2021 Events at Fort Ross

2021 Events at Fort Ross

Fort Ross Harvest Festival - Saturday, October 16th

10am – 3pm
Happy Fall! What better time to announce we will be hosting Fort Ross Harvest Festival than as we feel the crispness of autumn. It has been two years since we welcomed you to this event and we have missed you all!

Our dear friends from Russian House Kedry will tantalize your eyes and ears with their enchanting traditional Russian songs and dances.
As the health and happiness of our visitors are paramount, this will be a low key version of our usual Harvest Festival celebration. We will not be organizing pumpkin carving, apple painting, or apple juicing this year due to the close proximity these activities require.

The schedule is approximately as follows, but this is a relaxed event so please come to enjoy the fresh air no matter how the day unfolds:

  • Apple Picking - All day or until the fruit has been picked
  • 10:30am to 11:30am - Russian House Kedry Song and Dance in the orchard
  • Around 11:00am - Interpretive Talk in the Historic Orchard
  • 1:00pm - Slavitza Folk Song & Dance in the fort compound
  • 2:00pm - Guided Tour of Fort Ross with Historical Specialist

Pack a picnic, bring an empty bag to collect fruit, and help us harvest the bounty of the orchard. We encourage gentle harvest of all the fruit found in the orchard.
Bake a pie and tag us @fortrossconservancy with the result! We’d love to see what you do with these beautiful fruits. 
Bring a hat and wear layers - weather on the coast can change quickly.

Please note: To keep our staff safe we will not have a shuttle this year --  please park at the main parking lot and walk up to the orchard. If you have an ADA placard you can park across from the orchard. And you may drive to the orchard to drop members of your group off who may not be able to walk up to the orchard, but cars without ADA placards must park in the main Fort Ross parking lot. It's about a twenty minute walk from the visitor center to the orchard.

This event is free. California State Parks $10/car parking fees apply
Call or email us for more information


  • December 11th, 2021: Fort Ross Conservancy Holiday Party
  • May 2022: Reef Campground slated to reopen
  • July 30, 2022: Fort Ross Festival (long overdue, so next year’s event will be a big one!)

Fort Ross Conservancy Directors Meetings Schedule

Upcoming Marine Mammal Monitoring Events:

Harbor Seal Surveys: Assist us with our citizen scientist effort monitoring the harbor seals that haul out along our coast. Contact Song Hunter at songh@fortross.org for survey dates.

Steller Sea Lion Surveys: Contact Charon Vilnai at charonv@fortross.org for survey dates.




Fort Ross First Saturdays is on hold for now.

Wondering when to visit Fort Ross? We suggest Fort Ross First Saturdays!

First Saturdays in 2020: February 1st, March 7th, May 2nd, June 6th, July 4th, August 1st, September 5th, October 3rd, November 7th, December 5th.

While every day at Fort Ross is special, on the first Saturday of each month we offer extra interpretation and more reasons to come visit: a Russian windmill demonstration, Call House Museum tours, and the Fort Ross Talk and Tea!


Windmill Turning - 12:00 p.m.

Our experienced windmill docents will turn the mill into the wind, explain its unique construction, and share with you how the two mills were used during the Russian era. Windmill talk and demonstration takes place only on the first Saturday of each month.

Free with park entrance; donations appreciated!


Call House Tours - 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Take a guided tour through the Call House Museum and learn about early-California life on the farm during the American Ranch period. You’ll see how hand-crank telephones work and how the square grand piano found its way from Boston to rural Sonoma coast. The Call House is open both Saturday and Sunday on the first weekend of the month from 1pm to 4pm.

Free with park entrance; donations appreciated!


Fort Ross Compound Walking Tour and Tea with Samovar - 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Hear the behind-the-scenes stories of Fort Ross/Metini by joining us on a guided tour through the fort compound. We’ll venture behind locked doors and outside the compound walls to learn about the surrounding neighborhoods of the Kashia Pomo, Alaska Native, Russian, and Ranch eras.

