There is so much to see and do at Goat Rock Beach in Jenner, California. Goat Rock beach is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park, which is a 17-mile stretch of scenic overlooks and craggy beaches.
Where is Goat Rock Beach?
If you take scenic Highway 1 from Bodega Bay, and head north, you will enjoy this drive where it is quite accessible to simply pull over at any number of turnouts and take in the views. The beaches that have larger parking lots are attached to larger beaches and will have vault toilets available. You can enjoy a nice picnic up above on the cliffs, or choose to bring your beach gear down to the beach.
At the northernmost spot of the Sonoma Coast State Park, lies Goat Rock Beach. Back in the early 20th century, lore has it that grazing goats populated the grassy area on the bluffs above the beach. These goats could climb as their predators could not, so climbing up "Goat Rock" is where they chose to pasture.
When you enter the state park, you wind around on the two-lane road, and at first, you can pull over and take in the scenic beauty above Blind Beach. There is a restroom there. You can then continue your drive down the hill and after navigating the hairpin turn, you come to a stop sign. To the left is a parking lot at the heel of Goat Rock itself. Again, there are restrooms there and you can take a walk to the left (or, south) and that is Blind Beach.
Blind Beach is a narrow beach and you really have to watch the tides. You will notice the tides when you are in the parking lot. Sometimes the tides will flow all the way to cliffs, and navigating the beach is too dangerous. Blind Beach is wonderful for beachcombing and fishing is allowed here. Dogs are also allowed on this beach, but not at Goat Rock (more on that later).
Heading to Goat Rock
After visiting Blind Beach, head back up the hill and you will be going north, and a bit up the road is the parking lot for Goat Rock Beach. The parking lot at Goat Rock has restrooms as well. There are also picnic tables available, but only in the parking lot area. Sift through the dunes and head to the beach. Goat Rock beach is where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Russian River estuary lies on the east side of the beach. This area is great for kayakers and paddleboarders. Because it is an estuary, and because of its sensitive nature, fishing and dogs are not allowed here. Dogs are not allowed anywhere at Goat Rock beach.
All species of birds can be found at Goat Rock, including humankind, gliders. Gliders are allowed on the bluffs. Whales are often seen at Goat Rock Beach. The best time of year for whale-spotting is between the months of December through April, however, whales can be seen year-round. Between Spring and Summer, at the mouth of the Russian River, Pacific Harbor Seals and their pups can be seen frolicking. You must stay 50-feet away from these beautiful creatures.
DO NOT GET IN THE WATER!
Goat Rock and Blind Beach, as with most beaches along the Sonoma Coastline, are incredibly dangerous! Sneaker waves will, well, sneak up on you and take you out in the ocean. There are warning signs EVERYWHERE, and they are there for a reason. Over the years, there have been many deaths as people just did not take heed to the warnings. When you walk along Goat Rock beach, you will notice quite a berm on the beach, and congruent with berms comes swales, naturally. Berms + Swales = riptides. Often, when we are visiting Goat Rock beach, we find ourselves warning folks, constantly. There are state park rangers and lifeguards present during the peak months, more than at any other beach in the area. If you have children, and they really want to get their feet in the water, head over the dunes to the estuary and the Russian River has a "pool" of sorts with calm waters, perfect for building sandcastles and enjoying the calming waters.
There is NO cost to visit Goat Rock beach. At least, I haven't seen any pay stations.
So, whether it's beachcombing, picnicking, bird watching, or trail walking (The Kortum Trail is above the cliffs), Goat Rock beach has a ton of nature and scenic beauty to behold. Be sure to make your next road trip to Goat Rock Beach, and pack a lunch!