Fort Ross State Historic Park

Update (January 4, 2021): California has issued a Regional Stay at Home Order to stop the surge of COVID-19 cases and prevent a strain on the health care system. This action will help protect critical care for patients. While the order includes the closure of campground sites in impacted regions, the state also recognizes that mental health is physical health. As such, day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public will remain open. Members of the same household are encouraged to stay local and recreate responsibly in the outdoors. Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for this park unit. 

What is open now?
  • Visitor Center at 20% occupancy
  • Trails
  • Day use areas
  • Beaches

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
Closed at this park:
  • Special events
  • Tours

Statewide:
  • Many campgrounds across the state remain temporarily closed until further notice or will be temporarily closed in accordance with the new Regional Stay at Home Order. More information here.   
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?

Yes, State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay LocalStay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you or someone in your household is sick.
  • Plan Ahead The COVID-19 pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. As such, information on this webpage may change. Prior to visiting us, please check this webpage again right before you visit the park to find out if new guidelines are in place.
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet – No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings, picnics or parties. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. in some cases, restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities. 
  • Stay Covered – The state requires you wear a face covering when you cannot maintain physical distancing of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Statewide, California State Parks continues to work with locals on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. The need for Californians to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the outdoors remains critical.

For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.
Effective April 8, 2018,  REEF CAMPGROUND IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Phone Number

(707) 847-3286

Park Hours

Please see updated hours below.

Dogs Allowed?

Yes

Driving Directions to Fort Ross SHP

The park is 12 miles north of Jenner on Highway One. From Highway 101 there are two routes to the fort.
From Petaluma:
Highway 101. Take the East Washington Street exit. Go west (left). Washington turns into Bodega Avenue, which after a few more name changes, turns into Highway 1 North and takes you to Bodega Bay. This route is a straight shot--much easier to drive than it looks on the map. At Bodega Bay, follow Highway One North.
From Santa Rosa:
Highway 101. Go past downtown exits for Santa Rosa. Just north of town, take the River Road exit. Go west (left). River Road will turn into Highway 116 in Guerneville. Follow 116 west, then follow signs to Highway One North towards Jenner and Fort Ross.
From the North:
Take Highway 1 from Fort Bragg and go south about two hours drive. We are about 16 miles from Stewart’s Point.
Approximate driving times from... Santa Rosa -- 1 1/2 hours San Francisco -- 3 1/2 hours Sacramento -- 3 1/2 ho

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

BOATING
Boating
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
Family Campsites
RV Access
TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Fishing
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
Beach Area
Family Programs
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Parking
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available

Mussel Advisory:

Sport-Harvested Mussel Quarantine Lifted along Most of the California Coast
Number: SN20-005
 
Advisory Continues for Sonoma County – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today the statewide annual quarantine on mussels gathered by sport harvesters along the California coast, except for Sonoma County, ends at midnight on Saturday, October 31, 2020.  The annual quarantine on sport-harvested mussels, which typically runs May 1 through October 31, is intended to protect the public from shellfish poisoning caused by marine bio toxins. Concentrated levels of domoic acid and paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins can develop in mussels and other bivalve shellfish when they feed on certain naturally occurring marine plankton. There have been no reports of shellfish-related poisonings in California during this quarantine period.  CDPH is advising consumers not to eat sports-harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from Sonoma County. Dangerous levels of PSP toxins have been detected in mussels making them unsafe to consume. The naturally occurring PSP toxins can cause illness or death in humans. Cooking does not destroy the toxin.CDPH's shellfish sampling and testing programs issue warnings or quarantines when needed. Local health departments, various state, federal and tribal agencies, community groups and others participate in the monitoring program. Residents and community groups interested in volunteering to assist with the testing program should email RedTide@cdph.ca.gov or call (800) 553-4133.Updated information about current conditions is available by calling the Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133 or viewing the recreational bivalve shellfish advisory interactive map. More information can be found on the CDPH Marine Bio toxin Monitoring Web page or the CDPH Annual Mussel Quarantine - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Web page.  Due to the persistent presence of domoic acid in razor clams from beaches in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's (CDFW) closure of the razor clam fishery remains in effect there. More information about the razor clam fishery closure can be found on the CDFW Ocean Health Advisories Web page.

Location-Directions

The park is 12 miles north of Jenner on Highway One. From Highway 101 there are two routes to the fort:

From Petaluma
Highway 101. Take the East Washington Street exit. Go west (left). Washington turns into Bodega Avenue, which after a few more name changes, turns into Highway 1 North and takes you to Bodega Bay. This route is a straight shot--much easier to drive than it looks on the map. At Bodega Bay, follow Highway 1 North.

