Rest Areas for your Road Trip to Sea Ranch
Rest areas along the long and winding Shoreline Highway (CA-1) from Jenner to The Sea Ranch undeniably are far and few in-between. Knowing where the rest areas are on your road trip becomes even more critical when the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) is working on the sections of road damaged by winter storms. In some cases, delays can be as long as 40-45 minutes while waiting for your turn to move forward in the temporary one-way traffic flow.
Where to Go When You Gotta Go
Before you leave for your trip to The Sea Ranch we strongly recommend you check the road reports for the latest updates on Sonoma County road conditions, especially if there is a chance you’ll have to sit in your car for longer than usual periods with your legs tightly squeezed.
Current Road Conditions
Currently (January 26, 2020) Sonoma County Highway 1 emergency repair work continues on Highway 1. The Bodega construction heading to the State Beaches including the main surfing beach of Salmon Creek, continues to have a delay at Bay Hill and if heading to Jenner, you will encounter the Gleason Beach lane closure. Just above Jenner Highway 1 is reduced to one shared lane in two sections. The flow is punctuated with stop lights to allow traffic to take turns heading north and south. Further north above Timber Cover near Salt Point State Park the repair crews have established controlled traffic while they repair road slippage due to the winter’s abundant rain running down the cliff causing the road’s edge to slip and sag and fall into the ocean.
Surviving the Wait
But how will you survive that long drive up the Shoreline Highway 1 when you are traveling with extended delays and tiny bladders shout loud and clear it’s now or never?
No worries! You’ll find here locations and tips for where to go when you gotta go on your way to Sea Ranch.
Nature’s Rest Areas
When nature calls and there are no rest areas with bathroom facilities available you may just have to leave your mark on nature. Just be aware that public urination and defecation is illegal in every state. According to the California “Pee-nal” code it’s actually considered unlawful dumping of waste (374.3(a) P.C. California Penal Code) with fines for urinating in public usually set at $270.
However, if you feel the need to do a your “illegal dumping,” just be sure not to impede traffic or do it in such a way that you’re not exposing yourselves. Also, ensure your vehicle is parked as far from the edge of the highway as possible.
Road Construction Work Site as Rest Areas
As you prepare for this leg of your trip to Sea Ranch you are certainly assured of coming across a road construction site, or two, or even three.
Here’s a little known fact for when you face a time of urinary need. Should you be stuck behind a flagman and find you must relieve yourself, pull your car off to the shoulder of the road if possible and park. Explain to the flagman your plight and ask if you can use their facilities. OSHA requirements dictate that toilet facilities must be made available to the crews working on the road construction and repair sites.
Now I can’t guarantee the quality of the facility, but at least you won’t be charged with illegal dumping!
Rest Areas in Jenner By The Sea
Even before you begin the drive up the coastal foothills, we recommend you take a moment to stretch and relieve yourselves at Jenner by the Sea. This quaint and tiny hamlet has been one of our favorite rest areas for decades. Located at the mouth of the Russian River as it flows into the Pacific Ocean, Jenner offers plenty for everyone from adventure seeker, plein-air painter, hiker, biker, kayaker, naturalist, photographer, or beach-comer. The Jenner Headlands and Goat Rock State Park are great places to stretch your legs and do a little whale watching before you continue on your road trip to Sea Ranch.
Jenner C Store and Gas Station
10444 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 865-2906
Located on the east side of Highway 1, the public portable potties located in the back of the Jenner Sea Store and Gas Station are a convenient location to go and run. I can attest that the porta potties are generally well kept and open 24/7. There is a nice area beyond for walking your dogs as well. Just remember to bring your poop bags with you.
That being said, you may be more comfortable visiting one of Jenner’s restaurants or cafes. As most restaurants’ rest areas are available for patrons only, we recommend ordering a short drink or snack before you use their facilities.
10439 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 865-2251
This cash-only coffee shop is a wonderful gathering spot for both travelers and locals. They do have an ATM available if needed.
Eatery by the Sea: Jenner Inn
10400 Coast Route 1 Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 865-2377
This has had a spotty record for being open especially when you’re in real need for a stop. While it may be open for the summer crowds it is frequently closed during the winter months.
11048 Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 865-2484
Fort Ross Rest Areas
The 12 miles from Jenner to Fort Ross State Historic Park usually takes one-half hour or more to accomplish given the switchbacks and cautious drivers new to this climb through the coastal foothills. Just before you reach the top of the hills is a wonderfully wide pull out perfect for photos and stretching. I recommend crossing the road cautiously for a spectacular view/photo of the Bodega Headlands.