Following our hour-long tour, let’s sit down at the samovar for a cup of hot tea and treats. Meet at 2:30pm at the Visitor Center. $20/person plus California State Park parking fees apply. Tour led by Fort Ross Conservancy’s bilingual (English and Russian) guide Hank Birnbaum. Limited seating, reservations highly suggested Reserve your spot for Tour & Tea here.



CANCELLED: Help Save an Endangered Species! – March 19, 11:00 a.m.

Viola adunca/Behren’s Silverspot Butterfly Survey Training
Join us for the return of our botanical treasure hunt! We are looking for volunteers to explore the beautiful coastal bluffs of Fort Ross and Salt Point State Parks in search of the tiny flower known as the Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca) and to upload your findings using the “Calflora” app on your smartphone.

The flower is the host plant for the endangered Behren’s Silverspot butterflies found along our coast. Because of the data we’ve collected in previous surveys, California State Parks (CSP) and Fort Ross Conservancy were awarded a Coastal Prairie Restoration Grant of $100,000 to restore our grasslands and save our butterfly friends! We owe our dedicated volunteers for being a huge part of that success!

This year’s surveys will further Fort Ross Conservancy and State Park’s conservation efforts to improve our coastal prairie habitat. Email melissab@fortross.org to participate in the training or simply Register Here




CANCELLED: Earth Day & Spring Celebration – Saturday, April 25


Celebrate and honor Spring and Earth Day on one of the most gorgeous and historically fascinating spots on the Sonoma Coast. Earth Day at Fort Ross offers something for everyone!

Volunteer! Start the day volunteering with Fort Ross Conservancy staff and Sonoma State University students as we tackle invasive species removal on the coast bluffs. 9:30am – 12pm. No charge. Wear comfortable clothes and bring sunscreen, layers, and a hat.

Learn! Learn from expert guest speakers about California’s coastal ecology, and how we can all do our part to lessen the impacts of global climate change. Bring a bag lunch and enjoy the sun with the Pacific Ocean as our classroom. 12pm – 1:30pm. No charge. ; California State Parks entrance fees apply. Call Picnic Area.

Ryan Tucker Jones teaches environmental history at the University of Oregon. He will be talking about the destruction of the sea otter population from Siberia to California, and telling the unknown story of Russia’s desperate attempts to save the species in the 1800s.

Spring Celebration! Join Kedry for “Krasnaya Gorka” (a traditional Slavic folk celebration, the week after Orthodox Easter) in the Fort Compound, 1:30-2:30, for spring calling songs, various circle dances and games.

Tour & Tea! Hear the behind-the-scenes stories of Fort Ross/Metini by joining us on a guided tour through the fort compound. We’ll venture behind locked doors and outside the compound walls to learn about the surrounding neighborhoods of the Kashia Pomo, Alaska Native, Russian, and Ranch eras. Following our hour-long tour, let’s sit down at the samovar for a cup of hot tea, treats and a select few songs by the day’s performers. Tour led by Fort Ross Conservancy’s bilingual (English and Russian) guide Hank Birnbaum. Limited seating, reservations required for the tour and tea. Meet at 2:30pm at the Ocean Gate, Fort Compound. $25/person plus California State Park parking fees.

Concert! End the day with traditional folk songs inspired by the cycles of nature’s elements with Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble and Russian House Kedry $30/person special event fee applies for concert, or $55/person for concert, tour and tea.


Alaska Native Day becomes Biennial


Beginning this year, AND will be an odd-year event opposite Celebration. Celebration is a four-day even-year festival in Juneau to honor Alaska Native culture. This year, tribes from all over Alaska will fly, dance, and paddle into Juneau to perform ceremony from June 10-14, 2020. Follow Celebration at https://www.sealaskaheritage.org/institute/celebration.

Alaska Native Day at Fort Ross will resume on May 15, 2021 and will continue every other year. The Alaskans will be at Fort Ross Festival in July to represent our history at the fort. Join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/673196519411277/to share Alaska Native culture and history at Metini/Ross and beyond.




CANCELLED: Snapshot Cal Coast - Fort Ross State Historic Park BioBlitz

Sunday, June 7, 8:45 am


Register Here

Get your cameras and smartphones ready! Join Fort Ross Conservancy as we come together for the statewide movement led by The California Academy of Sciences to get out to the coast, search for as many creatures as we can find, and share the photos of our discoveries on the website and app, iNaturalist.

We will meet at Fort Ross State Historic Park at 8:45 a.m. to witness as much of the – 1.4 tide at 6:52 a.m. as possible.

Free camping will be available at Salt Point to those who Register Here, so bring your tents, sleeping bags, meals, and s’mores ingredients! We will be camping in groups, first 24 to register only will camp for free.

What to bring – Your smart device or camera, rain boots or other shoes OK with getting wet, warm layers, sun hat, sunscreen, lunch, snacks, water.

Snapshot Cal Coast is a California statewide effort to document our coastal biodiversity and hold a series of BioBlitzes up and down the California Coast, focusing on intertidal zones in marine protected areas (MPAs). We will be working together with the MPA Collaborative Network and other partners to create a “snapshot” in time of where species are located along our coast.

Contact Director of Programs Song K Hunter for more info at songh@fortross.org


What is a BioBlitz?


BioBlitzes bring people together to document biodiversity in one place at one time, recording observations of plants and animals using smartphones or digital cameras and uploading results to the biodiversity recording and social networking platform iNaturalist (www.inaturalist.org). These events connect people of all backgrounds to the outdoors, inspire everyone to protect biodiversity, and at the same time generate invaluable data.

Working together, we can learn a lot more about our coast. We are off to a pretty good start here in the Golden State– click here to explore all of the observations made with iNaturalist along the entire California coast over the past nine years. In a typical grassroots, one-day BioBlitz, together with ~50 volunteers, we make 1500 observations of about 250 species in 3-4 hours. So, over these two weeks in June, we could add 14,000 observations, and generate a coast-wide snapshot of California Coastal biodiversity.


Why BioBlitz?


We have never attempted a coordinated BioBlitz on this scale with specific questions in mind. This series of coastal BioBlitzes and individual observations will:

  • Gather data critical to understanding and managing marine species
  • Build awareness of the biodiversity of the California coast and the MPA Collaborative Network
  • Bring together local community in support of marine stewardship
  • Recruit new volunteers
  • Be really fun

Together we will increase knowledge of California’s ocean and coastal habitats and their wildlife populations. We will foster collaborations among state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and tribes, and engage a broad range of California’s communities in activities that promote coastal conservation and connect us to nature and each other. This series of events will also work to build and expand our community of citizen scientists and stewards who can collectively advance scientific research and protection of California’s marine resources. The resulting data will be invaluable to managers and scientists for determining long-term trends, and we will be the first to use tools such as iNaturalist to monitor California’s MPAs at the same moment in time.

Event brought to you by Fort Ross Conservancy in partnership with California State Parks and The California Academy of Sciences


CANCELLED: Fort Ross Festival – Saturday, July 25


Looking for the perfect way to celebrate Summer in Sonoma County? Join us on July 25th for Fort Ross Festival! Where else can you witness Kashia Pomo ceremonial dancing, listen to folk, gypsy and bluegrass music, learn from Alaska Native craftspeople, and take in traditional Russian performances, all together on the most beautiful stretch of the Sonoma coast? Grab a pint from our Beer Garden and enjoy an amazing day celebrating different cultures. In addition, with fantastic support from California State Parks, we will have cannon firings and militia demonstration!

We will be holding our third Borsch Cook-Off! If you have a recipe you’d like to share, bring a pot of borscht and see how your borscht compares to others in the competition and win some prizes!


California Coastal Cleanup Day – September 26, 2020


9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Join Fort Ross Conservancy and the California Coastal Commission in the statewide movement, Coastal Cleanup Day!

Last year, 72 ocean-loving volunteers came together at Fort Ross to collect and dispose of over 500 pounds of trash found on our beaches! Unfortunately, we covered only a small section of the Fort Ross coastline, so let’s get together on September 26th and continue the amazing work already started getting our beaches back to their pristine condition.

Bring: layers, sturdy shoes (you’ll be scrambling up and down rocks to get down to the beach), water, lunch, a hat, and your camera. All ages welcome!

We will provide: contractor bags for trash, gloves, trash tongs, and light refreshments in the morning.

Questions? Email Song Hunter at songh@fortross.org

Meet at the Visitor Center at 9:30 a.m.

Fort Ross Conservancy, 19005 Coast Highway One, Jenner, CA 95450

CANCELLED: Harvest Festival – Saturday, October 10

Harvest is the time to enjoy autumn’s fresh air with friends and family, acknowledging all that the seasons provide us. Please join us! Harvest Festival is a free event. Please park at the main parking lot and take the shuttle to the orchard. Regular State Parks kiosk fees of $8/car apply.

There will not be food vendors at the park–please bring a picnic.

CANCELLED: Community Holiday Potluck – Saturday, December 12

12 – 3 pm Fort Ross Auditorium

We invite our friends, members, and local community to join us at 12pm for our annual holiday party. FRC will bring a few hearty main dishes to share. Please bring a side, salad, or dessert for the table.

Questions? Email Sarjan Holt at sarjanh@fortross.org or call 707/847-3437.





Past Events of 2020:

Gerstle Cove-Stump Beach First Day Hike Wednesday, January 1, 10:30 am – 2:00 pm Salt Point State Park

The most exciting time of the year to see the wild beauty of the Sonoma Coast is mid winter, as the waves boom to shore, the dark clouds roil out over the Pacific Ocean and (thanks to our November rains) the first wildflowers begin to peep up. Even when the sky is moody and gray the ocean is alive. What better way to begin the year than a bracing hike right at the water’s edge and then safely view the heavy breakers rolling in.

We will meet at the large day use parking area at Gerstle Cove (restrooms available) at 10:30 am. This is a mostly level easy hike on marine terraces north all the way to Stump Beach, which is 1.2 miles each way (with optional carpool return shuttle). We will pass by the tafoni honeycomb geologic sandstone formations Salt Point State Park is famous for and stop briefly by an arched rock. If the weather permits we have the added option to descend a narrow steep trail to Stump Beach and enjoy our bag lunches perched on driftwood logs at the sandy beach and then hike up a steep draw and through the woods (and up and over some downed trees) to a scenic overlook plus perhaps see the waterfalls at nearby Phillip’s Gulch Creek. Plan for 3 hours round trip and a bit longer if we are able to ford Miller Creek at Stump Beach and continue north.

Please bring your own water, a bag lunch, layered clothing, sunscreen, headwear, hiking boots (be prepared for some possible brisk wind and seaside moisture) and if desired, optional hiking sticks, binoculars, and camera. Not recommended for kids under eight and – sorry –no dogs are permitted on Salt Point State Park trails, or on the beach. Hike co-leaders are California State Park’s Susanna Barlow and Fort Ross Conservancy’s Hank Birnbaum. California State Park parking fees apply. Salt Point State Park brochure & map link. Pair this hike with a 2:30pm Fort Ross Guided Tour & Tea. For more information please email hankb@fortross.org or call 707-847-3437. For rain cancellation info, please email or call (707) 321-5783. Limited cell phone and wifi reception on the north Sonoma Coast.

First Day Fort Ross Guided Tour & Tea

Wednesday, January 1 2:30-4:00pm Fort Ross State Historic Park $10/person

Learn the inside stories of Fort Ross, featuring a guided tour through the fort compound, behind locked doors, including an introduction to surrounding neighborhoods and the Kashia Pomo, Russian and Ranch eras. Following our hour-long tour, let’s sit down at the samovar for a cup of hot tea before you hit the road. Meet at 2:30pm at the Fort Ross Visitor Center. $10/person plus California State Park parking fees apply. Tour led by Fort Ross Conservancy’s bilingual (English and/or Russian) guide Hank Birnbaum. Pair this tour with a morning Salt Point First Day Hike. Email hankb@fortross.org or call (707) 847-3437.

