It’s found along one of the most scenic coastal routes in the world and surrounded by some of California’s most iconic beauty—panoramic coves, redwoods, beach after glorious beach. Fort Ross State Historic Park
, just north of Jenner, couldn’t be in a better location—and that’s likely what the first settlers here thought, too. The park has a rich and diverse cultural history, primarily as a Russian-era compound and successful multicultural settlement for trade and exploration. It was also the site of California’s first windmills. There’s a lot of land here—3,400 acres—so a visit lets you combine outdoor exploration with the novelty of exploring historic structures within an impressively maintained fort. You may even get to check out a live demo. From the visitor center make your way into the fort to check out several buildings and structures, like Rotchev House, the only original Russian-built structure at Fort Ross. The chapel is another highlight, constructed in the early 1800s and used for Orthodox religious services. Beyond the fort walls, the Russian Orchard sits on the hill to the north, and a short coastal walk takes you down to Sandy Cove, a beautiful hidden beach with a rich history for transporting supplies. You can also walk up to the Russian Cemetery east of the fort, marked by wooden crosses on a grassy knoll overlooking the Pacific.
Fort Ross is home to Reef Campground, which opened on April 1 for the 2015 season. This first-come, first-served campground has 19 tent sites tucked away from the highway. From camp there’s a path leading to a rocky beach. There’s also a short trail (about a fifteen minute walk) that leads to Sandy Cove and Fort Ross. Sites are $35/night. The campground is dog-friendly!
Fort Ross State Historic Park is 12 miles north of Jenner, on Hwy. 1. No dogs inside the fort, but Reef Campground is dog-friendly.
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