However, there are no actual rest area facilities until you arrive at the Fort Ross State Historic Park. Just be sure you arrive before they close.
Be Prepared to Stop and Wait
The stretch of the road between Jenner and Fort Ross has seen its fill of road work over the years, some of it was quite major. We can’t stress enough the importance of checking the roadways either using Google Maps (look for the yellow icon of a man digging), District 4 CalTrans projects in the Bay Area Counties and/or Jenner Traffic and Road Conditions before you leave.
Because the roads are not wide, when one side washes out it requires converting the roadways into a one-way passage. This requires the use of either work crews or the temporary installation of a stoplight in the middle of nowhere.
Fort Ross Visitor Center for Bathroom and History
Fort Ross State Park provides many rest areas including indoor bathroom facilities at the visitor center, as well as porta-johns along their many trails, picnic areas, and historic locations. 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. The park grounds are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Fort Ross Compound & Visitor Center is opened daily 10 am – 4:30 pm. Then after November 1st, the park will be open Friday through Monday.
The park facilities (parking lot, Fort compound, Visitor Center, restroom, etc.) are open every day 10:00am-4: 30 pm.
The park grounds are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, pedestrian traffic is welcome during these hours if the entrance gates are closed.
Call House Museum tours are on the first weekend of each month 1pm-4pm.
Please call (707) 847-3286 for further information.
About Fort Ross
If time allows after your potty stop, we recommend visiting the Russian Fort at Ross. Fort Ross was originally a thriving Russian-American Company settlement from 1812 to 1841. 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.
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.
Fort Ross Store and Lodge
20705 Coast Hwy Jenner, CA 95450
Only five minutes north of Fort Ross State Park is the Fort Ross Store and Lodge. This little general store sits directly across the Coast Highway from the Fort Ross Lodge.
The lodge desk is open 9AM to 8PM Monday through Sunday. The store however may close earlier. We have found the store is often closed during the winter months.
Timber Cove Inn Resort
21780 Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 205-3517
Just a quick hop up the road from Fort Ross Lodge and Store is Timber Cove Inn and Resort. Of all the possible bathroom rest areas, Timber Cove is another favorite of ours! Newly renovated in 2016 they now feature a beautiful lobby with updated restaurant and bar. In fact, when we stay in Sea Ranch we frequently drive south to Timber Cove for a romantic night out dining at the Coast Kitchen, bathroom included.
Stillwater and Ocean Cove
23125 CA-1, Jenner, CA 95450 (707) 847-3422
Stillwater Cove Regional Park
Stillwater Cove is a favorite dive spot for abalone divers, dive clubs, and dive classes. We frequently camped there in our younger years. Stillwater Cove Regional Park campground is located in an open meadow dotted with coastal forest trees on the east side of the highway. Therefore, it does not have great views of the ocean. While there are bathrooms and coin-operated showers available, they are one-seaters with hot water and utility sink. So when the campground gets busy there can be lines to use the facilities. But reports are they never run out of toilet paper!
Stillwater Cove Regional Park has a small beach and is a popular place for launching small boats and scuba diving.
Ocean Cove Store and Campground
Another handy pit stop for when the ride to Sea Ranch is getting a bit too long is Ocean Cove just is 17 miles north of Jenner. However given the winding roads, by this time you may feel tired. Worse, you may find yourself wiggling in your seat wondering how much longer before you’re at Sea Ranch!
You will know when you’ve arrived at Ocean Cove when you make the hairpin turn to arrive nearly right on top of the porch of the Ocean Cove Store.
Across the street is the Ocean Cove Campgrounds and Boat Ramp. Camping and day use available:
April 1 through November 30. Fees for day use are as follows:
$7.00 per vehicle per day.
Day Use with Ramp:
$18.00 per vehicle per day.
Dogs – $2.00 (Sonoma County Leash Law in effect)
Ocean Cove Bar and Grill23255 Coast Hwy 1, Jenner, CA 95450. (707) 847-3158
Just a few feet farther north is Ocean Cove Bar and Grill. The bar is open until 8 PM. Don’t let its appearances fool you. The bar and grill have been around for a long time and the location it is full of character and charm. It’s homey and welcoming inside with super friendly staff and yummy food paired with a nice view of the ocean, all at very reasonable prices. They also have a few items that are gluten-free.
