This Underrated State Park On The West Coast Is An Adventure-Filled, Oceanfront Getaway

California is a vacation destination where you don't have to look far to find glitz, glamor, and high-energy city fun. However, it's also a place where you're more than welcome to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature far from the crowds. State parks across California are great for doing exactly that, and according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the state hosts around 280 for visitors and locals alike to enjoy exploring. When you're searching specifically for a West Coast oceanfront getaway that's more off-the-beaten-path yet packed with adventure, you'll find it waiting for you at Salt Point State Park.

A little over 50 miles from Santa Rosa, California, Salt Point State Park beckons travelers looking to get close to the ocean and embrace a sense of wild natural beauty. Here, visitors are treated to a panoramic coastline of sandstone cliffs and impressive crashing waves. You won't see a restaurant or hotel in sight, but instead, a seemingly endless combination of land, water, and sky. At Salt Point State Park, the adventure refreshingly begins where the modern comforts end.

Indulge in beautiful landscapes, history, and hikes

Spending time at Salt Point State Park is an opportunity to encounter a variety of unique ecosystems and landscapes. Along the park's 6 miles of coastline, visitors will find everything from grasslands and prairies to coves, pocket beaches, rocky outcrops, and hills dotted with forests. If you're a nature photographer, there's no shortage of angles on the terrain that are sure to inspire as you explore.

A visit here also puts you in touch with a natural setting with a rich history. Before it became a state park, Salt Point was home to the ancient Kashaya Pomo, who are believed to have inhabited the area upward of 10,000 years before settlers arrived. Today, there's still a sense of stepping back in time when you visit Salt Point State Park. Cell service remains spotty in the vast wilderness of this park, and options for adventure focus exclusively on discovering wonders in the great outdoors.

Hiking is a top activity among visitors thanks to the more than 20 miles of trails that wind through the park. These paths are open to trekkers and those exploring on horseback. It's not difficult to pick and choose a route suitable to your skill level, thanks to the diversity of options. The park has leisurely trails that navigate bishop pine forests and prairie bluffs, as well as challenging routes that take hikers along the windswept coves and beaches.

Enjoy fishing, wildlife-watching, and shoreline picnics

If you have a valid fishing license, you're welcome to cast a line at Salt Point State Park. Many anglers have luck reeling in greenlings, rockfish, lingcod, and cabezon from the rocky shoreline. The only area you can't fish is Gerstle Cove, one of the park's most beautiful natural wonders. This designated State Marine Reserve is a haven for red abalone and red sea urchins that can be observed during low tide.

If admiring coastal views is your priority, Salt Point State Park is a picturesque place to enjoy a picnic. Head over to Stump Beach to find picnic tables right near the shoreline. There are also options to picnic near South Gerstle Cove. As you pair scenery and flavor, keep your eyes open for local wildlife. Salt Point State Park houses foxes, black bears, badgers, and skunks. Offshore, there's a chance you could spot a gray whale alongside harbor seals near the coves. Turn your eyes to the sky, and you'll be greeted by a plethora of bird species. This is a place where you'll want your binoculars ready during migration season.

Before you head out to Salt Point State Park, be sure to fuel up your vehicle. The nearest gas pump is around 18 miles away in any direction from the park. Once you arrive, parking for the day is $8 per vehicle. From there on out, it's nothing but vast wilderness ahead.