Happy Wanderer: Timber Cove Resort, Sonoma County coast dazzling

Happy Wanderer: Timber Cove Resort, Sonoma County coast dazzling

Fourteen miles north of Jenner in Sonoma County, there’s a stretch of coast so stunning that Ansel Adams would spend hours on it just sitting on the cliffs above the crashing surf.

The landmark Timber Cove Resort is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and Ansel Adams’ longtime assistant, Mary Alinder, above, shared some of his beloved photographs in a talk she gave at the inn earlier this summer. (Ginny Prior — for Bay Area News Group) 

The beloved photographer was friends with the visionary who built Timber Cove Resort, the iconic lodge perched above the sea as part of the Timber Cove development. The landmark inn is celebrating its 60th anniversary and Adams longtime assistant, Mary Alinder, shared some of his beloved photographs in a talk she gave earlier this summer.

“Ansel came here more than once and would just go sit on the bluff,” she says, adding that the landscape had a place in his soul.

The same soul-stirring scenery draws visitors to the Timber Cove Resort today, with its warm ski lodge-style lobby and picture windows so wide that they bring the dramatic landscape into each ocean-front room.

The history of the lodge is steeped in its architecture. When it was built by owner/architect Richard Clements Jr. in 1963, it served as the hotel for the Timber Cove Master Development. Clements’ A-frame design, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, incorporated redwood and stone as a nod to nature.

A local newspaper at the time noted the structure’s enormous lobby with its “peaked roof supported by huge, bolted rafters.” The design elements were a favorite of Adams and something he used in his own San Francisco home.

“Soaring inner spaces, beamed ceilings and a feeling of being in a clearing in a forest of towering trees … this could also describe the great room of the Timber Cove Lodge,” says Alinder.

The 1963 newspaper article also heralded the lobby bar and dining room with “windows fronting on the sea.” Rimming the lobby were several second-floor guest rooms. Today, Timber Cove Lodge has been carefully renovated and preserved.

The resort’s current owner, Jens Von Gierke has added recreational favorites like foosball and pool, along with a giant chess set on the expansive outdoor patio. He says most guests come just to spend time in this extraordinary place and never veer far from the property.

“It’s very unique in the way that everybody who comes here — they don’t go anywhere else. They want to be just here, enjoying the outside and walking around. I always tell people ‘there’s no agenda.’ ”

One interesting landmark on the property is Timber Cove’s curious obelisk, a sculpture by Clements’ friend and artist Beniamino (Benny) Bufano. Some 93 feet above the cliffs on the tip of Ninive Point, the monument to peace is shaped like a missile and can be seen for miles as you approach the resort.

Related Articles

Travel |

Bay Area day trip: Isleton, the ‘Little Paris of the Delta,’ gears up for its comeback

Travel |

San Jose airport battles to reach pre-COVID heights but passenger activity rises

Travel |

Ask a travel nerd: How can I make solo travel affordable and fun?

Travel |

Mapping California mountains with the most fantastic summit views

Travel |

Campspot’s top camping spots in North America include 6 California sites

The resort is also California’s second smallest state park. Hiking is big in the area, and Von Gierke’s favorite spot is Stillwater Cove Regional Park, a short drive up the coast.

“It’s the closest you can get to being in the middle of the redwoods,” he says.

Trail maps at the entrance help enhance this moderate hike, which traverses Stockhoff Creek in a towering redwood forest, then crosses Pacific Coast Highway to an ocean cove. Salt Point State Park is another hiker’s paradise — with a diverse landscape that includes everything from wildflower meadows to thundering surf. The 6,000-acre gem includes one of California’s first underwater parks, along with lots of kelp-kissed coves, prairies and even a pygmy forest.

A lodge that Ansel Adams loved on a quiet stretch of coast punctuated by the thundering surf — these are the things that draw visitors to Timber Cove Resort. It’s been a place of solitude and inspiration for many, and little has changed in six decades.

Ginny Prior can be followed on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at ginnyprior.com. Email her at ginnyprior@hotmail.com.


Timber Cove Resort sits on 25 acres of Sonoma County’s coast and offers 46 guest rooms, including eight suites. A favorite for weddings, the resort boasts the Coast Kitchen restaurant with dramatic ocean views and has a redesigned banquet and meetings area, along with more than two miles of hiking trails.

For more on the 60th anniversary and the resort’s “Escape + Recharge” package, visit timbercoveresort.com online.