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Fort Ross State Historic Park

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Reservation Status: Not Accepted First come, first served

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Fort Ross
Copyright: - California State Parks
Fort Ross
Description - Fort Ross State Historic Park was established in 1812 by Russians as an outpost for sea otter hunters and a permanent trade base. It was the southernmost outpost of a Russian presence in the Pacific Northwest. The Russians remained at Fort Ross until sea otters became scarce in 1841. The holdings were sold to John Sutter, who later became famous when gold was discovered at his saw mill in the Sierra Nevada foothills. None of the original fort structures remain, however several buildings have been reconstructed: the first Russian Orthodox chapel south of Alaska, the stockade, and three other buildings, including the Commander's House, which contains exhibits of the Russian-American Fur Company and the Russian occupation.

Recreation - 20 primitive sites - no showers. Please contact the park directly for detailed camping availability.

Climate - Summers are generally mild. Fog is often encountered near the coastline, with sunny, warmer weather more common inland in the foothills. Winters are generally cool with considerable precipitation. Wear layers of clothing to accommodate cool to warm temperatures and good walking shoes. Rain protection should be included at any time of year.

Location - The park is 12 miles north of Jenner on Highway One.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Leila Kincaid (Guerneville, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Fort Ross state Historic Park should be included in anyone's excursion north of Jenner on Highway 1. It is only about a 15 minute drive from Jenner on 1, where the Lost Coast of California begins its winding route all the way to the Oregon Border. Once you pass Mintz Ranch Road (on the East side of Hwy 1 and Russian Gulch-a cozy little beach cove for day picnics) Hwy 1 begins its ascent up to 1000 ft above sea level with several shoulders less than 5 feet to the cliff drop-offs to the craggy ocean beaches below. This is an absolutely breath-taking drive, with many turn outs that you should use for picture taking, and enjoyment of scenic vistas of Bodega head. You will pass Dead Man's Point, the highest elevation of Hwy 1 on your drive to Fort Ross. It's not marked by a sign, but is noted on many Sonoma County and Camping/Hiking maps. I personally was almost killed at this point when a big Cal Trans truck turned the sharp corner while halfway in the oceanside lane that I was driving in. If it were not for the sportscar I was driving and my defensive driving skills, which included anticipation of lane crossing at every corner, I would have been pushed off the cliff. Luckily I skirted my car JUST BARELY to the edge of the cliff and excelerated to the Dead Man's Point turn out to safety. The truck continued on, without checking back for my safety. When I finally caught my breath and gained my composure, I walked down the edge of the cliff to inspect where my tires made a mark in the dirt... they were less than 1 foot from the cliff edge - the 1000 foot cliff edge to a rocky beach with crashing waves below..... I got back in my car and drove North to the Fort Ross store (2 miles north of Fort Ross State Historic park) and bought the first pack of cigarettes I'd ever smoked in my life. I told the story to the store clerk, who adivised me to check into a hotel room (which I did). Nevertheless, the drive north of Jenner is beautiful and breathtaking, and once you get to Fort Ross, turning into the park on the west side of Hwy 1 where there is a big wooden Fort Ross sign, you'll pay the park fee of $5.00 and drive 40 yards to the parking lot. There is a visitor center, museum, and trailhead that goes up and down the entire 1000+ acre park on the rugged cliffs. There is a graveyard, beach, and rock outcropping area to climb on. To be continued....

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Camping 20 primitive sites - no showers.
ICON History
ICON Historic Sites (major)
ICON Viewing Historic Sites

More Information

Contact Information:
Russian River-Mendocino District Headquarters, 25381 Steelhead Boulevards , Duncans Mills, CA, 95430, Phone: 707-865-2391, Fax: 707-865-2046

Additional Information:
California's Historic Sites - This section includes the major historic sites within California. California's rich history is showcased in its many historic sites and monuments.
North Coast State Parks and Beaches - The North Coast Region, stretches nearly 400 miles, from just north of San Francisco to the Oregon border. It is a land of rugged shoreline and pounding surf, of towering redwood forests and rushing rivers, of verdant hills and bountiful vineyards.

California State Parks - Official agency website.


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