Fort Ross Winter Celebration – Saturday, January 25


12-1:30 p.m. Traditional Russian Kolyadki singing, skit & games

Join “Russian House Kedry” at Fort Ross to learn about the traditional Russian Winter holiday “Kolyadki” and the upcoming transition to Spring.Enjoy kid friendly traditional folk games, crafts, song and baking, all to help celebrate Tatyana’s Day, the traditional day for honoring all students.

2-4 p.m. Fort Ross Compound Walking Tour and Tea with Samovar

Hear the behind-the-scenes stories of Fort Ross/Metini by joining us on a guided tour through the fort compound. We’ll venture behind locked doors and outside the compound walls to learn about the surrounding neighborhoods of the Kashia Pomo, Alaska Native, Russian, and Ranch eras. Following our hour-long tour, let’s sit down at the samovar for a cup of hot tea, treats and traditional folk songs with Kedry. Meet at 2:00pm at the Ocean Gate to Fort Compound. $20/person plus California State Park parking fees apply. Tour led by Fort Ross Conservancy’s bilingual (English and Russian) guide Hank Birnbaum. Limited seating, reservations highly suggested: Reserve your spot for Tour & Tea here.

Russian Festival in SF – February 21, 22 & 23

Enjoy the traditions of Old Russia at Russian Center in San Francisco!

Food, Music, Dancing, Vodka Tasting, Russian Treats & Sweets, Kids’ Crafts, Face Painting & Games, Art Gallery, Museum of Russian Culture. Please see the Russian Center website for more information.


Snapshot Cal Coast 2020 SUMMER & FALL: June 1st-November 16th!


This year due to the Coronavirus, our regularly scheduled summer Snapshot Cal Coast event had to be cancelled. Thankfully, areas of the coast are starting to open back up, giving us the opportunity to adapt and update this wonderful event. From June 1st-November 16th, Cal Academy will be holding a ‘physically distant and hyper-local’ Snapshot Cal Coast. Please only go to beaches that you can get to safely and legally on your own or with your families and make observations as long as you are following local laws and respecting beach closures. Fort Ross Conservancy will be partnering with Cal Academy, who will provide digital and online resources, and a list of beaches and places we most need data from. We are hoping to host a more traditional Snapshot Cal Coast event some time between November 28th-December 16th. Stay tuned!

Background on Snapshot Cal Coast

For 1-2 weeks every year, Fort Ross Conservancy, Cal Academy, and many other non profits, agencies and individuals mobilize up and down the State of California to make and share observations of as many coastal species as possible.

From Del Norte to San Diego and everywhere in between, we work together to build an annual snapshot of biodiversity along the California coast that is useful for scientists at local, regional, and state levels. We are building our community of observers and recorders interested in documenting California coastal biodiversity and answer targeted research questions in support of California Marine Protected Areas.

Together, we are gathering the data needed to determine species ranges now against which we can measure and monitor changes in the future.

How to participate in Snapshot Cal Coast 2020 Summer & Fall:

  1. Follow all local laws and respect beach closures and physical distancing rules. Check out these regularly updated lists of beach closures & rules. Sonoma County parks.
  2. Download the iNaturalist app for iPhone or Android
  3. Create an account to start making observations.
  4. Follow the Snapshot Cal Coast Summer & Fall 2020 project.
  5. Find a beach that needs data and sign up here or choose a beach or coastal area you can visit regularly.
  6. Head to the coast on your own, with your family or with the people you live with between June 1st-November 16th! Make and share observations of plants and animals you see, especially species on our most-wanted list.
  7. Here is a list of dates with good low tides in California, but check out NOAA’s tide table to find exact times for low tides near you.
  8. Spread the word! Use our hashtag on social media #SnapshotCalCoast