This Marine Conservation Area comprises the shoreline of Salt Point State Park and surrounding ocean, including Gerstle Cove, the watery highlight of one of California’s first underwater parks. Waters here teem with life, including swaying strands of bull kelp, making it popular with wetsuit divers, but everyone can enjoy the colorful sea stars, bizarre chitons, scurrying crabs, and other sea life in the spread of tide pools along the shore.
Salt Point State Park contains some 20 miles of spectacular coastal trails. Be sure to visit the wooden deck at Sentinel Rock for ultra-scenic views of wave-washed sea stacks. Bring a cozy beach blanket for a visit to park’s secluded beach at Stump Beach Cove. Salt Point’s pretty campsites get snapped up fast, so be sure to book well in advance, especially on weekends and in summer.
About six miles south on State 1, Fort Ross State Historic Park let you step back to the 1800s when Russian fur trappers, farmers, and Native Americans lived in this impressive waterfront compound circled by a wooden wall. Nearby, relax at Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery, savoring Sonoma County wines and a(nother) jaw-dropping coastal panorama.