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Fort Ross State Historic Park
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Fort Ross State Historic Park © Almonroth / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fort Ross
Fort Ross State Historic Park © Jonmallard / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Images of Fort Ross State Park
Fort Ross State Historic Park © Constantine Kulikovsky / CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Fort Ross State Historic Park, California, USA
Fort Ross State Historic Park © Babbage / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A Douglas Iris growing near the California coast, at Fort Ross State Historic Park
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19005 Coast Highway One
Jenner, California   95450

Phone: 707-847-3286
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.)

Along with the chapel, the structure of most historical interest at Fort Ross is the Rotchev house, an existing building renovated about 1836 for Alexander Rotchev, the last manager of Ross. It is the only surviving structure. Several other buildings have been reconstructed: the first Russian Orthodox chapel south of Alaska, the stockade, and four other buildings called the Kuskov House, The Officials Barracks, and two corner blockhouses.

History of the Area
Fort Ross, located in California's Sonoma County on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, has a rich history dating back to its establishment by Russian colonists in 1812. Originally named 'Krepost' Ross', it was Russia's southernmost settlement in North America during that period and served as an active fur trading post.

The Russians abandoned Fort Ross around 1841 due to declining profits from hunting sea otters for their pelts. The property then passed into Mexican control following Mexico's independence from Spain and later became part of U.S territory after the Mexican-American War ended in 1848.

In subsequent years, several owners held possession until George Call purchased it at auction for $3,000 dollars with plans to use this land agriculturally. His family maintained ownership till late-1920s when they sold it off because maintaining such historical structures proved too costly.

Recognizing its historic significance as one of few remaining early settlements along California's coastline; State Parks Association acquired Fort Ross site through fundraising efforts led by Californian women who formed Save-the-Redwoods League & Native Sons/Daughters Golden West organizations among others.

It officially opened up as a state park under Department Park Recreation management since October 1906 offering visitors unique insights into pre-Gold Rush era life via preserved buildings like Rotchev House (Commander quarters), Chapel etc., alongside various cultural events celebrating diverse heritage associated with this location over centuries including Kashia Pomo Indians' presence before Europeans arrived here onwards towards present times reflecting American-Russian-Mexican influences respectively throughout different periods within past two hundred plus years thus far making overall visitor experience truly enriching indeed!
Boating options within this California park are limited due to the lack of a protected cove or harbor. The area is known for its hazardous waters, making it unsuitable for casual boaters and swimmers. However, experienced kayakers can enjoy exploring the rugged coastline under suitable weather conditions. It's important to note that there aren't any boat rental facilities in the vicinity; visitors must bring their own equipment if they wish to kayak along these shores.

Fort Ross State Historic Park in California offers several picnicking options for visitors. The park has designated picnic areas with tables and grills where families or groups can enjoy a meal amidst the natural beauty of the area. Some sites offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, while others are nestled among trees providing shade and tranquility. Visitors may also choose to have a more casual picnic on one of its many open spaces or near historic structures like Russian-era fort buildings, giving an added element of historical interest to your outing.

1. Fort Ross Cove Trail: This is a 0.7-mile trail that descends from the fort to Sandy Cove Beach, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding cliffs.

2. Windmill Walk: A short but scenic walk leading towards an old Russian windmill replica located within park grounds; it's less than half a mile long making it perfect for families with small children or those looking for light exercise.

3. Cemetery Loop Trail: Approximately one mile in length, this loop takes hikers through historic orchards before reaching the final resting place of early settlers at Fort Ross' cemetery site.

4. Sandy Cove Beach Access Pathway: An easy pathway which leads directly down to Sandy cove beach where visitors can enjoy picnics or simply relax by watching waves crash onto shorelines.

5. Reef Campground Trails: These trails connect campers staying at Reef campground with main attractions such as visitor center,Fort compound etc .These are relatively flat paths suitable even for novice hikers.

6. Metini-Fort Ross Historic Orchard: Located on terraces above Visitor Center,this self guided tour allows you explore various fruit trees planted during settlement era.

7. Fort Compound Walking Tour: This walking path covers all major structures inside fort like chapel,barracks,fur warehouse etc providing insights into life back then.

8. Call Picnic Area Nature Trail: A gentle hike along coastal bluffs starting near Call picnic area offers mesmerizing oceanic vistas while also passing through lush meadows filled wildflowers (seasonal).

9. Timber Cover Fire Road: For more adventurous souls seeking solitude & wilderness experience,this rough fire road winds up steeply over ridges deep inside forested areas away from crowds.

10. Maritime History Self-guided Interpretive Walk-A unique waterfront trail focusing mainly on marine history associated with location including shipwrecks,sailing vessels used during fur trade period.

11. Kuskov House Kitchen Garden Walk: A short stroll around recreated kitchen garden showcasing various vegetables & herbs grown during Russian era.

12. South Cove Trail: This 1-mile trail descends to a secluded beach cove, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

13. North Trailhead: Starting from northern end,this rugged path climbs steeply through dense forests before opening up onto panoramic oceanic vistas .This is longest hike within park stretching over few miles.

14. Fort Ross Reef Interpretive Loop: An educational walk along coastal bluffs providing information about rich marine life found in surrounding waters via interpretative panels placed at regular intervals.

15. East Ridge Fire Road: A challenging uphill climb on fire road leading towards highest point inside park rewarding hikers with sweeping landscapes encompassing entire fort,ocean beyond as well nearby mountains ranges.

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Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
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Backyard Garden Oasis BB - Middletown, CA
BBs / Inns
Close to Calistoga, Napa Valley and Lake County Vineyards, and Harbin Hot Springs in the Mayacama Mountains, and 2 hrs away from San Francisco or Sacramento. Backyard Garden Oasis is an exquisite respite for those wanting a nature-filled retreat surrounded by some of Californias most beautiful country.
36.9 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

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 -- 2 1/2 hours
Sacramento -- 3 1/2 hours
Fort Bragg -- 2 hours

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California State Parks