Pacific Coast Highway and Fort Ross

The weekend before last I was in California visiting with Brian and his parents. It was their 27th wedding anniversary, so to celebrate we decided to go in the direction of the Russian River valley. Our original plan had been to spend a night at Yosemite, but the government shutdown prevented that from happening. Instead, we ended up on a beautiful road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway with stops at the Fort Ross, a Redwood forest, and the Korbel Winery.

northern-california-pacific-coast-highway-overlook As we got closer to Guerneville and off the freeway, the drive was gorgeous. We stayed at a bed and breakfast not far from the Russian River. After we checked in, we took the top off the jeep and headed out for a drive to some of the local parks. With the top off, we could look up at the sun-stippled redwoods as we curved along the winding roads. Once we got out to the coast, we stopped at several of the pullouts to take in the 180 degree views.


We had some time before our dinner reservation, so we stopped for an hour or two at Fort Ross Historical Park in Sonoma County.


Fort Ross was built in 1812 by Russians settlers from Sitka, AK. They were expanding down from the north as Spanish settlers were moving up from the south. Later, Americans would expand in from the east.

The size and sophistication of the buildings in the compound was impressive. There was even this large two-story one within the wall.


The buildings were well-preserved, including this church that sat in the back corner of the fort, guarded by two cannons.


The number of artifacts on display was impressive. One of the buildings was fully outfitted with bedrooms, kitchen, and work rooms. From the looks of it, life was fairly comfortable for the Russian settlers.


Fort Ross was also home to America’s first windmill. This one was all tied down so it couldn’t turn in the ocean breeze, but it was sure trying to.


The park also had beach access, so we walked down to the shore and admired the ocean for a little bit before deciding to head back in the direction of our dinner reservation and B&B. We zipped up the top of the car because it was getting chilly, but we still stopped to take in the views along the way.


By the time we got to the restaurant, River’s End in Jenner, we were still way early for our reservation. So we found a sitting area near some cabin rentals by the restaurant and opened a few bottles of wine as we watched the sunset behind crashing waves.


Dinner that night was amazing. From oysters and ahi to prawns and filet mignon, everything was delicious. I think Brian and his parents would agree that if you’re in the area and are looking for some fine eating, River’s End is not to be missed. After dinner, we retired to our B&B for a low-key night. A great day in Northern California.


7 thoughts on “Pacific Coast Highway and Fort Ross

    • It would make a great playhouse! Other than access for repair if needed, I have a feeling it played a more sinister role back in the 1800’s — probably doubled as a watchtower for incoming invasions.


  1. Great photos and description, Gail. Russian River Valley is still my favorite wine area in CA. It is like Napa was 40 years ago. Glad you both enjoyed Ft Ross. Hi to Brian.


  2. Spectacular scenery. I’ve been to northern California, but not as northerly as you were. I too think the Russian River wines are the best, although I’ve never been there. Ft. Ross looks fascinating. You need to get there, Ed. Who knew the Russian Sitkans, or Sitkan Russians, got so far south? They must have gone through Seattle, eh?


    • Interesting that the Crowleys are such big fans of Russian River wines! I bet you’re right that the Russians passed through Seattle, Ellen.


  3. Fred and I went to Russian River years ago and I’d have to agree that it was really special. Didn’t make Fort Ross, though, so found your pictures and description quite interesting. Sounds like you had a great trip.


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