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Overview

Colloquially called the Redwood Coast, the Sonoma coastline offers a breathtaking vista around every bend. Highway 1 hugs the shore for more than 100 miles, serving up mile after mile of rugged cliffs and beaches sculpted with arched rocks and tidepools. Clifftop meadows cloaked in orange California poppies merge into soaring mountains clad in redwoods. There are even coastal rhododendron reserves, and a Pygmy Forest at wind-whipped Van Damme State Park (in Mendocino County). You might recognize Bodega Bay, with its quiet fishing harbor surrounded by bleak treeless hills, as a setting for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Northwards, ...

Colloquially called the Redwood Coast, the Sonoma coastline offers a breathtaking vista around every bend. Highway 1 hugs the shore for more than 100 miles, serving up mile after mile of rugged cliffs and beaches sculpted with arched rocks and tidepools. Clifftop meadows cloaked in orange California poppies merge into soaring mountains clad in redwoods. There are even coastal rhododendron reserves, and a Pygmy Forest at wind-whipped Van Damme State Park (in Mendocino County). You might recognize Bodega Bay, with its quiet fishing harbor surrounded by bleak treeless hills, as a setting for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Northwards, Sonoma Coast Beach Park extends along 15 miles of shore ending at Goat Rock. The Russian River pours into the sea near Jenner, where the barking of seals mingles with the crash of the surf. Farther up the road, wooden 1812 Fort Ross recalls the era when Russian fur traders settled the region. In summer, head to Gualala for the Arts in the Redwoods festival. The Pacific waters are known for abalone, drawing divers willing to brave the cold. California gray whales migrate along the coast November-December, and February-April, when adult mothers bring their young close to shore.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

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    Weather is unpredictable. Summer is cool and foggy; winter often clear and warm.