The Russian River originates in the redwood forests of Mendocino County and winds its way gently south thorough Sonoma County. One of the wildest spots on the main stem of the Russian River is towards the end, near its mouth. Here the waters widen, fresh water mixing with the tidal flows of the ocean, and the influences of two dynamic ecosystems merge.
The San Francisco Peninsula Watershed, managed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is home to trails that offer access to remote wilderness, Northern California geology, and opportunities to appreciate the complexity of providing 2.4 million people with a clean water supply.
On October 12, 2008, Angel Island was ravaged by a wildfire. In just 2 days, 303 acres went up in smoke. We're visiting the island a year later to see how the land is recovering and learn how the fire helped one scientist unearth a bit if the island's history.
Local nature lovers can enjoy the rare opportunity to hike, bike, or ride their horses through pristine stands of old growth Douglas Fir, evergreen and fragrant coastal scrub while enjoying ridge-top vistas of our watershed lands, reservoirs, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. To protect our watershed, hiking on the trail is restricted to docent-led ventures three days a week, with advanced registration.
Established as a national wildlife refuge 100 years ago, the Farallon Islands are centered in one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. While off limits to the public, a handful of scientists study this unique habitat, a breeding ground for marine mammals and hundreds of thousands of birds. Explore the sights and history of the largest island for yourself with this interactive map.
Pescadero State Beach is no simple place. Scanning its expanse, you can see ocean beach, streams, grasses, cattails, bushy scrub, and tall, ancient trees. If you look more closely you can see over 250 species of birds. The landscape, especially at the water, is never the same two days in a row.
You may not think of salmon when visiting the redwoods in Muir Woods, but it's home to a population of Coho Salmon. Redwood forests provide ideal salmon habitat, providing woody debris to protect young salmon in the creeks and keeping them shaded and cool. But the Coho in Muir Woods' Redwood Creek are endangered, and local biologists and volunteers are working to protect the salmon and restore their habitat.
The intertidal rocks at Natural Bridges State Beach are covered in life: sea stars, seaweeds, urchins, and crabs are just some of the area's intertidal inhabitants. Visit them in their tidepool homes down in Santa Cruz, California.
Less than an hour’s drive north from San Francisco, the 2,882 acres of Samuel P. Taylor State Park is within easy driving distance of some of northern California’s most dramatic outdoor scenery. The park features a unique contrast of coastal redwood groves and open grassland.
As sure as the earth moves in Berkeley, there's a volcano just off Skyline Boulevard. Not just any volcano. This one's laying on its side with its guts exposed. At Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve, you'll find the rocky body and layered underpinnings of one of the largest volcanoes that once dotted our geologic neighborhood.
Just a few minutes outside of San Jose, you'll find a place to explore 100 million years of history. Alum Rock Park, created in 1872 as the first municipal park in California, offers both ancient rocks and new geologic changes (and lots of nice trails and wildlife, too). Despite its longevity and proximity to a populous urban area, it remains one of the less-visited jewels in the Bay Area's crown.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park stands as a reminder of the natural flora and fauna of the area before much of it was cleared to create vineyards. However, the soils and microclimates that have drawn grape growers for over 100 years remain. The park is also teeming with plants used by Native Americans in the region, who were likely the first people to use the Valley's bounties to make intoxicating concoctions.
The nation's first urban National Wildlife Refuge, it's 30,000 acres of open bay, salt pond, salt marsh, mudflat, upland, and vernal pool habitats are constantly changing.