Sonoma County Outdoor Recreation Month
Santa Rosa, Calif. – Celebrate one of California’s most diverse natural destinations as Sonoma County announces its inaugural Outdoor Recreation Month in May.
Breathe deep: More than 60 regional and state parks beckon travelers to hike through oak-studded hills, zip-line through redwood trees, paddle along the coast, discover California history, or just sit down and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Protected lands include beaches, mountains, lakes, forests, and fields, proving this area is much more than Sonoma Wine Country.
“May has been designated as Sonoma County Outdoor Recreation Month and this is a wonderful introduction to the diversity Sonoma County has to offer,” said Birgitt Vaughan, public relations manager of Sonoma County Tourism.
The Outdoor Writers Association of California is hosting its annual spring conference in Sonoma County to, in part, help celebrate the destination’s rich tapestry of outdoor adventures.
“Beyond our wonderful parks, our outdoor activities also include vineyards tours, fishing, horseback riding, golf, Luther Burbank Experiment Farm, Safari West, Sonoma Raceway experiences, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, hot air balloon rides, and much more,” Vaughan added.
Celebrate Sonoma County Outdoor Recreation Month while saving a little green with fantastic travel deals. Find special offers for outdoor events and activities, lodging, dining, wine tasting, and more at SonomaCounty.com/deals. Filter for “Outdoor Activities” to see just those offers.
Many of the county’s wineries are encouraging guests to get outside by offering, strolls through the property – you may even encounter an 800-pound pig, a sensory tour, or scenic picnic spots overlooking the vineyards, pristine park lands, or Lake Sonoma.
New activities are available to enjoy Sonoma County’s great outdoors. Ride a horse along one of six trails at The Ranch at Lake Sonoma. Explore Modini Mayacamas Preserves, a new 3,000-acre sanctuary on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains above Highway 128 in the Alexander Valley. Pull out the pedal power with the new Windsor Bike ‘n Brew Tour from Ace It! Bike Tours, which offers other cycling tours.
Here are a few favorite Sonoma County parks, in no particular order.
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
The serene, majestic beauty of Armstrong Grove is a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th century. Armstrong Redwoods preserves stately and magnificent Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the coast redwood.
The coast redwood is the tallest living thing on Earth. These remarkable trees live to be 500 to 1,000 years old, grow to a diameter of 12-16 feet, and stand from 200-250 feet tall. They are classified as temperate rainforests and need wet and mild climates to survive. The rainfall in Armstrong Redwoods averages 55 inches per year and the trees are often shrouded in a mystical fog that helps to maintain the moist conditions needed for the redwoods to survive. www.parks.ca.gov
Jack London State Park
Author Jack London, “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” was a pioneer in the world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first Americans to make a lucrative career exclusively from writing.
Jack London State Park offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the author and his wife, Charmian, including the ruins of their dream home, Wolf House, which burned down during construction. Other historic buildings demonstrate early 20th century ranching life. London was also a celebrated rancher and steward of the land. www.jacklondonpark.com
Enjoy the park in a magical way by Transcendence Theatre’s “Broadway Under The Stars” annual concert series (summer only), featuring Broadway performers. Find out more details and purchase tickets at http://www.transcendencetheatre.org
Fort Ross State Historic Park
Fort Ross State Historic Park is one of the oldest historical park units in the California State Park System, in 1908. Ross, the name derived from the word for Russia (Rossiia), was established by the Russian-American Company, a commercial hunting and trading company. The bicentennial of the founding of Fort Ross was celebrated in 2012.
Trade was vital to Russian outposts in Alaska, where long winters exhausted supplies and settlements could not grow enough food to support themselves. Fort Ross was established as a food source for Alaska and to hunt profitable sea otters.
Fort Ross offers educational programs including overnights, full-day programs, school presentations, and more. The park is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and major holidays from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. www.fortrossstatepark.org
Sonoma Coast State Park
Long sandy beaches below rugged headlands, a craggy coastline with natural arches and secluded coves are features that make Sonoma Coast State Park one of California’s most scenic attractions.
Sonoma Coast State Beach, actually a series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands, extends 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail located four miles north of Jenner. Beachcombers, fishermen, sunbathers and picnickers can access the beach from more than a dozen points along Highway 1. Camping is available at Wright’s Beach. www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/sonomacoaststatepark.htm
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Sugar wasn’t always sold in neat packages. Before 1900, it came in loaves. The southern edge of this park was named after the familiar “sugarloaf.” The park is located in the Mayacamas Mountains between the Sonoma and Napa valleys. On clear days the view includes portions of the San Francisco Bay Area and even a glimpse of the Sierra Nevada. www.sugarloafpark.org
Ferguson Observatory: In 1996, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park became the home of the largest observatory in the western United States, which is completely dedicated to public viewing and education. For public viewing schedule, visit www.rfo.org.
Spring Lake Regional Park
Spring Lake is one of Santa Rosa’s insider secrets. Combined with Annadel State Park, this large preserve on the eastern edge of the city sits at the northern entrance to the Sonoma Valley.
The 320-acre park features camping, fishing, picnic areas with barbecues, and four group picnic areas. Trails are available for walking, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. There is also a three-acre swimming lagoon and a 72-acre lake.
Don’t forget to visit the Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake for a wonderful all-age educational experience.
Helen Putnam Regional Park
Helen Putnam Park is characteristic of the terrain: broad vistas, rolling hills of green (winter) or gold (summer) and easy access to Petaluma.
This 216-acre park offers panoramic views of southern Sonoma County and northern Marin County. The park has trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. A gazebo, picnic area, and children’s playground are located at the trail head. There is a large pond for fishing (bluegill mostly). http://www.sonoma-county.org/parks/pk_helen.htm
Nestled in the beautiful coastal foothills of Sonoma County, Lake Sonoma is surrounded by world-famous vineyards and land that is rich in history. Created by the construction of Warm Springs Dam in 1983, the lake provides for flood control, irrigation, and recreation. When full, the lake has a surface area of more than 2,700 acres and 50 miles of shoreline, forming the perfect setting for a wealth of recreational activities.