The California Coastline is renowned for its spectacular cliffs, rocky outcroppings, pebble beaches, black sand beaches, lighthouses, Redwood forests, and waterfalls plummeting off cliffs onto Sandy beaches below.

Massive waves crashing on a boulder near Bodega Bay
Massive waves crashing on a boulder near Bodega Bay

The Sonoma Coast State Park in Sonoma County has most of these things and more. If you start at Bodega Bay and drive north, you will find most stops than you can make in one day…or even three (I just finished my third visit this month!).

Gazing off into the Horizon near the Arched Rock along Sonoma Coast State Park
Gazing off into the Horizon near the Arched Rock along Sonoma Coast State Park

Its only just over 1.5 hours north of San Francisco and well worth the day trip. From the quaint little resort town of Bodega Bay you head north stopping to see numerous waterfalls rushing over 50 feet over the cliff’s edges onto the sand below. I imagine all the rain we’ve been getting has greatly improved the quality of these waterfalls. The hills slope away from the beaches behind and are dotted with sturdy trees and covered in green grass.

A fun rock to climb and watch the waves on Goat Rock State Beach
A fun rock to climb and watch the waves on Goat Rock State Beach

A pull off not far north brings you to Arched Rock, an amazing arch out in the ocean perpetually pummeled by gargantuan waves.

Long Exposure over the Sonoma Coast at a dynamic sunset
Long Exposure over the Sonoma Coast at a dynamic sunset

A few miles father and you reach my favorite spot: Goat Rock State Beach. Here you can turn down a poorly maintained narrow road that leads down to the beach itself and allows you to park feet from the waves. To the right is the Russian River, powerful and flooded at my last visit, spilling muddied water into the Pacific Ocean, changing its color for miles. To the left is another beautiful arched rock and some of the most spectacular sunset watching I’ve seen in California. 

Spectacular Sunset Views on Goat Rock State Beach
Spectacular Sunset Views on Goat Rock State Beach

Continue across the Russian River north through Jenner, CA and you will find several small pull-off with hidden trails leading to secret beaches. My favorite one, not more than a mile north of Jenner, has ropes leading down the embankment to help you climb down to a spectacular pebble beach below. If you make it safely down, hike to the right, following the beach to a huge rocky outcropping where waves splash 30 feet or more over impressive boulders, drenching the rocks below and you if you get too close (Yes of course I got to close).

Directing the waves at a hidden beach just passed Jenner CA
Directing the waves at a hidden beach just passed Jenner CA

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