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The Top 5 Things To Do At Salt Point State Park

The Top 5 Things To Do At Salt Point State Park

Take some time to explore the wonders of Salt Point State Park, from hiking coastal trails to diving in kelp forests. Team


3 min read

July 14, 2023

Situated along the rugged Pacific coastline of Northern California, Salt Point State Park is a natural marvel spanning over 6,000 acres. This stunning blend of coastal, forest, and prairie ecosystems is situated in Sonoma County, approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco, and stretches for six miles along the coast.

Salt Point State Park offers visitors an eclectic mix of rocky beaches, coastal grasslands, and dense forests of bishop pine, redwoods, and tanoaks. It's named after the salt that crystallizes in the rocky outcroppings during certain parts of the year, a testament to the area's natural saltwater influence.

The area was inhabited by the Kashaya Pomo people, who relied on the land for sustenance and raw materials for centuries. In the mid-19th century, the region drew lumber mill operations that left their mark in the form of old mill sites and a timber chute, remnants of which can still be seen today. Officially established as a state park in 1968, Salt Point offers a unique blend of cultural and natural history.

The seaside views and breeze at Salt Point State Park are a sight to behold and are perfect companions for your explorations.

When to Visit Salt Point State Park


Springtime brings a dazzling display of wildflowers, painting the grasslands with vibrant hues. It's an excellent time for wildlife sightings, too. The trails are usually in good condition, making it a great time for hiking.


Summers are typically cool and foggy, perfect for those seeking a respite from the inland heat. It's also the ideal time for water sports like kayaking or scuba diving in the Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve, where you'll find kelp forests teeming with sea life.


As the summer fog dissipates, fall often brings the best coastal views, with clear skies and mild weather. It's a favorite time for photographers and sightseers. Also, keep an eye out for migrating gray whales heading south.


Winter can be wet and chilly but offers its own unique charms. Mushroom hunting is popular during this time, with the park hosting a variety of edible and visually intriguing species. Plus, the winter waves and storms can create dramatic seascapes.

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Top 5 Things to Do at Salt Point State Park

Hiking the Trails

Among the best ways to explore Salt Point State Park is by hiking its 20 miles of trails. Each trail offers a unique glimpse into the diverse ecosystems. One standout is the Salt Point Trail, a six-mile trek along the coastal bluffs, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the Stump Beach Trail winds through a serene pygmy forest to a secluded sandy cove.\

Take the trails and soak in the incredible views at Salt Point State Park.

Exploring the Tafoni

A truly unique feature of Salt Point State Park is the tafoni, intricate honeycomb-like formations in the park's sandstone cliffs. The best examples of these natural wonders are found along the Tafoni Trail, which includes an observation deck where visitors can get a closer look. Remember, while tempting, carving or damaging the tafoni is strictly prohibited to preserve them for future generations.

The striking tafoni formations are a great attraction for visiting Salt Point State Park.

Wildlife and Bird Watching

The park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. On land, you might spot black-tailed deer, raccoons, or even the elusive bobcat. In the marine reserve, sea lions, harbor seals, and sea otters are common sights. For birdwatchers, the park's diverse habitats attract a variety of species, including ospreys, red-tailed hawks, and numerous shorebirds.

Diving in Gerstle Cove

Gerstle Cove, a designated underwater park within the Salt Point State Park, is an excellent spot for diving. The kelp forests teem with marine life, making it a favorite destination for both novice and experienced divers. Before you dive, make sure to obtain a diving permit and follow all park rules to protect the delicate underwater ecosystem.

The rugged Gerstle Cove is a wonderful place to visit if you're interested in diving.

Camping Under the Stars

For a fully immersive experience, consider camping at one of Salt Point State Park's campgrounds. Both Gerstle Cove and Woodside campgrounds offer picturesque settings and easy access to the park's amenities. Whether you're stargazing, roasting marshmallows, or simply enjoying the tranquility, camping is an unforgettable way to experience the park.

From the unique geological formations of the tafoni to the stunning coastal views, Salt Point State Park offers a wealth of natural wonders that captivate and inspire. Whether you're an avid hiker, a diving enthusiast, or a wildlife lover, the park offers an abundance of activities to engage and delight. Take a journey through the park's trails, delve beneath the surface of Gerstle Cove, or simply bask in the tranquility of this coastal gem. It's more than just a destination; it's a vibrant and diverse ecosystem inviting you to explore and appreciate its many facets.

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