Bodega Bay Daytrip: Visit Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Once a year forest bloom happening now. 

Visit for more about California’s parks

Vivid pink petals of wild rhododendrons color the forest in the Kruse State Reserve for a few short weeks around Mother’s Day, and the natural event is now in full swing on the Reserve’s 300 acres, 30 miles north of Bodega Bay on Hwy 1.

The delicate bloom is the parting gift of a fire that raced through the slopes of the Reserve decades ago. California wildfires are a destructive reminder of nature’s unpredictable power, but for all their devastation, wildfires also regenerate. By reducing dead wood to ash, they turn old growth into fertile nutrients to feed new growth. Fire also clears dense woodlands and undergrowth, creating openings for sunlight to reach the ground.

So in their wake, burns leave an opportunity for fast growing plants to establish a foothold, a chance they otherwise wouldn’t have in the deep forest shade. And one of those lucky opportunists is the native Pacific broadleaf rhododendron.

Now well established, the lanky rhododendrons open clusters of rosy pink blooms in late spring, adding a brief splash of unexpected color among the shaded greens and browns of the Reserve’s fern canyons, firs and redwoods. The display is all the more stunning because pink is a rare color in north coast forests.

The bloom varies from year to year depending on conditions, and the regrown forest – which now shows few signs of the fire – has taken back much of the open space, so the flowers are sprinkled here and there along the trail – but it’s still worth the visit.  The rhododendron can reach upwards for sunlight twenty feet, so bouquets of blossoms hang high overhead in some places, and you’ll only know they’re there by noticing petals that have dropped onto the trail. In other spots the color is at eye height and magnificent.

The rhodies aren’t the only visual feast. Second growth redwoods, douglas firs and tanoaks make a pleasant forest, varieties of lush green ferns abound, and other bloomers – redwood sorrel, the tiny yellow violet, orange lilies and other wildflowers – make it a refreshing walk, with bridges across several seasonal burbling streams.

The Kruse Rhododendron Reserve is a one hour drive north of Bodega Bay on winding but spectacular Hwy 1, a few miles north of Salt Point State Park. Entrance is free. Turn east up Kruse Ranch Road, a one lane gravel road, and stop at the obvious parking area. There are three miles of trail in the 300 acre reserve. A very short loop near the parking area gives a quick look, and two interconnecting main trails wind up and down through the two gulches that cross the reserve, with cutoffs allowing for shorter or longer hikes, up to a 2.2 mile loop. It’s a moderate walk, and easiest to start up China trail with its milder grade and descend on the steeper Phillips gulch leg. There are also some views of blooms along the gravel road, which is the easiest walk, just watch for the occasional traffic.

By: Stephen Nett


Salmon Creek ArtWalk – May 14-15


Directions: From San Francisco, take Hwy 101 North to Petaluma. At Petaluma take the Washington St Exit. Turn left on Washington St. and continue all the way to Bodega Bay (The street name will change several times but will eventually turn into Hwy 1.) Hwy 1 will take you all the way to Bodega Bay! Don’t turn off of Hwy 1. We’re one mile North of Bodega Bay. Look for our signs.


Map of Salmon Creek ArtWalk

Castles and Kites – May 7th – Doran Park

CastlesAndKitesThis annual festival features spectacular kites, demonstrations and training on the beach with sand sculpture creations. Park representatives are on hand with tools and molds to help you create your own! Overnight camping available.

Tall Ship Cannon Battles Scheduled in Bodega Bay

Both-boats-parallel-e1355691228803-281x300The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will visit Bodega Bay April 13-18, 2016 and offer walk-on tours, educational programs, and cannon battles from Spud Point Marina, 1818 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay. The ships are currently on a seven-month tour of California ports. Both ships are U.S. Coast Guard-inspected passenger vessels. Here’s their public schedule in Bodega Bay.

4/13: Arrive late afternoon / early evening
4/14-15: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation
4/16-17: 9 a.m. to noon, Battle Sail, $39-$75
4/16-17: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation
4/18: Ships closed to the public

Three-hour Battle Sails are recreations of a typical 18th-century naval skirmish between two tall ships. The vessels fire a real cannon with real gunpowder, but no cannon balls. Guests are encouraged to verbally taunt their adversaries and assist with ship operations, such as raising a sail. Tickets are $75 adults, $67 students/seniors/active military, $39 children 12/under. Purchase tickets online or by calling 800-200-5239.

A 15 percent discount is available for online purchases of four or more Battle Sail tickets. The discount is applied instantly at the time of purchase. The discount is not available for telephone orders or walk-up purchases at the ships. A telephone order fee may apply.

Commercial Crab Fishing Boat Overloading

Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous industries in the world. According to U. S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2014, commercial fishing was the second most dangerous occupation in the country with over 80 fatalities per 100,000 workers.* Crab fishing is without-a-doubt the most dangerous sub-category of the commercial fishing industry, and the 2016 California Dungeness crab season could be one of the most dangerous yet. Every year, crab fishermen all along the West Coast are seriously injured or worse, die trying to bring these delicious creatures affectionately known as “Dungies” to our dinner table. The good news is that injuries and deaths are largely avoidable if fishermen fully understand the dangers of overloading their vessels with traps and catch.

