Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, California provides families with a very intimate connection to a writer who lived a wild life on the sea and in the snow. Most will recognize these book titles: Call of the Wild and White Fang.
Parks should NEVER close! Writing about parks can be the most inspiring work and make me feel most-desperate, all at the same time. The reason why I felt an urgency to visit Jack London State Historic Park during our 2014 spring break, is because it was one of 70 state parks slated to close in California’s state park system in 2013. Parks should NEVER close! What if we lost this important historic ranch? For every state and national park I visit, I know there is a core group of citizens who protected this for me. For my children. I’m so thankful for all the hard work of those who work to save this place over and over and over again.
Drive a loop to Jack London State Historic Park: Most visitors drive up from the city through Sonoma on Highway 12. We came from the 101 side and did a little loop instead. We took the Rohnert Park Expressway to a left on Petaluma Hill Road. Then we turned right on Crane Canyon Road which turns into Grange Road. At the T-intersection, turn right onto Bennett Valley Road and then bearing right when you get to Warm Springs Road. You’ll hit another T-intersection at Arnold Drive. You’ll turn right on to Arnold Drive and then right again onto London Ranch Road which will lead you into the park. [To leave, you’ll head down the road and turn left on Arnold — but follow it past Warm Springs Road out to Highway 12 where you’ll head south towards Sonoma.)
We arrived very late in the day — 3:30pm — and the park closes its gates at 5:30pm. Not ideal, because we like to take our time. But it was a gorgeous afternoon and there were only a handful of other visitors there. Hoping it would still be open when we returned, we bypassed the House of Happy Walls to see the Wolf House Ruins.
Hike Through Trees to the Grave Site and Ruins
An incredibly touching spot near where the Greenlaw pioneer settlers’ children are buried. My 12 year old son recited his favorite poem. Jack London died at 40 years old.
Looking up, the sky was a brilliant blue above the grave.
Wolf House Ruins
This 15,000 square foot house was just incredible. Made out of lava stone and the ruins are in amongst the redwoods. Ferns are growing out of the walls and fireplaces hang in the air of Jack’s dream house where he never got to live. It burned a month before they were to move in.
House of Happy Walls Museum
- If you have a CA State Parks “California Explorer” Annual Pass it will work here, otherwise you’ll pay an entrance fee of $5-$10.
- Pay attention to the park hours and tour times — they are limited.
- Some of the hike is on a dirt trail, but most is on a wide, paved path. Jogger strollers are probably the best bet or a baby backpack is even better.
- Be aware: There is poison oak at the side of the trail and there are signs warning of rattlesnakes.
- We never made it over to the Beauty Ranch side of the property with London’s Cottage and the Pig Palace.
- Restrooms are in the parking lot.
- Picnic tables near the Wolf House Ruins.