From Santa Rosa
Highway 101. Go past downtown exits for Santa Rosa. Just north of town, take the River Road exit. Go west (left). River Road will turn into Highway 116 in Guerneville. Follow 116 West, then follow signs to Highway 1 North towards Jenner and Fort Ross.

From the North
Take Highway 1 from Fort Bragg and go south about two hours drive. We are about 16 miles from Stewart’s Point.
Approximate driving times from:
Santa Rosa -- 1 1/2 hours
San Francisco -- 2 1/2 hours
Sacramento -- 3 1/2 hours
Fort Bragg -- 2 hours

General Information:

Fort Ross State Historic Park brings attention to the varied stories that have occurred here through the centuries, including the long formation of the coastal natural history, the centuries past and present of resident Kashia Pomo people, the Russian colonization periods (1812-1842), the Ranch era (1842-1972), and the over one hundred year era of this area as a protected resource as a State Historic Park.  The park's Visitor Center is an excellent place to start a tour of Fort Ross to become acquainted with the rich natural and cultural history of the area.

Fort Ross was a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812 to 1841. This commercial company chartered by Russia's tsarist government controlled all Russian exploration, trade and settlement in the North Pacific, and established permanent settlements in Alaska and California. Fort Ross was the southernmost settlement in the Russian colonization of the North American continent, and was established as an agricultural base to supply Alaska. It was the site of California's first windmills and shipbuilding, and Russian scientists were among the first to record California’s cultural and natural history. Fort Ross was a successfully functioning multi-cultural settlement for some thirty years. Settlers included Russians, Native Alaskans and Californians, and Creoles (individuals of mixed Russian and native ancestry.)

Today, the Fort itself consists of several buildings surrounded by stockade walls.  The structure of most historical interest is the Rotchev house, an existing building renovated about 1836 for Alexander Rotchev, the last manager of Ross.  This is thought to be one of the only remaining original buildings from the Russian period.  Several other Russian-era buildings have been reconstructed: the first Russian Orthodox chapel south of Alaska, the stockade, the Kuskov House, the Officials Barracks,  the Magazin (Fur Warehouse), and two corner blockhouses.  A replica of one of the Russian windmills was also added to the park grounds in 2012. 

Following the Russian period, the area was a working ranch with diverse interests in agriculture, livestock, and shipping.  Butter and apples were primary exports during the ranch era, and there are tangible relics of this period to be seen at the park today such as the Call House, built in 1878.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing

The weather on the coast is ever changing: you can expect fog, wind, sun or even rain--sometimes on the same day. It is best to dress in layers. The ground is often wet either from night moisture, fog, or rain, so appropriate shoes are advised.

Parking and Fees:

Entrance fees to Fort Ross are $8.00 per vehicle.  If you are 62 years or older the entrance fee is $7.00.  Your register receipt at Fort Ross is good for any STATE park for the remainder of the day.  Fort Ross parking lot closes at Sunset.  Parking for Fort Ross is found in the large paved parking lot nearest the Fort Ross Visitor Center.  Please park in legal parking stalls.  We offer additional disabled parking down the dirt road on the way to the Fort.  Please follow signage.  Please make sure your disabled placard is displayed.  Busses and vans can drive through the parking lot and take the dirt road to the Fort Compound itself, unload passengers, and than drive back to the parking lot to park. Buses and vans may not park at the Fort Compound.

Picnics at Fort Ross:

There is no food available at Fort Ross.  However, there is a small market north of Fort Ross at the Fort Ross Store.  There is also a small market at the Jenner Sea Store south of Fort Ross by approximately 10 miles.  There are picnic tables near the Fort Ross Visitor Center parking lot, in the orchard to the left of the Call House and in the Fort Compound.    

Fort Ross State Historic Park
The landforms and underlying geology found at Fort Ross State Historic Park illustrate a dynamic history of shifting tectonic plates (giant fragments of the earth’s crust) and fluctuating sea level. The park is situated at the active continental margin, where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate are moving slowly past each other along the San Andreas Fault. East of the fault, rocks of the Franciscan Complex form the core of the northern California Coast Ranges. To the west, rocks of the Point Arena terrane represent a displaced silver of the earth’s crust that has been dragged northward along the fault for millions of years.

Fort Ross State Historic Park(Photograph by Mike Fuller)

The full Geo Gems report  |  Geological Gems of State Parks