Salt Point State Park
Just 8 miles north of Fort Ross is Salt Point State Park. This 6,000-acre park includes a marine reserve that is popular with divers and great oceanfront trails for hikers. Hikers and mushroom pickers frequently visit the park. There are two campgrounds and more than 20 miles of hiking trails in the park.
There are no bathroom facilities at Kruse Rhododendron Day use park. Gerstle Cove Campground and all Day Use Areas have restrooms.
When you go into the park be sure to stay on the trails to avoid contact with ticks and poison oak. Fisk Mill Cove is a day use area that provides picnickers with paved parking, picnic tables, small upright barbeques, restrooms, and drinking water.
Stump Beach is another picnic area that offers one of the few sandy beaches north of Jenner. There are a few picnic tables near the parking lot and a primitive toilet with no running water. A 1/4 mile trail leads down to the beach.
South Gerstle Cove also has picnic tables, a primitive toilet, and a beautiful, exposed view of the ocean.
The park is opened sunrise to sunset April through October; Saturdays and Sundays 10:00AM-3: 00 PM. Day use is $8.00 per vehicle.
Stewarts Point Store
32000 Coast Highway CA- 1, Stewarts Point, 95480. (707) 785-2011
Stewarts Point, 6 miles north of Salt Point is a tiny hamlet perched that sits at the crossroads of Highway 1 and Skaggs Springs Road. Without any delays or crowds on the roads, it is a 45-minute drive north from Jenner on Highway 1. The newly renovated Stewarts Point Store owned and operated by Twofish Baking Company serves as the hamlet’s focal point. They offer sundries, artisan treasures, sandwiches made from their own freshly baked bread, beer and wine, gas, and most importantly bathrooms.
Their bathroom is located opposite the building and is fully equipped!
Oh, and remember Friday nights during the summer is Pizza Night! But we recommend you call ahead to order your pizza. It can be busy.
Update: Sea Ranch Lodge and Black Point Grill-Closed
Once you pass the Stewarts Point Store you are just a few miles away from The Sea Ranch. You’ve nearly arrived at your vacation rental destination, Abalone Bay!
For years after the long drive on the Shoreline Highway and finally, The Sea Ranch Lodge’s iconic rams horn signaled the promise of a row full of bathrooms ready and waiting for your arrival.
The Sea Ranch Lodge to Open in 2020
BUT, the lodge and its restaurant were sold this early 2019.
The new owner, Robin Chan and partners plan to start taking applications and interviewing candidates for roles at the Lodge starting in August. They’ve begun their work in earnest, tackling the maintenance that was deferred in recent years. They are working hard pursuing creative avenues, to ensure that the Lodge can become (and remain) a sustainable business in the future. Despite the unexpected surprises, they’re very optimistic about what’s possible!
Potty Related Updates for a Pitstop at the Lodge:
If you drive like me, you’ve managed to make it all the way to Sea Ranch but another mile forward and it may become a disaster.
Prior to their close I carefully wove my way into the parking lot. Threw the gears into park, snatch the keys and run as carefully as you can to the doors of the lodge.
With the remodel, it is expected there will be a new, accessible bathroom on the first floor. Stay tuned for updates on this addition.
Black Point Grill- Currently closed
With anxiety relieved we recommend a visit to Black Point Grill at The Sea Ranch Lodge. Their seasonal menu features internationally-inspired California cuisine. It’s full bar also showcases local wineries and breweries. Later peruse the gift store, perhaps to purchase a sweatshirt for the incoming fog.
Refreshed, revived and ready you exit the lodge and sally forth, onward to Sea Ranch Abalone Bay!
Sea Ranch Abalone Bay
Just shy of 3 miles is your final destination, Sea Ranch Abalone Bay vacation rental! You’ve made it!
We know that while the road is spectacular with its ocean views weaving in between the cypress, eucalyptus, and redwood trees, it’s so very nice to finally arrive home to Abalone Bay. With no more traveling, you can finally sit back, a glass of wine in hand and exhale as your fingers extend leaving the weariness of the road behind you.
And just in case you are in need for one last time, you have your choice of two bathrooms:
The guest bathroom…or…
The master bathroom!
And If All Else Fails…
BYOT~ Bring your own toilet!
Someone help me out here. pic.twitter.com/tO8zYKM2il
— Joe Little🎥🏀 (@LittleJoeTV) May 28, 2019
Wondering what the rest of the house looks like?
Are you ready for your trip to Sea Ranch Abalone Bay? We’re happy to have you!Book now