Fort Ross Travel Guide

Plan your visit to Fort Ross with our detailed guide. Discover historical attractions, natural beauty, hiking and biking routes, best things to do, food and drink scene, where to stay, and more.

Fort Ross is a coveted destination for tourists, historians, and nature enthusiasts alike. Located in Sonoma County on the North Coast of California, Fort Ross is a shining example of the blending of cultures, history, and natural beauty. This comprehensive guide will help you plan your trip and discover everything Fort Ross has to offer.

Introduction to Fort Ross

Fort Ross is a former Russian settlement that was established in 1812. It served as a trading outpost and a farming community. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and a California State Historic Park that preserves the rich history and culture of the region. Visitors can step back in time and explore the preserved buildings, including the chapel, the commander’s house, the kitchen, and the barracks.

Apart from the historical significance, Fort Ross is surrounded by natural beauty. The Pacific Ocean to the west and the dense forests of the Sonoma County make it an ideal destination for outdoor adventures.

List of Places to Visit in Fort Ross

Here are some of the top attractions that you must visit in Fort Ross:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • The Ross Store Museum
  • The Call House Museum
  • The Fort Ross Visitor Center

Natural Attractions of Fort Ross: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Fort Ross State Historic Park Beach
  • Salt Point State Park
  • Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve

Hiking/Biking Routes of Fort Ross

Fort Ross offers a variety of hiking and biking trails that are suitable for all levels of fitness. Here are some of the popular routes:

  • Fort Ross Cove Trail, easy, 0.75-mile loop
  • Shell Beach Trail, moderate, 2.3-mile loop
  • Salt Point Trail, difficult, 7.6 miles to Salt Point State Park

Best Things to Do in Fort Ross: Activities and Tours

Here are some of the top activities and tours that you can enjoy in Fort Ross:

  • Visit the Ross Store Museum and browse through the collections of Russian and American-made goods, including furs, tea, and clothing.
  • Join a guided tour of the historic buildings and learn about the history of Fort Ross.
  • Take a hike or bike ride through the scenic trails of the area.

Week-Long Itinerary for Fort Ross

Here is a suggested one-week itinerary for exploring Fort Ross and the surrounding area:

Day Activities
1 Visit the Fort Ross Visitor Center, take a guided tour of the historic fort
2 Spend the day hiking or biking in the nearby parks and reserves
3 Relax on the beach at Fort Ross State Historic Park
4 Visit the Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve
5 Go fishing or kayaking in the Pacific Ocean
6 Explore the local food and drink scene
7 Take a day trip to nearby Bodega Bay or Mendocino

Food and Drink Scene of Fort Ross

The food and drink scene in Fort Ross is as eclectic as the history of the region itself. Here are some of the must-try dishes and beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Red abalone
  • Grilled oysters
  • Local seafood chowder
  • Bodega Bay clam chowder

Local Beverages

  • Russian River Valley wines
  • Ale from the nearby North Coast breweries

Where to Stay in Fort Ross: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Here are some of the top places to stay in Fort Ross:

  • Timber Cove Resort: A luxury resort offering ocean view rooms, spa, and fine dining restaurant.
  • Jenner Inn: A historic hotel located on the Russian River that offers river views, hot tub, and fireplace rooms.
  • Salt Point Lodge: A rustic lodge that offers camping and rustic cabins in the heart of Salt Point State Park.

What to Buy in Fort Ross: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Handmade crafts from the Fort Ross Gallery and Gift Shop
  • Local wines from the Russian River Valley wineries
  • Artwork and pottery from the local artists

Local Culture and Customs of Fort Ross

Fort Ross is a unique blend of Russian and American cultures. Visitors can learn about the Russian Orthodox Church and how it played a significant role in the lives of the settlers. The area also has a vibrant Native American community, and visitors can learn about their culture and traditions.

Best Time to Visit Fort Ross

The best time to visit Fort Ross is from May to October when the weather is pleasant and perfect for outdoor activities. During the winter months, the area can be colder and rainy, but it offers a unique charm and an ideal time for cozy nights near a fireplace.

Do’s and Don’ts of Fort Ross

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Fort Ross:


  • Take a guided tour of the historic buildings
  • Respect the natural environment and leave no trace
  • Try the local seafood dishes
  • Learn about the local culture and traditions


  • Litter or damage the environment
  • Ignore safety warnings and rules
  • Disturb the wildlife

Safety and Health

Before visiting Fort Ross, it’s essential to be aware of the safety and health aspects of the area.

Safety in Fort Ross

  • Take caution while hiking or biking in the dense forests as wildlife can be present.
  • Follow all safety signs and instructions when exploring the coastline.
  • Avoid getting too close to the water on the coastline to prevent being swept away by the waves.

Health in Fort Ross

  • Prepare for outdoor activities by bringing sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kits.
  • Stay hydrated during outdoor activities.
  • Check for ticks during the summer months as they can carry Lyme disease.

Getting to Fort Ross: Transportation Options and Logistics

Here are some options for getting to Fort Ross:

Airports Near Fort Ross

  • Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Bus Stations Near Fort Ross

  • Santa Rosa Transit Mall Bus Station
  • Petaluma Transit Mall

Other Options

  • Drive to Fort Ross from San Francisco using Highway 101 North to State Route 1 North.
  • Take a train to Santa Rosa and hire a car to reach Fort Ross.

How to Get Around in Fort Ross

The best way to get around Fort Ross is by car. Visitors can hire a car from nearby towns and explore the area at their own pace.

Where to Go Next from Fort Ross: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Bodega Bay: A charming coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and seafood restaurants.
  • Russian River Valley: An ideal destination for wine tasting and outdoor adventures.
  • Sonoma Valley: A world-renowned wine region that offers vineyard tours, wine tastings, and fine dining.


Fort Ross is a must-visit destination that offers something for everyone. With its rich history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventures, Fort Ross is a perfect retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Plan your visit today and explore the wonders of North Coast, California.