To Doran Beach From Davis/Sacramento Area
Take I-80 towards Vallejo. (For folks pulling a large RV, this is the best route). You can go the Napa route, but it sure is a windy road.
TURN NUMBER 1:
Take the San Rafael exit (Hiway 37).
It’s a two-lane exit, stay in the left lane of the exit. You will bypass Six Flags/Vallejo.
NEW in 2006: Road construction is done through Vallejo! Now you will stay on the new freeway and bypass the business area of Vallejo.
You will go over the Mare Island Bridge. It’s a tall arched bridge.
Follow the road…. It’s a one lane over the flat marsh area.
Keep going straight thru the signal light at Infineon Raceway.
(They changed the name a few years ago. It used to be called Sears Point Raceway).
TURN NUMBER 2:
You’ll come to another signal light…..”Lakeville Road”… you’ll want to
turn right here.
Follow the road…. Nice drive thru eucalyptus trees and past some cattle ranches… past the wonderful smelling (if the wind is right) Petaluma Poultry Processing…*yummy*
As you come into Petaluma, keep going straight……It will take you past a McDonald’s on your right. In that same shopping center is an Albertson’s (might be called "Sav-On" now). Good place to shop for last minute supplies.
Keep going straight……tricky intersection coming up at a signal light.
Just before the intersection, there will be three lanes to be in…stay in the middle lane, as you will want to go straight through the intersection.
TURN NUMBER 3:
Here comes the old train station (it’s now the Petaluma Visitor’s Center) on your left and Taco Bell on your right…make a left turn at the signal light there.
Notice your odometer here….because the turn off to Doran is about 25 miles from this point….important for later on.
This will take you thru old Petaluma business district. Follow it…… it will become a residential area…..then gradually into farm land.
Follow the road…..through farm land….thru “Two Rock Valley”, no turns, just a bit of a curvy road.
Eventually you will end up thru the town of Valley Ford. Speed limit slows down to about 35mph. (Cops hide out here).
The town of Valley Ford is about 2 or 3 blocks long……great restaurant at the far end of town on your left side……”Dinucchis”….big old white building. They only serve dinners (Italian & seafood) open at 5pm, but closed a few days of mid-week.
Keep going… keep going….. it’s a curvy, winding road.
Finally on your right side is a turn off for “Bodega/Sebastopol”…you don’t want to turn.
But, down there about 1 mile is where they filmed “The Birds” with Alfred Hitchcock. Also thru there is the way to the hippie bakery (The Wild Flour: 707-874-2938) that makes fantastic bread.
Approximately 3.2 miles to go before the turn-off to Doran Beach.
You’ll pass the Hagerman Trout Farm on your right side. (Expensive, but fun)
Look at your odometer…has it been close to 25 miles yet?
Look for a sign saying “S. Harbour Way”….don’t turn there but your final turn is immediately after that. Put on your left turn blinker now.
TURN NUMBER 4:
Immediately after that you will turn left on a road going up a hill. There is no left turn lane for you, so use your left turn signal.
The road has a blue sign that says “Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa”.
Follow the road up the hill….stay left, keeping the lodge on your right……until you come to the ranger pay station. Last time I checked… it was $6.00 for day use fee and $19.00 for overnight in a campsite, dogs are $1 a day. Extra car in a campsite overnight is $6. Like all beaches in the Sonoma County Regional Parks system, Doran has a leash law (6’ leash maximum) and they have become extremely strict about it. Fines are over $100 for the first offense.
If you missed the turn…. Don’t despair. Look sharp… there is a street somewhat hidden in trees on your left coming up almost instantly and it has a left turn lane to use. Turn there and go up to the stop sign and make a sharp right turn. I’ve made the turn pulling a 35’ RV, but it’s tight. Follow the road to the campground.
The restrooms/showers are in a building with a blue roof between “Gull” & “Cove” campgrounds. Showers are coin-operated. They take only quarters and it takes 5 quarters to turn on the water. One person can shower on 5 quarters. If you shower with a friend…..bring lots of quarters. The shower on the end is the best as it has a removable shower head so you can rinse all the “nooks & crannies”.
Phone number for Doran Beach reservations: 707-565-2267 10am to 3pm Only
Phone number to Doran Beach ranger kiosk: 707-875-3540
If you feel like exploring :
To get to the hippie bakery called “The Wild Flour” (707-874-2938), from the campground go back to the main road and turn right. Travel back approximately 3.2 miles & turn left at the “Bodega/Sebastopol” sign. (About a mile down the road is where they filmed "The Birds") and follow the road approximately 5.3 miles. You will come to a left turn called “Freestone”. Turn here and the bakery is just ahead on the left. Bread is about $5.50 a loaf and worth every penny. HINT: Check out the bread of the day (Fugasse) to see what it is. The bakery is open only 4 days a week. Call them ahead of time to see if they are open and what their hours are. ------Cash only
You can also continue on past the bakery and about another 9 miles or so is the small town of “Occidental”. Two famous restaurants there (“Negre’s” & “Union Hotel”).
To get to “Sebastopol” Don’t turn left to go to the bakery and continue on for about 9 miles and you’ll come to Sebastopol. Nice little drive.
Points of Interest, Grocery stores etc…..
From the campground, go back to the main road and turn left to go into Bodega Bay. There is a visitor’s information center just before the one & only gas station on your right.
Visit “Lucas’s Wharf” or a little further is “The Tides Restaurant and Wharf” on your left.
A small grocery store will be on your left a little further up called “Diekmanns”.
Another little store will be a bit further up still on your right in a small brown wood shopping center. It’s on a curve and easy to miss. The little shopping center is called “Pelican Plaza”. On your left across from Pelican Plaza is a store with all sorts of wind socks outside.
Up the coast past Pelican Plaza is a left turn called Eastshore Road. Take it to go to the harbor and the Bodega Head. At the stop sign, turn right. Drive about 3.4 miles, along the harbor and after a sharp hairpin turn drive uphill. Stay to the right and continue 0.2 mile to the parking lot of the Bodega Head. Wonderful place to spot whales.
Follow the directions to #5 just above, but at the stop sign go straight. Follow the road to the "Sandpiper" Restaurant. It's a small restaurant serving good food usually.
About two miles up the coast past Pelican Plaza is the Chanslor Ranch (707-875-2721) where you can rent horses to ride on the beach. Reservations required. About $40 to $50 a ride.
Also in that area is Bodega Dunes Campground on your left. It’s worth checking out and getting a brochure for future camping if you like it. Reservations are usually required to get a spot here.
About 7 miles or so up the coast is “Wright’s Beach”. It’s a really neat SMALL campground right on the beach. Extremely popular and you need reservations to camp here.
Three Day Use Areas at Doran Beach
If you want day use only (no camping), you have to be out by sunset.
After the Ranger pay station, drive about a ½ mile and there will be a day use area on your left with trees, a paved parking lot, and a small building with flush toilets. There are some spots on the sand with ½ circle cement block walls around them for wind protection.
You can also keep going past that and there will be parking on your left that you can park at. Flush toilets are on your right at the campground in a small building with a blue metal top.
Another option is to keep driving all the way to the end of the road and there is some parking, picnic tables and a small building with flush toilets.