Guide to Jack London State Historic Park06/26/22
Explore the former home and ranch of influential American novelist, Jack London, at this sprawling, 1,400-acre park on the eastern slope of Sonoma Mountain in Northern California.
Located just over an hour drive from Pleasant Hill, near Santa Rosa, the Jack London State Historic Park is the site of genre-defining American author Jack London’s former home, including his historic cottage residence and innovative farm, the Beauty Ranch. At the park, you can also visit London’s grave, the remains of the Wolf House — which was destroyed in a tragic fire — explore a network of trails, visit the lake, relax with a picnic and more.
The park is just one of many day trip-worthy destinations located within driving distance of Pleasant Hill, with other top attractions and outdoor spaces including Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Diablo State Park. Our hotels and restaurants serve as the perfect base camp for any Northern California adventure.
Who Was Jack London?
Jack London was an American novelist, whose innovative works helped pave the way for the genre of science fiction. He was also a war correspondent, a social activist and workers’ unionization advocate, an avid farmer, and an intrepid adventurer and sailor. He was one of the first American authors to become an international celebrity. The Jack London Historic State Park is a celebration of his life and contributions to society.
London's most famous novels were "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang," both set in the Klondike during the gold rush.
Visitors can pay homage to Jack London and get a glimpse into his life by visiting his cherished cottage home, which he shared with his wife, Charmian. Here, visitors can see the vestiges of Jack and Charmian’s bohemian lifestyle and prolific collaboration, in which Jack wrote 1,000 words per day and Charmian edited and typed manuscripts and letters. The Cottage and Stone Dining Room are open from noon to 4 pm, Saturdays and Sundays only.
The Beauty Ranch
At his ranch, Jack London experimented with farming methods and more humane ways to deal with livestock, becoming a very successful pioneering farmer. Visitors can view the following sites that were part of his agricultural enterprise:
- The Pig Palace: This was a livestock innovation that allowed one person to efficiently tend to over 200 hogs. His neighbors laughed at the invention but it ended up winning awards and became known around the country.
- The Silos: These 40-ft tall silos are adjacent to what was the dairy operation and the Pig Palace.
- The Barns: Several buildings are visible, including the Sherry Barn (originally built for the Kohler and Frohling winery), the Stallion Barn, and the Distillery, in which visitors can view horse-drawn farm equipment that was used in London’s time.
The House of Happy Walls
This Arts-and-Crafts-style house contains a small museum that was established by Jack’s wife, Charmian London, and his stepsister, Eliza Shepard, The museum showcases the adventurous lives of Jack and Charmian London. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day except Christmas.
On the weekends, beautiful music resounds through the rooms of the museum, as Piano Club volunteers tickle the keys of Charmian’s Steinway grand piano.
Lake & Dam
Jack built a dam on the slope of Sonoma Mountain, creating a lake at the headwaters of Kohler Creek to serve as a reservoir for his agricultural projects at Beauty Ranch. The beautiful 4-acre lake became a popular spot for recreational activities such as boating and swimming and was the subject of the first water-rights trial in California in the early 1910s.
During the Depression, Beauty Ranch was converted into a guest ranch, offering boating, swimming, fishing, and picnics at the lake.
Hiking & Walking Trails
Visitors can walk to a dam, lake, and the bathhouse constructed by London. There are also trails through fir and oak woodlands with nice views of the Valley of the Moon. Bicycling and horseback riding are permitted on some trails. Please note that dogs on leash are allowed in the historic area but not past the silos, in the museum, or on backcountry trails.
Visitors are welcome to use the small picnic area in the park. Get your supplies at the nearby Glen Ellen Village Market beforehand.
Location, Hours & Admission
- The historic park is at 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen, which is a 20-minute drive north of Sonoma.
- Park operating hours vary seasonally, and each site at the park has its own hours. Please check for more information here.
- The park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle, and annual passes are available. Admission to the Happy Walls museum is included in the entrance fee, and admission to London’s Cottage is $3 per person, free for those 12 and under.
- An annual pass is available to purchase online for $49, granting pass holders unlimited access to the historic park for a year, private vehicle entry to the House and Museum, as well as entrance to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
In the nearby hamlet of Glen Ellen, visitors can find an impressive assortment of cafes, wine bars, restaurants and charming inns. Activities include winery visits, horseback riding, and botanical garden visits. After a busy day touring the park, you can even treat yourself to a Magical Massage with aromatherapy-infused hot towel treatments.