Amazing Sonoma County Vistas
There's nothing quite like discovering a high spot with a clear view, where everything seems to stretch out before you. That happens a lot in Sonoma County, where miles of rolling vineyards, wild forestlands, and rugged Pacific coastline compete for the most amazing vista.
It's hard to know whether to grab a camera and try to capture the incredible images, or just relax and drink it all in. However you react, here's just a short list of a few of the overwhelmingly scenic opportunities in Sonoma County.
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Enter ($8 per vehicle, $7 seniors) and drive through the spectacular Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville, 707-869-2015). From the picnic area at the rear of Armstrong, drive up the steep, winding road or hike the trail to Bullfrog Pond Campground. Before you get to the campground, discover panoramic wilderness views looking west into Austin Creek State Recreation Area. (Be advised that the road into Austin Creek and Bullfrog Pond is a steep, narrow, winding, two-and-a-half-mile-long mountain road; no vehicle more than 20 feet long is allowed on this road.)
Part of the 17-mile-long Sonoma Coast State Park, Bodega Head is the rocky headland that forms the commanding entrance into Bodega Harbor. The harbor side of the headland provides a popular crabbing area along the jetty, and the many hiking trails on the ocean side allow access to small, sandy coves, and spectacular bluff-top views. The high cliffs offer excellent vantage points for observing migrating gray whales.
Coleman Valley Road
Coleman Valley Road is one of the most picturesque drives around, with stunning views of Sonoma County's rugged coastline. From Occidental, head west on Coleman Valley Road towards Highway 1. The road climbs steeply out of town, descends into a picturesque valley, then climbs up and runs along the ridgeline with spectacular views of the coast. There are pullouts along the road where you can stop and take photos. At its highest point you can see both the Pacific Ocean to the west and the forested valleys to the east. Beware of the wandering livestock.
River Rock Casino
Whether you prefer sunrise or sunset, enjoy spectacular views of the Alexander Valley countryside from the outdoor patio at the Quail Run Buffet at River Rock Casino (3250 Highway 128, Geyserville, 707-857-2777).
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
It's a hike to the top, but on a clear day, the views from the Bald Mountain summit are magnificent. Often you can see the Sierra to the east, San Francisco Bay and Mount Diablo to the south, Mount Tamalpais to the southwest, the coastal range and the Pacific to the west, and Mount Saint Helena to the north. In addition to its 25 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood, 707-833-5712) includes 47 campsites and a 40-inch telescope at the Robert Ferguson Observatory.