Salt Point State Park is a state park of California, United States, on the Pacific Ocean. The park consists of two main parcels; one contains the southernmost portion of Black’s Beach and extends up to the headlands where the Pacific meets the Sacramento River Delta, while the other parcel includes the northern half of Black’s beach and continues inland past Highway 1 to terminate at Shasta State Forest. The entire park was declared a Marine Protected Area in 1997.
Salt Point State Park has long been used for its black sand beaches, which are formed by volcanic activity and contain high levels of iron particles. A boardwalk trail connects the parking lot with Black’s Beach, allowing disabled access to the shoreline without increasing risk of exposure to traffic. The park also features interpretive panels describing the natural and cultural history of the site as well as whale skeletons suspended from the ceiling of the Interpretive Center.
The park has many trails leading away from the beach including ones that lead through forests, wetlands and across prairie land. One such path leads north to Fort Tejon Pass, which separates the coastal range from the interior of the Peninsular Ranges. Another path leads west across the mouth of the Sacramento River to Shasta State Forest. There are paths that circle the perimeter of Black’s Beach as well as paths within the forested uplands above. Paths are maintained in a loop around the perimeter of the campground so that no matter which way you’re coming from, your path will cross those of others heading in different directions. Because of this, even though there are numerous entrances, exits, and turnouts, the overall flow of people through the park is fairly steady.
Evenings bring large groups of young adults together to socialize around the campfire, often joined by their dogs. Camping overnight in tents is permitted only in the south end of the park (specifically the area known as ‘Camp David’ consisting of about 10 campsites). Overnight accommodations are not available in the north section of the park. No pets are allowed inside the park. Although swimming in the ocean is very common, bathing because of the possibility of sea lions or sharks is not recommended. Instead, surf fishing is encouraged. Accessibility for the disabled was assessed by WestEd staff members visiting the park in 2008.
Based upon observations made during the assessment, some locations were found to have issues with accessibility. These included the restrooms located outside the campgrounds, which had an inaccessible ramp, and a pier near the headlands that lacked any accessible routes. Other concerns related to safety, particularly regarding pedestrians crossing the highway under the freeway bridge, were noted.
As a result, all public access to the park was banned until further notice. However, after receiving a report that a group of youth soccer players were being bullied by older kids at recess, school district officials arranged for special permits for these students to enter the park to practice safe sports skills, accompanied by a chaperone. Upon entering the park, the permit holders encountered a fence blocked off area containing sharp dropoffs and patches of poison oak, prompting them to retreat back to school. Despite the ban, hundreds of children continue to illegally enter the park every day to play on the fields, swim in the ocean, and explore the Headlands Trail to Shasta State Forest. To ensure public safety, patrol vehicles are stationed throughout the park 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In 1970, during the height of the Vietnam War, anti-war protesters occupied the park for several months. Their actions led to the creation of a memorial honoring veterans who served in the war, designed by local artist Joe Bautista. The statue was dedicated on May 29, 1973, by former U.S. Senator John J. McFall and unveiled by former First Lady Nancy Reagan. The statue was removed in 1977 when the park was closed due to budget cuts but was later reassembled for the 2010 season to mark the 40th anniversary of Reagan’s visit.
On February 2, 2011, the statue was damaged by vandals who spray painted “Die Fags” on its face. After being cleaned, it was repaired in time for the 70th anniversary celebration of Reagan’s 1981 trip to the White House. It stands guard over what may be the most popular spot along the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles – especially since the opening of the Santa Monica Promenade. This stretch of coastline boasts miles of soft white sandy beaches, backed by steep bluffs that offer views onto the rocky landscape beyond. At low tide, visitors can walk out into the wetland areas behind the point, where they can find themselves surrounded by more than 100 species of birds.
The area offers: