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Cloverdale, CA – Enticing day trips await in wine country

It’s where wine country meets the redwoods. Vineyards, wineries, Old Faithful geyser of California, a petrified forest, the Russian River, Burbank’s Gardens, Charles M. Schultz Snoopy Museum, the Geysers Thermal Electrical-Producing System, these features and many others are located within a day’s drive of Cloverdale, CA.

By extending further, you may visit the Pacific coast, San Francisco, the Delta and even the Sacramento area. Perhaps the Skunk Train, the Point Arena lighthouse, the historic Fort Ross or the Jelly Belly jellybean factory may have more appeal to your diverse senses.

The Russian River RV Resort in Cloverdale serves very well as a home base for several day trips. It’s a Thousand Trails property and you can find more information by clicking here.

(photo courtesy of Cloverdale Visitors Bureau)
(photo courtesy of Cloverdale Visitors Bureau)

If you wish to fill the days with wine tasting, there are approximately 260 vineyard/wineries covering 35,000 acres of land within driving distance in the northern Sonoma Valley. Vineyards cover the valleys, hillsides and mountainsides throughout the Russian River, Alexander and Dry Creek Valley’s. An acquaintance who has lived in Cloverdale since the 1970s expressed awe at the ever-increasing acreage of vineyards in recent years.

Assuming that you may have other interests besides wine tasting, I can recommend a loop day trip South on California Hwy 128 to Calistoga. One mile north of Calistoga, turn left on Todd Road to the Old Faithful Geyser of California, where you can watch this geyser erupt every 15 to 20 minutes. www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com

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Returning to California 128, turn west at the next road and drive a few miles to the Petrified Forest of California. Several very large redwoods and a lone pine tree were engulfed by volcanic ash and petrified more than 2 million years ago. Neither of these natural sites will compare to the national park sites by the same names, but they are certainly worth the time and price of admission if you are traveling the 101 Highway in northern California. www.petrifiedforest.org

Returning toward the east, take Hwy. 128 and drive to Main Street of Calistoga. Park and walk through the downtown business center. On the southeast corner, at the traffic light, the All Seasons Deli and wine bar serve the very best beer braised pulled pork sandwich and coleslaw that I have ever tasted. www.allseasonsnapavalley.net

Driving northward on California Hwy. 29 to Middletown, preferably by car or pickup and not by RV due to the winding roads, an interesting stop is at the visitors center for The Geysers. It’s a large thermal, energy-producing field that uses steam pressure to generate electricity. The electricity is used in a network extending from the Oregon/California border south to San Diego.

Because of low rainfall in The Geysers area in recent years processed sewage effluent is now being pumped via a pipeline for 40 miles from Santa Rosa to The Geysers. There the water is injected into the ground and steam is produced. There is no assurance that the use of the affluent has a positive ecological impact on the geysers; however, the visitors center does have a display of the historical and engineering aspects of this electricity producing enterprise. Unfortunately, tours of the Geysers and power plants are offered very rarely, perhaps as seldom as once per month or once per summer. www.geysers.com

(photo courtesy of Solar Living Center Real Goods Store
(photo courtesy of Solar Living Center Real Goods Store)

Leaving the Geysers visitors center and departing from Middletown, take Route 175 to Kelseyville and the Clear Lake reservoir. Then, return then to Hopland, the home of the nonprofit Solar Living Institute. Guided tours are offered to learn about solar and wind power, organic gardening and sustainable agriculture. The group also offers classes on brewing your own beer, aquaponics,  www.solarliving.org

A different and westward road leads from Cloverdale through more vineyards and a redwood forest to culminate at the Point Arena lighthouse. The tallest lighthouse that can be climbed on the West Coast, it is located on the point of land nearest to the Hawaiian Islands. At 115 feet high, the top of the tower offers an impressive 360-degree view of the ocean, cliffs and wooded hills to the East.

Immediately to the east the San Andreas fault runs northward and south to the Mexican border and beyond. The lighthouse was first built in 1870 and then reconstructed after the 1906 earthquake. It is still in use today. In the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse, the soil is being eroded rapidly on the seaward side by wave action. We were informed that geologists have indicated that the wave erosion may doom the lighthouse within the next 5 to 500 years. The entrance fee for the Point Arena lighthouse tour was $7.50 per adult. A small museum and gift shop were available at no charge. Several rental cabins are available on-site. www.pointarenalighthouse.com

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Driving South from the lighthouse took us to the Point Arena Pier, which was the focal point for shipping lumber, tan bark and other products for many years. It was also the home base for rescue squads that participated in saving many survivors from two dozen or more major seafaring disasters during the past 100 years. It is now a harbor for small craft and a local’s surfing location.

Continue to drive south on Hwy. 1 and intersect with Hwy. 101 after passing through several small towns. We chose to drive north and intersect Hwy. 128 back to Cloverdale. Route 128 is a well paved, curvy, highly engineered road that passes through a few small towns in picturesque valleys. On the westbound trip, I had chosen to drive west from Boonville directly to Point Arena. It is not actually “directly” because that 20-mile span of highway has dozens of hills and curves packed into each mile.

Somewhere enroute you are headed in every direction of the compass. I do not advise driving an RV, any RV, except perhaps a Class B, along the Mountain View Road to Point Arena. A 7 mile section of that highway is extremely narrow and is essentially a one-way road.

However, returning along the winding Hwy. 128 is a much safer route for RV travel. I did not see any RV parks or campgrounds along the entire loop which covered more than 100 miles. The views of the Pacific Ocean along the Highway 101 from point arena to Albion, Calif., are very beautiful and reminded me of similar sights along the Oregon coast.

(photo courtesy of Schultz museum)
(photo courtesy of Schultz museum)

One interesting side trip that I didn’t go on involves visiting the Charles M. Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., which is just 30 miles from Cloverdale  Guests can view one of the largest collections of original Peanuts cartoons in the world, along with a recreation of Schultz’ studio where Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy all came to life. After watching animated Peanuts specials in the theater, guests can draw their own cartoons in a hands-on recreation room. www.schulzmuseum.org

I highly recommend this day trip from the Russian River NACO RV Resort.

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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