Nearly every commercial crab fishing accident involves an overloading or vessel stability causal factor. It usually goes something like this: The boat leaves the harbor with too many crab traps on deck so that the sheer weight of the traps causes the boat to ride dangerously low in the water. This leads to vessel instability, meaning that it is very susceptible to flooding and tipping over or capsizing. The problem is exacerbated when the boat is in rough seas and/or strong winds. When the crew is on the fishing grounds and putting traps in the water, or when they are being retrieved, the vessel leans to the point of no return and flips over. The fishermen are thrown into the frigid water with little or no warning. Some of them immediately slip beneath the surface as they succumb to a physiological response known as Cold Water Shock Syndrome. Others struggle to stay afloat as they fight against the effects of hypothermia. No one had time to put on a lifejacket or an immersion suit and no one could get to the radio to call for help. They can only hope that another boat is nearby and saw what happened or that their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) will automatically alert the Coast Guard that they are in distress.

This “hypothetical” scenario plays out a few times each year along the West Coast. It actually occurred last February about six miles off the coast of San Francisco, except that the crew was able to radio for help just prior to going into the water, and no one was injured or died.
The crew was exceptionally lucky that they survived to fish another day.

The 2016 California Dungeness crab fishing season could potentially be more dangerous than previous seasons due to a couple of unique factors. The first factor is that the season has been delayed due to high levels of domoic acid found within the crabs. Once fisheries management authorities determine that the crab are safe to catch, crab fishermen will be anxious to get out there, “soak some traps”, and make some money. These fishermen will be trying to put as many traps in the water as they can as quickly as possible. That means they will be stacking as many traps on the boat as possible, per trip, which creates unstable vessels.

The second factor is the a-typical weather and sea conditions brought about by El Nino. The off- shore sea conditions have been unusually rough this winter and may remain that way throughout the crab season. There are a lot of fishermen that have not fished in conditions this rough before and may, through lack of experience, choose to go out in conditions that exceed their or their boat’s capabilities. This combination of a “sense of urgency”, a desire to maximize efficiency by carrying a maximum load of traps, and potential rough sea conditions, are the perfect ingredients for a loss of stability-type accident.

If you are a commercial crab fisherman, please take the time to thoroughly understand your vessel’s stability limitations, and to not exceed those limits. It’s important to remember that losing your boat and crew is not worth a few extra crab pots. If you are unsure about the ins-and-outs of vessel stability, contact your local Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Vessel Examiner for help – it’s a free service! Our Examiners have a lot of experience and have outstanding, free educational materials that might just save your life and the life of your crew.

Article by Lieutenant Commander Jon Lane, U. S. Coast Guard

*U. S. Bureau of Labor 2014 Census of Occupational Injuries: The national occupational fatality rate is 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers; logging is the most dangerous occupation with 110 deaths per 100,000 workers.
About the Author: Lieutenant Commander Jon Lane is the Chief of the Marine Casualty Investigations Division at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. He was a helicopter rescue swimmer for 15 years and rescued numerous commercial fishermen before becoming an investigator. Since then he has investigated commercial fishing vessel accidents in Alaska, Washington, and Northern California for the last 10 years.

Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival – April 9 & 10 2016

Welcome to the home of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival. Since 1973, this event has celebrated our local fisherman and it’s when salmon season is kicked off with a blessing of the fleet. The Festival is packed with events for people of all ages: craft booths, live music, good food, entertainment and more.


The Fisherman’s Festival is an all-volunteer event and proceeds from the Festival benefit Bodega Bay Area community services.

Fish jumping through peace symbol

Julianne Sooley

Saturday April 9 & 
Sunday, April 10
10 am – 5 pm

Westside Park, Bodega Bay

Admission $12
2-day pass $20
Seniors $10 • Kids under 12 are free


~ Well-behaved and Leashed Pets Welcome
~ Free Parking  ~ Handicap Accessible

Visit the Information Booth for details & updates


Kid Zone • Touch Tank Tide Pool • Informational Nonprofit Booths
CHP and Sonoma County Sheriff helicopter landings • US Coast Guard rescue demos in the harbor

Westside Park is operated by Sonoma County Regional Parks. Sonoma County Board of Supervisors grant sponsor.
The Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival is a 501 (c) (3) California nonprofit charitable organization.
All proceeds from the Festival benefit Bodega Bay Area community services.

Hitchcock Film Fest – March 12th

FilFestJoin us on Saturday, March 12th in Bodega Bay, original filming location for The Birds!

Two movies will be shown:  The Birds & North by Northwest.  Two of Hitchcock’s best movies.  Fun begins at 3:30 pm for an introduction by Dan Sneed, Hitchcock Expert Enthusiast, then watch The Birds.  At 7:00, North by Northwest.

Spend the day enjoying our beautiful Bodega Bay, then sit back, relax and enjoy some classics!

Award Winning Spud Point Clam Chowder will be available purchase along with Candy, Popcorn, Wine & Beer!

Get your picture taken with Alfred! Dress up as Tippie or Alfred too!



polenta flyer

13th Annual Chowder Day Results

BodegaBayHomePage2-7-161 – Spud Point Crab Company
2 – Fishetarian
3 – Blue Water Bistr

Struggling Bodega Bay Crab Fishermen Get Boost From Community With Grocery Gift Cards

empty_potsCommunity members in Bodega banded together to help provide struggling crab fishermen with necessities as thousands of crab traps sit idle after the department of public health banned fishing for the popular crustaceans.

“It’s just devastating right now, very devastating. It’s a great gesture,” Bodega Fisherman Tony Anello said.

People in the community were worried about their fishermen, so some residents pooled their money to buy 100 Safeway gift cards for those needing food.  The cards were worth $100 each.

The complete story can be found HERE.