Featuring a beautiful coastline, tide pools, hiking trails, and surrounded by incredible scenery, Salt Point State Park is packed with activities and relaxation opportunities for all RV travelers. Located 90 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, Salt Point State Park encompasses 6,000 acres near the town of Jenner, California. Salt Point State Park is composed of unique geologic formations that helped build the city of San Francisco in the mid-1800s. The coastline is dotted with numerous caverns formed from tafoni, which is an eroded sandstone feature of a honeycomb system that includes knobs, ridges, spines, and caves. The area was originally home to the Kashaya Pomo Indians, who collected salt from the numerous caverns made of tafoni.
You'll love exploring the unique natural attractions of Salt Point State Park. The park features plenty of diversity, from six miles of coastline and 20 miles of hiking trails, to a marine sanctuary that is perfect for scuba divers. Along the coastline, you will find dramatic views from rocky outcrops, thrashing surf, and beach areas that will delight you. Inland, the grasslands are dotted with forest, hills climbing up into the air, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the tranquility. Northern California has a climate all of its own, with temperatures fluctuating when the fog rolls inland. Be prepared for a little sun, rain, and definitely some wind.
There are two RV campgrounds within Salt Point State Park and a further overflow camping area for late arrivers who didn't manage to secure a site. The campgrounds are located on opposite sides of Highway One and feature their own unique characteristics that make them special. The peak season at Salt Point State Park runs from April through October, and the park is open all year round.
Driving to and from Salt Point State Park is very straightforward since the park is located on either side of Pacific Highway One. The park has one main entrance, and both of the campground roads are located directly off the highway. Navigating in and around the park roads is a little more difficult, especially for new RV drivers. Just south of Miller Creek, the highway makes a wide turn and at Miller Creek, you need to be prepared for a hairpin turn. North of Miller Creek up to Phillip Gulch there are some tricky turns, especially around the Stump Beach Cove turnout.
The southern portion of the park continues with undulating roads with several hairpin turns around the campground entrances. The tricky turns and terrain make maneuvering difficult, which is part of the reason why RVs over 31 feet in length are not recommended. The campground loop roads are narrow and hard to navigate for larger RVs. Within the campgrounds, the speed limit is 15 mph. Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians while driving along the campground loops.
Parking is available at the campgrounds and day-use parking lot and from there you can walk down to the beach.
Located on the oceanside of the park, Gerstle Cove Campground is the place to stay if you are looking to experience stunning coastal views. This is the smaller of the two reservable campsites at Salt Point State Park and contains 30 paved sites that are not too close to each other. Some of the sites are located in the trees, so you have the option of a more private camping experience. While the sites are decently sized, any RV over 31 feet in length won't be able to stay here.
The Gerstle Cove Campground is regarded as being a wonderful campground in part to the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. Each site contains a fire ring, picnic table, and food storage locker, but there are no full-service hookups within the campground. Other amenities in the campground include several drinking water stations and multiple restroom blocks. You won't have access to showers or a dump station if you stay here, so keep that in mind.
Reservations are highly recommended for the Gerstle Cove Campground since its a very popular campground. All sites are usually full on the weekends between April in September, so if you plan on visiting during this time make sure you call the park office to reserve your site.
The Woodside Campground is the larger of the two reservable RV campgrounds within Salt Point State Park. Here you will find 79 campsites spread across two loops. There is a picnic table, fire ring, and a food storage locker at each site, and RVs up to 31 feet in length can be accommodated.
Woodside Campground offers shelter from the winds, privacy, and a wooded camping experience since the campground is located over the other side of Highway One. Like Gerstle Cove, there are no hookups in any configurations available, so you will need to be prepared for non-electric camping. The campground has various drinking water stations situated throughout the loops, as well as restrooms. Showers and a dump station are also not available here. You will struggle to get cell phone reception inside the campground, but there is some available near the beach. You are able to bring your furry friend to the campground, and it is open all year round.
In the event that you aren't able to find a site at Gerstle and Woodside Campgrounds, you should consider staying at the Overflow Campground. This campground is located past the Gerstle Campground towards the ocean and features a gravel parking lot where you can set up your RV. The sites at the Overflow Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis only, and there are no amenities such as drinking water, restrooms, or full-service hookups.
If you do stay at the Overflow Campground you won't be able to have a fire or set up a tent. Most visitors to the Overflow Campground are travelers who make a spontaneous trip to the park.
Salt Point State Park has an excellent Visitor Center that sports a number of interactive exhibits explaining the park's eco-system and wildlife. Open from April until October, the center contains exhibits on the natural, cultural, and land-use histories of the area. There is a junior ranger program for young children, as well as ranger-led nature hikes. In the evening, the park also hosts several ranger lectures that are geared toward environmental protection of the area. If you are interested in attending one of these talks, check the park office for the schedule.
Scuba diving and free diving are two other activities you can take advantage of while at Salt Point State Park. The Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve was one of the first protected underwater areas in the state of California and is a very popular place for seeing what lies beneath the sea. Divers can take advantage of the sandy beach to enter or they can also use a small rowboat. The marine reserve is home to one of the largest bull kelp forests along the coast that features the slow-growing red abalone. Scuba diving and free diving should only be done by those who are experienced since it is a very dangerous activity.
Visitors take advantage of the numerous water sports available at the oceanside park. Surfers can ride the highly challenging waves all year-round. There are plenty of good spots to access the waves from, such as Stump Cove Beach. Windsurfing is also a popular water sport in the area, and thanks to the constant winds many choose to glide across the Pacific Ocean. If you are a keen sea kayaker, you can also explore the beautiful coastline, but this is only recommended for experienced paddlers used to rough ocean conditions.
During the winter months, visitors can catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales on their way to Baja, California. One of the best overlooks for viewing is Sentinel Rock near the Fisk Mill Cove day-use area. There are two hiking trails along the cliffs, Salt Point Trail and the Grace Rock Trail, which offer spectacular gray whale viewing options as well. If you are lucky you may also get to spot other marine life during your visit such as seals, starfish, and sea lions.
Fishing at Salt Point State Park is an ideal activity during your RV vacation. The coastline offers an abundance of surf fishing that is rare in most parks around the country. Angling techniques vary from rod and reel to diving and spearfishing so there is a large range of choice in regards to how you can fish. Besides abalone, visitors can expect to catch greenling, rockfish, finfish, and rock crab in the waters that are filled with kelp. Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve and portions of the Stewarts Point State Marine Reserve are off-limits to all types of fishing or collecting of abalone, so make sure you stick to the legal areas.
Hiking at Salt Point State Park is a great way to explore the area and is suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels. The park sports 20 miles of established trails and six miles of coastline waiting for you to explore. One of the highlights is a trail system that runs through an incredibly rare dwarf forest. The forest features redwood, undersized pine, and cypress trees. There is also extensive hiking in grassland meadows and prairies within the park. Along the six miles of coastline, there are several lookouts for excellent gazing out over the Pacific Ocean. The unique tafoni formations are home to hundreds of tide pools that are teeming with marine life.