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18 Apr 2024
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Discover Sonoma County

We’ve heard Cazadero – the small community just inland from Jenner and north of Hwy 116/River Road – referred to as a hidden gem of Sonoma County, but what makes it so special? Why should you stay or visit the next time you’re here?

It feels far, far away while being so close! Guests who don’t want to make the drive to Tahoe or deal with putting on chains in the snow, can escape to Cazadero in less than 2 hours from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.

Austin Creek is one of our favorite – and picturesque – creeks feeding into the Russian River. Roaring in the winter, calm and fun for splashing about in the spring, most of summer and some of fall if conditions are right, Austin Creek boasts pristine water – often crystal clear – and abundant wildlife. Ridiculous otters, stately herons, comical ducks (several types), endangered fish species, musical frogs and squiggly tadpoles, an orchestra of birds, reclusive crawdads, respected owls, and more! If you sit still for a while, the local critters will come out and give you a show. Austin Creek is protected, so fishing is not allowed.

With the local slogan, “Redwoods & Rain” we nominate the Banana Slug as the metaphorical spokesperson for the Cazadero community. Take your time getting to your destination – it’s laid back here and speeding just leads to tickets and car sickness (for your passengers). Avoid sunburns by staying in the shade of redwood trees and tucked in the understory wildflowers. Only come out when conditions are right - staying away from predators by tasting icky and making slime – or simply retreat in your home or rental to chill and be with friends and family.

There aren’t many businesses in Cazadero, but we love the ones we’ve got:

  • The General Store is pretty old fashioned, but you’ll be surprised to see organic options, locally caught and butchered meat, a HUGE wine and beer selection with lots of local favorites not available in other areas, freshly made pastries and cookies to go with your coffee, and downright good sandwiches made to order. The age and use-worn wood steps and floors speak to how long the General 

    Store has served this community. Benches outside make it easy to eat on site. Cyclists – this is good spot to stop on long ride. The Cazadero Hardware store has anything you couldn’t find at the General Store.

  • Directly across from the General Store is Willys America. If you like old Jeeps and classic car restoration, stop by during business hours and ask in the office if you can look around the lot. It’s not guaranteed, but if they say yes, it’s a fun walkabout.
  • Raymond’s Bakery! A staple at farmer’s markets and Friday nights are not to be missed. Hours are otherwise hard to figure out, but live music, woodfired pizza, beer, wine, great company, and dancing makes this small town jewel worth visiting for Community Pizza Night (most Fridays).
  • Fort Ross Vineyard is the closest winery and it has a VIEW! In addition to wine tasting, off-road

     tours of the 1,000-acre estate in a four-wheeled Pinzgauer, featuring 58 acres of vineyards, redwood groves, and preserved open space are available by appointment.

  • The shops and restaurants of Duncan’s Mills and Jenner-by-the-Sea are minutes from Cazadero.

Activities and Getting Outside:

  • There’s a very long history of Boy and Girl Scout camps along with the Cazadero Performing Arts Camps and a wide variety of other private camps. Did you come to Camp Royaneh as a wee scout?

  • Cyclists – The famed King Ridge Road/Loop starts in Cazadero the Loop is known for 50 miles and 5000 feet of elevation gain and as part of Levi Leipheimer's GranFondo. Meyer’s Grade, Old Cazadero Rd, Fort Ross Rd, and Salmon Creek all promise stunning views and hot tub-worthy aches. Be safe!
  • Hikers – moderate to adventurous have plenty of options as well. Sections of Austin Creek State Recreation Area are still closed post-fire, but you’re a short hop to the Jenner Headlands, Islands in the Sky, The Kortum Trail, Pomo Canyon, and the Grove of Old Trees (for the youngsters). Check if potable water is available and if dogs are allowed before heading out. Technically not hiking, but we love walking the creek beds of Austin and East Austin Creeks when the water is low.

  • The Cazadero Historical Learning Center is part of a partnership with the Russian River Historical Society and located in a historic railroad station downtown - open limited hours. You’ll see the history of the railroad, logging and mining industries. Check out the original telegraph/railroad equipment and photos dating back to the late 1800s.  
  • Fort Ross and Salt Point are just up the coast and offer many hikes, historical points of interest, geologic adventures, and botanical fun like Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve.

Folks in the office are more than happy to make recommendations based on your interests and traveling companions. Just ask or check out our Things To Do pages. Click the Gallery to see more photos in and around Cazadero.