You may not be up for camping where you get snowed in, but in many parts of the country, camping in November and December can be memorable.

It was the day after Thanksgiving and with stretched out bellies we threw our camping gear in our car, made sure we had hats, gloves, plenty of cocoa and we headed out of the city towards the Sonoma Coast. My husband had to work so I was initially reluctant to join our friends on the impromptu trip. I’m loath to admit it, but despite my claims of equality and the notion that I can do most anything I put my mind to, I usually wind up caring for the kids and organizing food when we go camping. Sometimes I over-think the food and this time I just raided the fridge and cabinets and grabbed what we had.

On a beautiful day, without much preparation, off we went. Near Jenner on the Sonoma Coast we turned inland to Pomo Canyon Campground; a stellar walk-in site for tents. The sites were nestled in the redwood forest, but rolling hills and coastal scenery were close by and the toasty autumn light accentuated the beauty of the surroundings. I discovered later in the week, that nearby, a new land trust had just been created called the Jenner Headlands. Run by the Sonoma Land Trust, the 5,630 acres were purchased adjacent to more than 13,000 acres of the Sonoma Coast State Park and will create more than 30 miles of a relatively unbroken stretch of preserved land from Bodega Head to Fort Ross.

The area is teeming with wildlife as we found out late at night when our camp was raided by a family of raccoons; the only moment I freaked out a bit on my own with my boys in the tent. Our group of three adults and four boys hiked, ate our motley, ad-hoc meals and explored the surroundings. We slept in our sleeping bags with both a quilt and a blanket to keep us warm. Tired from the day’s activities and looking forward to reading in the tent we all went to bed at about 8:30 and slept till 7:30; surprisingly we felt totally rested and chipper in the morning.

On our drive home, we stopped in Guerneville for possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever had at Flavors Unlimited. Now, if this getaway sounds appealing, minus the camping, I can recommend a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Gualala, just up the Highway 1 from Jenner.  The North Coast Country Inn would be fabulous in any season.  Great rooms, yummy breakfasts and a hot tub set in a redwood circle make this the perfect setting to experience the coast.  My husband and I spent a cozy, rainy weekend there without the kids, exploring the beaches, wineries and hiking trails of the Sonoma Coast.

Filed Under Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, California, Camping, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Food, Hike/Backpack


3 Responses to “Late-Autumn Camping on the Sonoma Coast”

  1. Elise on December 9th, 2008 11:29 pm

    That was fun to read Darya!
    I went Camping in YOsemite in early Oct it was so cold! Ice the one day
    But I survived and had a great time.

  2. california camping on April 19th, 2010 10:12 am

    Camping in winter is always fun for me, and i tried to do it every year with my family and took precautions to keep ourselves warm,

  3. Darya on April 20th, 2010 2:15 pm

    Agreed, one of the most miserable nights I’ve ever had was camping near Taos, NM at altitude — it got so cold my husband had ice on his goatee…never again — now I make sure to take extra gear just in case, always sleep in a hat, layers — we even have a giant purple wool blanket from my parents’ bed in the ’70s to take with us if we car camp…but it’s sure fun, because the days usually warm up!

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