A visit to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park allows hikers to make a trip back in time. The park is a still-forested hill nestled among... more » several of the famous valley's wineries. It stands as a reminder of the natural flora and fauna of the area before much of it was cleared to create vineyards. Though the trees and other plants have been largely removed from the land used as vineyards, the soils and microclimates that have drawn grape growers for over 100 years remain.
The park is also teeming with plants used by Native Americans in the region, who were likely the first people to use the Valley's bounties to make intoxicating concoctions.
Most of the park is rugged, with elevations ranging from 300 to 2,000 feet. You will notice a pattern in the vegetation: the forests are on the north-facing slopes and in canyons, while south-facing slopes tend to be brushy; redwoods grow only near creeks or springs.
Plant life hides much of the park’s geology, which is principally volcanic, but you can see a reminder of the area’s violent geologic past in the volcanic ash cliffs of upper Ritchey Canyon.
The park is home to raccoons, gray squirrels, deer, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes to name a few, but they are sometimes difficult to spot because of their nocturnal habits and the heavy forest cover.
Several species of birds can be easily detected though, including the six kinds of woodpecker that inhabit the park. The spectacular crow-sized pileated woodpecker is one of them. On a more rare occasion a spotted owl can be found, perched high in a redwood tree.
Located by the entrance to the park is the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center and entrance station are open intermittently when staffing is available. Brochures (hiking maps) are also available by mail.
Next to the park’s visitor center is the Native American Garden which displays some of the plants important to the first people of this area. Today, many of the same plants are used by the Wappo people.
This Exploration created in collaboration with the Exploratorium