Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve

Located in the Russian River country about an hour and a half's drive north of San Francisco, this 805-acre park features a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods, a large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails, and a variety of picnic facilities.

To get to the park, turn west on River Road from highway 101, approximately 2 miles north of Santa Rosa. Drive to Guerneville. At the second traffic signal in Guerneville, turn north (right) on Armstrong Road, which dead-ends in the park. 

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Area Map

Armstrong Woods picnic areaPhoto by R. Whitman

Armstrong Picnic Area

As you stroll through this beautiful old-growth redwood forest, you'll see some of the tallest and oldest trees remaining in this part of California. The Parson Jones Tree is about 310 feet high; the Colonel Armstrong Tree is more than 1,400 years old.

During the 1880's, this area was set aside as a "natural park and botanical garden" by Colonel James Armstrong, an early-day lumber man who recognized the beauty and natural value of the forests he harvested. Today, the ancient redwood forest within the park is the largest remaining old-growth redwood forest in Sonoma County. It is a living reminder of the magnificent primeval redwood forest that covered much of this area before logging operations began during the 19th century.

Along with the coast redwoods in this grove there are also a number of other trees including tan oak, California laurel, and big-leaf maple. In springtime, the forest floor is carpeted with clover-like redwood sorrel, trillium, fairy bells, and redwood orchids. In winter, mushrooms, mosses, lichens, and liverworts exhibit their fantastic shapes and colors.

The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) is the world's tallest living thing. (The very tallest redwood is 366 feet high.) They are also one of the world's oldest living things. (Some of them survive for as much as 2,000 years). They grow naturally only in a long, narrow belt along the coast from southern Oregon to central California where moderate climate combines with heavy winter rains and frequent summer fog. Coast redwoods reach their maximum size and height on alluvial flats like the one here beside Fife Creek.

Interpretive facilities designed to help park visitors enjoy this ancient redwood grove include a visitor center at the park entrance that is staffed by knowledgeable docents. Visitors can obtain park information, publications, and view the center's natural history exhibits before beginning their tour of the grove.

The self-guided Armstrong Nature Trail is an easy walk through the grove. Printed guides for the nature trail are available at the visitor center or park office.

The Discovery Trail is another interpretive feature in the grove. It was especially designed for the visually impaired, through it can be enjoyed by all park visitors.

The Redwood Forest Theater is of historic interest. Once used for the presentation of various artistic events, it now affords visitors a sunny opportunity to sit and ponder the beauty of the surrounding grove. Weddings and other social functions are no longer permitted at the Redwood forest Theater.

Tables and barbecue facilities are available in the picnic area, which includes a group picnic site that can be reserved through the park office.

There are no camping facilities in the park; however, camping is available at the adjacent Austin Creek Recreation Area.

We even have our own dinosaur!

Armstrong Woods dinosaur stump

For more information, call (707) 869-2015 or 865-2391

See also Austin Creek State Recreation Area, which adjoins Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.

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