Salt Point State Park

Located about 90 miles north of San Francisco, the park has 6000 acres of fascinating and diverse habitats perfect for the study of forest, grassland and coastal land forms.

Salt Point State Park
Salt Point State Park is located about 90 miles north of San Francisco on Coast Highway 1.

The Park has 6,000 acres of fascinating and diverse habitats including the adjacent Kruse Rhododendron Reserve. The Reserve is a unique example of the succession that follows the burning of a redwood forest. Fort Ross State Park is close-by, providing students with an opportunity to study the early 19th century Russian settlement of California.

Site Overview

This large coastal park offers a rich variety of botanical, geological, marine biological & historical topics for Naturalists at Large to explore with your students and faculty. The rugged coastline of the Park varies dramatically from protected sandy beach coves on the northern end to the sharp bluffs and sheer sandstone cliffs that plunge straight down to the sea at Salt Point and Gerstle Cove. Several rocky beaches provide an opportunity to study the tidepools and the inter-tidal zone. As the terrain rises northeast of Highway 1, coastal chaparral and grassland blend into lush growths of bishop pine, Douglas fir, madrone, tanoak, redwoods, and upland meadows. At the top of the coastal ridge, about 1,000 feet above the coast, is a large open “prairie” and a rare pygmy forest of stunted trees. This pygmy forest is an extension of similar forest found in Mendocino County.

Animal life is abundant. Blacktail deer, raccoon, coyote, bobcat, gray fox, and badger inhabit the Park and the surrounding area. Bird life is plentiful and varied: rare brown pelicans, osprey, red tail hawks, and numerous water birds. Between December and March, gray whales pass close to shore during their yearly migration.

Educational Overview

We design an academic program that meets your learning goals. During a three-day to five-day program, students will study the plants, animals, marine life, geology and human history of the area. They will develop group cooperation through a shared camping experience, enhance leadership abili­ties, and learn basic camping skills. In addition to the education component, Natural­ists at Large will provide students with a shared experience to help the class develop a greater sense of identity. The Natural­ists at Large program is designed to give the students a “sense of place”. This will be ac­complished by introducing them to the natural and cultural history of the Park while they explore the trails, study the various habitats, and live in the area. Naturalist at Large’s experience has been that the students’ participation in the process of setting up and running a camp provides the fundamental framework for a successful program. The program can emphasize the abiotic, biotic & cultural aspects of Salt Point along with camping and outdoor skills. Natural­ists at Large will take respon­sibility for evening ac­tivities for the class, such as, an all-class evening program, star talks, night hikes, campfires, and other evening activities we develop for you.

Educational Themes can include:
  • Freshwater and saltwater biology
  • Plant communities – botany, ecology, plant identification
  • Adapta­tions of plants and animals, Geology – landforms
  • The stars – cosmology, constellations, & mythology
  • Environmen­tal resource management
  • Water resources – pollution, sewage treatment, water sources
  • Outdoor skills
  • Invertebrate zoology & bird watching