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Nestled into the Mayacama Mountains, between Sonoma and Napa Valleys is the spectacular Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Conveniently located between Highways 12 and 128, travelers will have no problem accessing this park from the large cities of Sacramento, Santa Rosa, or even San Francisco.
Not established as a state park until 1962, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park has a rich heritage that dates back over 12,000 years ago. The Wappo Tribe were the first to settle here, using the waterways as means of transportation and survival. When the Spanish invaded in the late 18th century, the Wappo were forced to relocate, but evidence of their time here still remains in these prolific mountains.
Nowadays, travelers who book an RV in Sugarloaf Ridge Mountain Park to admire the impressive wildflowers, wander through the dense oak woodlands and marvel at the Sonoma Creek Canyon, all whilst surrounded by this rich history.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park stretches across 4,000 acres and boasts a wide range of recreational activities. And, with a temperate climate throughout the year, an RV rental here is pleasant all year round.
The state park is best explored by foot on one of the many hiking trails that wind through the mountainous terrain. With over 25 miles of hiking trails to choose from, all of varying difficulty levels, you will find something to suit your ability level. One of the most popular hikes in the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is to the top of Bald Mountain. This challenging hike sees an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet and rewards hikers with panoramic views over Napa Valley, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you may even be able to make out the Sierra Mountains in the distance! For those who are searching for a more family-friendly trail, try the Creekside Nature Trail. This paved, flat trail is just one-mile-long and the perfect opportunity to spot some of the local flora and fauna.
As well as the extensive hiking trails, there are over 21 miles of trails suitable for Mountain Bikers, including one that also leads to the summit of Bald Mountain.
Whilst out exploring the park look out for the seasonal, 25-foot waterfall that cascades down the rocky cliff face. Only appearing after the winter rains and drying up by late summer, the waterfall is the perfect refreshment after a hot hike or bike ride.
The Robert Ferguson Observatory is a must-see for anyone that has an RV rental near Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Surrounded by a ring of hills, this area of California receives little to no light pollution, making it the ideal place for some stargazing. This is the largest public observatory in the USA that is solely dedicated to public viewing and public education. As well as a new, high-tech, 40-inch telescope available for public use, the observatory organizes Night Sky classes on various fascinating topics and monthly star parties which are always a bit of fun.
RV camping at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is made even easier thanks to the on-site campground that is open all year-round. Equipping all of its 47 spacious pitches with their own table and fire ring, there is no feeling of stepping on your neighbor’s toes here. Although there are no hook-ups available, there are modern washroom facilities that come with beautifully hot showers. If you happen to be part of a large group, call ahead to reserve the group space that can cater for up to fifty people. Otherwise, individual sites are claimed on a first-come-first-serve basis, from 10 am each morning!
For those that were hoping for a slightly more luxurious camping experience, there is a KOA situated close to the town of Petaluma, around a forty-minute drive away. This claims to be one of the top-rated RV campgrounds in California. Kids will be kept entertained by the rock wall, jumping pillow and mega playground, whilst adults will be glad to know that the campground organizes tours of the surrounding wineries, breweries and cheese shops.
A rental motorhome at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park will give vacationers direct access to some of California’s best wineries. The fertile rolling hills in the area give rise to some of the tastiest grape varieties around; expect Chardonnays and punchy Cabernet Sauvignons. The majority of the wineries in the area are clustered around Kenwood, making it easy enough to enjoy a walking tour and take full advantage of the free samples!
It is well worth popping to the larger city of Santa Rosa, a twenty-minute drive away if you want to learn more about the area’s history. The Museum of Sonoma County is a community-led project, aiming to inspire visitors and the local community with creative and historical exhibitions. Comprising of two buildings, the museum houses up to twelve different exhibits at a time totaling around 18,000 artifacts that document the area’s rich history. Whilst in town, make sure to stock up on groceries and fuel, as prices are more reasonable and the selection more wide-ranging.
For any adventure seekers with an RV rental in the area, why not embark on a once in a lifetime ride in a hot air balloon. Although a little on the expensive side, the experience will seem more than worth it as soon as you catch your first bird’s eye view over the vineyards, lush farmland and green hills of Sonoma Valley. If you are okay with an early start, the hot air balloon at sunrise is absolutely spectacular and will be the perfect end to your RV camping adventure in California.