Fort Ross Activities

Sonoma County

Nearby Attractions

Stillwater Cove
Regional Park

22455 Highway 1
Jenner, CA
Beach boat launch, diving and kayaking
Historic Fort Ross Schoolhouse
Open sunrise to sunset
Stillwater Cove Regional Park

Gualala Point Regional Park

42401 Highway 1
The Sea Ranch, CA
Day hiking, picnicking, coastal vistas, beaches
Open 6 AM to sunset in summer, 8 AM in winter
Gualala Point Regional Park

WaterTrek EcoTours

10438 Highway 1
Jenner, CA
Guided interpretive tours for hiking or kayaking
Kayak the Jenner Estuary
Kayak rentals
WaterTrek EcoTours

River Riders Bicycle Rentals

Guerneville based bicycle rentals
Free delivery within 15 miles
Ride along the Russian River
(707) 483-2897
River Riders Bicycle Rentals

Doran Regional Park

201 Doran Beach Rd.
Bodega Bay, CA
Beaches, birding, camping, fishing, trails, kayaking, picnicking
Open 7:00 AM to sunset
$7 per vehicle
Doran Regional Park

Westside Regional Park

2400 Westshore Drive
Bodega Bay. CA
Birding, camping, fishing, kayaking and canoeing, picnicking, boat ramp
Open 7:00 AM to sunset
$7 per vehicle
Westshore Regional Park



Fort Ross Activities

Activities at Fort Ross State Park for the most part center around the history of the region, including the Russian stockade, the adjoining buildings, the orchard and windmill, and the cemetery. Other activities are focused more on the ocean. These activities include diving and fishing.

Visiting Fort Ross

The Russian established Fort Ross as a trading and supply outpost beginning in 1812 and operated and expanded the settlement through most of the first half of the 19th century. Among the key buildings worth visiting are the chapel, the stockade, two corner blockhouses, a cluster of four buildings known as the Kuskov House, and the Officials Barracks. At noon and at 2:00 PM on weekends the park staff provides free, half-hour, historic talks in the compound.

Interior of the stockade, Fort Ross State Historic park, CA

Most visitors must park in the parking lot near the Visitor Center, but drivers may drop off passengers closer to the fort compound before returning to park. Those with handicapped placards may park near the fort.

Picnic tables are located near the parking lot, also at the Call House in the orchard, at Sandy Cove, and inside the fort compound.

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center serves as a focal point for park activities. Within the center is a museum with exhibits covering the various eras of the park's history. Also on display are artifacts recovered from the Russian cemetery.

The Fort Ross Conservancy Bookshop is located in the Visitor Center. They sell children's items related to Fort Ross, memorabilia, jewelry, and books. They do carry pre-packaged snacks and bottled water, along with some Russian snack foods and chocolate.

Hiking

Pedestrian trails lead to Sandy Cove from the stockade, from the cemetery, and from the Reef Campgound. Other trails take hikers out along the bluffs overlooking the northern part of the park. Hikers should not approach the edge of cliffs, which might crumble unexpectedly.

Fort Ross Conservancy Events

The Fort Ross Conservancy works with the state park in preservation, restoration, and research projects at Fort Ross. They offer a variety of interpretive and educational activities. A sample of the events held in 2016 are listed here. For the most current information visit the Events page on their website.

  • Interpretive Hikes at Fort Ross and nearby Salt Point
  • Farallon Islands presentation, March 12, 2106
  • Alaska Native Day, May 21, 2016
  • Fort Ross Festival, July 30, 2016
  • Harvest Festival, October 15, 2016













Diving at Fort Ross

Sandy Cove Beach is the most popular entry point for divers at Fort Ross. The sheltered beach provides easy access into the water. The entire area around the cove is designated as an Underwater Park, open to various diving activities including spearfishing and investigating underwater sites. Divers find the visibility improves outside the immediate cove area. Kelp beds and fish are plentiful.

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.

Free Diving for Red Abalone

A large section of the water off the coast of Fort Ross has recently (April, 2014) been designated as an area where no red abalone fishing is allowed. Areas along the northern part of Fort Ross, however, are open for red abalone fishing during season. The abalone are usually found from shallow water down to 100 feet. Using an abalone iron, free divers pry legal-size abalone from the rock. Free diving is the only legal method for diving for red abalone in California. The season is open from April to November, but there are restrictions in certain areas and divers should check California Fishing Regulations before setting out.

Sonoma Coast Divers

Sonoma Coast Divers offers abalone diving classes along the coast north of Jenner. In the classes they teach about the equipment needed for free diving, identifying the shellfish, free diving techniques, and how to remove the abalone from the rocks. Most of the necessary equipment can be rented from them.

Fort Ross windmill, Fort Ross State Historic park, CA

Replica of Historic Stolbovka Windmill

Diving at the Wreckage Site of the S. S. Pomona

The wreckage of the steamship S. S. Pomona, which ran around in 1908, draws interest from divers. Among the parts of the ship visible on the sea floor are the steam engine, boilers, the drive train, cargo hatches, and the steering assembly.
For more information about the S. S. Pomona, see the S. S. Pomona Shipwreck Project conducted by Indiana University.



Fishing along the Sonoma Coast

Anglers along the Sonoma Coast are cautious of the waves as they fish for perch, salmon, smelt, steelhead, and rockfish. Check Fish and Wildlife regulations before setting out.
California Fishing Regulations

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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