating sandstone cliffs with surprisingly strange honeycomb formations. Many of these wells can be found along the southern part of Gerstle Cove.
While admiring the tafoni along the coast, keep your eyes open for signs of drilling in these rocks. It is interesting to note that much of the sandstone used in the original San Francisco building came from this area. You may even spot a few eye bolts along Gerstle Cove, dating back to the time this place existed in the 19th century. Ships moored here in the eighteenth century.
Enjoy an unforgettable view of the underwater world
Salt Point State Park prides itself on protecting many fragile underwater ecosystems. In addition to the Salt Point Marine Conservation Area, Salt Point’s coastline includes protected areas such as the Gerstle Cove State Marine Sanctuary and the Stewarts Point Marine Sanctuary. In each of these areas there was an abundance of kelp, red abalone, starfish, and many other sea creatures.
The activities allowed in these reserves are kayaking and scuba diving. There are also horseback riding tours for those interested.
Although fishing is not allowed in Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve, there are several areas where licensed anglers can cast a line. Remember that you may only fish for pelagic fish on the Salt Point coast.
Licensed divers can also try their luck searching for red abalone at Salt Point. If you want to fish for this shellfish, read the red abalone management plan to better understand the state’s legal restrictions.
Camping in Salt Point State Park
Salt Point State Park has two large campgrounds: Oceanside Gerstle Cove and East Woodside. There are now 30 family campsites at Gerstle Cove and 79 at Woodside. Those wishing to camp at Salt Point can do so during the official camping season (March 15 to October 31).
Guest amenities at both sites include food storage areas, picnic areas, fire pits and restrooms. Just a word of warning: There are no garbage trucks or showers at these campgrounds.
As these campsites are often fully booked months in advance, it is best to book as early as possible. For more information on reserving a campsite in Salt Point, please visit this website or call a CA Parks representative at (800) 444-7275.
Salt Point State Park Hike
The best way to experience Salt Point’s unique flora and fauna is to hike one of the park’s many trails. Impressively, there are now 30 kilometers of hiking trails in this 6,000-acre park.
Below are two of the most popular hiking trails in Salt Point State Park. If you want to see a map of all these trails, be sure to visit this official PDF.
For the ultimate coastal experience, hike the eponymous Salt Point Trail. When you hike the Salt Point Trail, you get the full NorCal beach experience with inspiring views, pounding waves and unusual rock formations.
This trail is ideal for all skill levels and is only about three miles round trip. The Salt Point Trailhead is located either at the park visitor center or at the Stump Beach parking lot.
Dwarf forest road
While Salt Point’s coastline is impressive, be sure to explore the park’s equally stunning interior. In fact, on the highest peak of the park you will find a unique dwarf forest with many mini-sequoias and cypress trees.
To best experience the Salt Point Dwarf Forest, we recommend starting at the ranger center at the park entrance and following the central trail. After about 1.5 km, follow the sign to the northern path and enjoy the dwarf forest. Follow the north path until you reach the path of the water tank, then return to the central path. This 4-mile hike has an even slope and is generally considered moderately difficult.
What is the best time of year to visit Salt Point State Park?
Summer is the most popular time to visit Salt Point State Park because the weather conditions are more favorable. Although it’s usually never hot in Salt Point State Park, average summer temperatures hover around 65° F. Keep in mind that fog in the summer is not uncommon here.
Those who want to see whales should plan a visit to Salt Point State Park in the winter. Gray whales generally migrate along the Sonoma coast during the winter months. This is the perfect time to pull out the binoculars and enjoy the view.
What time does Salt Point State Park open?
Salt Point State Park is generally open every day of the week between sunrise and sunset. However, the visitor centre is only open between April and October, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm.
How much does it cost to go to Salt Point State Park?
If you park your car for a day in Salt Point, you pay $8. People camping in Salt Point must pay $35 per night and $8 for each additional vehicle. The cost for overflow in the campground is now set at $30 per night.
Are dogs allowed in Salt Point State Park?
Yes, you can bring your dog to Salt Point State Park, but they are not allowed on the beaches or hiking trails. If you go camping with your dog, leave him in a tent or car at night. Also, keep your dog on a leash before taking him to the park.
Why is this park called Salt Point?
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of salt on the coast of Salt Point – hence the park’s name. In fact, the main reason the park’s taphonic formations look the way they do is because of the deposition of salt.
Where to stay when visiting Salt Point State Park
As explained above, there are two campgrounds in Salt Point State Park if you want to stay a few nights. If you prefer to sleep in a comfortable hotel, check out these phenomenal accommodations.
Forest Bay Resort
Located just 3 miles south of Salt Point, the Timber Cover Resort is one of the closest hotels to this California state park. At the three-star Timber Cove Resort, guests can enjoy breathtaking coastal views, an outdoor fireplace and two hiking trails.
Click on this link from Booking.com for more information.
About 30 minutes south of Salt Point, the Jenner Inn is another good three-star hotel on the Sonoma Coast. At this historic hotel, guests enjoy benefits like free parking, free breakfast and pet-friendly rooms.
For more information, please visit the Booking.com website.
As always, tell us what you think! If you have visited Salt Point SP, we would love to hear your thoughts and tips. Leave a comment below!
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