As we worked our way south along Highway 1, traveling from Bowling Ball Beach near Point Arena to the quaint coastal town of Bodega Bay, we stopped at Fort Ross and explored several gorgeous beaches along the way. This stretch of highway was one of the last parts of the California coast we hadn’t yet driven and it didn’t disappoint.
Driving the rocky, rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest and passing sandy beaches, towering sea stacks, arched rocks, windblown trees, grassy bluffs, and crashing waves is a spectacular experience — and if you like beachcombing or camping, Wright’s Beach needs to be on your list of must-visit spots!
Located half-way between Bodega Bay and the Russian River is Wright’s Beach, the largest sandy beach on this stunning stretch of California Highway 1.
Okay, every website that mentions Wright’s Beach says it’s a sandy beach — and it looks like a sandy beach. But it’s not. It’s a tiny pebble beach. The entire beach, or at least all of it that we walked, is made up of tiny pebbles that mostly massage your feet as you walk across it. I say mostly because at times, it did hurt a bit and I put on my flip flops. So while Wright’s Beach wasn’t as sandy as we had hoped, it did provide excellent treasure hunting and we even found some beautiful agates.
While Natalie and I hunted for treasures, Brian and Carter combed through driftwood, and families were grouped along the beach flying kites and walking along the surf.
Hiking At Wright’s Beach
The 4.0-ish mile Kortum Trail (every bit of documentation about this trail uses different numbers) leaves from Wright’s Beach and continues north past Shell Beach to Blind Beach at Goat Rock.
The easy, mostly flat trail traverses the grassy, coastal bluffs and includes small bridges, wooden boardwalks, and some stairs. It crosses the San Andreas Fault and provides hikers with optional side trips to rocky outcroppings and beautiful beaches.
The Deadliest Beach In California
There is a sign at Wright’s Beach near the restrooms and beach entrance that warns visitors this is one of California’s deadliest beaches.
We knew that the beaches in Sonoma County aren’t swimming beaches but had no idea that more than 120 drownings have happened at this one beach! At Wright’s Beach, the shoreline drops off quickly and when heavy waves break close to shore, the water can pull people under and hold them in the rip tide.
Know Before You Go
- Wright’s Beach, part of Sonoma Coast State Park, is located at 7095 CA Highway 1, Bodega Bay, California 94923 in Sonoma County.
- Download the Sonoma Coast State Park Brochure.
- This beach is not recommended for swimming. Strong rip currents, heavy surf, and sudden ground swells make surf play dangerous.
- There is a day-use picnic area with clean, flush restrooms.
- Wright’s Beach has a campground with 27 ocean-front, developed campsites right on the beach. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and a paved parking spur. Reservations are highly recommended as this beach-front campground is very popular!
- There are no showers, no hook-ups, and no potable water fill station, or dump station at the Wright’s Beach Campground. The nearby Bodega Dunes Campground facilities serve both campgrounds.
- Dogs are allowed on leash in the campground but not allowed on the beach. Dog owners must clean up after their pets.