Over Memorial Day weekend, we originally planned to visit Great Basin National Park but due to the heavy snowfall this past winter, a large part of the park was still closed. Luckily, we knew this was a possibility and booked another trip for the same weekend to hedge our bets.
While we weren’t checking another National Park off our list, we did have a blast exploring the majestic California Coast between Bodega Bay and Point Arena. We stopped at Bowling Ball Beach, Fort Ross, and several of the beaches in Sonoma Coast State Park, including Goat Rock Beach, Blind Beach, Shell Beach, Wright’s Beach, Duncan’s Landing, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, North Salmon Beach, and South Salmon Beach.
Duncan’s Landing, also called Duncans Cove and Duncans Point, is a small peninsula and beach located about half-way between Bodega Bay and Jenner along California’s Pacific Coast. It boasts gorgeous wildflowers in the spring, stunning ocean views, and a secluded beach.
Lumbering operations in the late 1800s turned Duncan’s Point and its sheltered cove into a busy shipping point for lumber products created at Duncan’s Mill on the Russian River. Old maps of the area shows two lumber chutes extending into the cove from the headland.
Duncan’s Landing Overlook
The Duncan’s Landing Overlook atop the bluffs at Duncan’s Landing is a one-way, 0.25 mile lollipop loop that features spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and provides access to Duncan’s Cove — a beach tucked beneath the cliffs directly south of the landing.
Duncan’s Cove Beach
To reach the beach in Duncan’s Cove, you have to hike down a very steep dirt trail from the parking area high on the bluffs. If the parking area is full — or the loop road at the overlook is closed like it was when we visited — you can park in the roadside parking area along Highway One just south of the Duncan’s Landing entrance and walk in.
Famous for being one of the deadliest beaches along the Sonoma Coast, Duncan’s Landing has earned the name Death Rock. Its cold waters and large and unpredictable surf is responsible for many ocean deaths.
Do yourself a favor and enjoy the beach but stay off the rocks and out of the surf. There have been reports of waves crashing ashore all the way up to the parking lot, knocking people into the surf, and sweeping them away.
Know Before You Go
- Duncan’s Landing is located six miles north of Bodega Bay and five miles south of Jenner at 6947 Cliff Avenue, Bodega Bay, California 94923 in Sonoma County.
- It is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park
- Download the Sonoma Coast State Park Brochure.
- The large sandy beach on the north side of Duncans Landing is Wright’s Beach. The beach on the south side is Duncan’s Cove.
- Duncan’s Landing was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
- Duncan’s Landing Overlook is a loop road. There is a parking area on the left just before the fork and about 1/3 of the way around the loop, there is a small parking area on the right.
- There are no facilities, restrooms, or trashcans.
- Dogs are allowed at Duncan’s Landing but they must be kept on a 6 foot maximum leash and pet owners must pick up after their pets.
- Learn more about the history of Duncan’s Landing.