Home » 2015 Seattle, San Francisco, and Sierra

Sebastopol and Sonoma County, CA

Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 10:45am by Lolo
0 miles and 0 hours from our last stop - 4 night stay


Salt Point State Park Coastline WildflowersSalt Point State Park Coastline WildflowersThe vacation had entered its final stages, and in four days we would be back home in New Jersey. The only remaining event was a dual birthday celebration in Sebastopol for Celeste’s dad and me.

We left Lee Vining and headed back to Petaluma via the South Lake Tahoe route rather than driving across Tioga Pass. The drive back and the following day of RV maintenance and packing were uneventful. We tried to get everything that needed to be done completed on Friday, so that we could leave the entire weekend open to celebration, family time, and fun.

On Friday night, we moved the motorhome up to Sebastopol to park in Celeste’s parent’s driveway so that we could be close to all the action. Andrew and Celeste would be arriving later that night after driving up from San Francisco.

Salt Point State Park Sand EyesSalt Point State Park Sand EyesSaturday was Paul’s big day – his 60th birthday, although his activity level puts most people half his age to shame. The big question was how to spend it. He had already decided that a hike with good food and friends was the way he wanted to celebrate, but the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating. Heavy fog and drizzle was forecast for the coast, which was Hilda’s first choice for a venue worthy of this important milestone.

We debated back and forth as to whether to play it safe and stay somewhere inland, or take a chance and head to Salt Point State Park along the northern Sonoma coast. The consensus, although not unanimous, was to” go big or go home.” Determined to have a good time, and to prove Celeste (the one dissenting vote) wrong, we headed out in two cars towards the Salt Point.

There were eight of us –Herb and me, Celeste and Andrew, Hilda and Paul, and their dear friends Leanne and Guy – the most enthusiastic and fun group any birthday boy could ask for.

Salt Point State Park SurfSalt Point State Park SurfThe drive was typical for the northern California coast – steep, twisting, a bit foggy, but stunningly beautiful. For us New Jerseyites, battling carsickness on a casual weekend drive was part of the event – a rite of passage if we ever hoped to be accepted when we moved.

I am so glad we went to Salt Point rather than an inland hike, not just because the sun came out, but because it was so very amazing. The entire northern California coastline is stunningly beautiful, but this place was particularly unique.

After a delicious birthday celebratory picnic atop a bluff, we set off along a rocky promontory overlooking the crashing surf below. As beautiful as the sea was, the rocks stole the show. Weathering and the sea had outdone itself in creating fantastical formations, like the three heads and another large rock that looked exactly like a pig. However, the most unusual and beautiful feature along the sandstone cliffs is the intricate honeycomb-like network called tafoni, formed by the salt in the sea spray crystallizing and interacting with the sandstone. They reminded me of the huecos we had encountered when rock climbing in desert areas such as Smith Rock in Bend and again in Bishop.

Climbers Bouldering at Salt Point State ParkClimbers Bouldering at Salt Point State ParkIt must have reminded Andrew and Celeste as well, because they had a great time clambering on the rocks as if they were at an outdoor climbing gym.

The day was perfect. The only thing that could have made it better is if we had been here at low tide, when a vast array of tide pools is exposed. That’s okay. That gave us an excuse to come back another time.

The next day was my birthday – not quite as traumatic as Paul’s hitting 60, but pretty darn close. We had a delicious brunch at Peter Lowells, an organic cuisine in Sebastopol – is there anything but?

Since our flight was tomorrow night, we decided to take Andrew and Celeste up on their offer to stay at their place in San Francisco tonight so that we didn’t have to deal with the logistics of getting to the airport from Petaluma tomorrow. Plus that way we could go rock climbing at Planet Granite for my birthday.



Salt Point State Park CoastlineSalt Point State Park CoastlineSebastopol is a charming town in Sonoma County, 52 miles north of San Francisco and about a 20-minute drive to the coast. Sebastopol is known for its apples and hosts an annual Apple Blossom Festival in April and the Gravenstein Apple Fair in August. Today, however, the apple orchards are becoming vineyards as wine-making moves more and more into the region.

Every Sunday, from April to mid-December, there is a Farmers market in the downtown plaza, where people congregate to enjoy delicious fresh regional food, live music, and dancing.

Sebastopol is home to the artist, Patrick Amiot, known for his whimsical, cartoon-like, junk-art sculptures. There are over 200 of his wacky, found-object works scattered throughout Sebastopol, especially on Florence Street.

Side Trip from Sebastopol

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park Coastline WildflowersSalt Point State Park Coastline WildflowersSalt Point State Park is a 6,000-acre park along the rugged northern California coast, about 90 miles north of San Francisco on State Highway 1, named for the cliffs and crevices where salt spray from the sea has crystallized in sandstone depressions forming intricate honeycomb-like network called tafoni.

The park features 6 miles of rocky coastline, line with jagged rock and steep ocean cliffs, including Salt Point which juts out into the Pacific Ocean. During low tide, these rocks provide an array of tide pools to explore. The park also encompasses one of the first underwater parks in California: Gerstle Cove, where fishing is prohibited.

There are two campgrounds and more than 20 miles of hiking trails in the park. Activities in the park include hiking, camping, picnicking, tide pooling, fishing, scuba diving, and rock bouldering.

Sebastopol and Sonoma County location map in "high definition"

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