Wildlife Viewing Areas
 Search the U.S.
Find an AnimalFind a Viewing AreaPlan a TripAboutContact


Purchase the California wildlife viewing guide
California Department of Fish & Game

California State Parks

California Travel & Tourism Commission

Lake Sonoma Don Clausen Fish Hatchery and Fish Ladder
Description: The Don Clausen Fish Hatchery’s primary purpose is to mitigate the loss of spawning habitat for Steelhead Trout and salmon due to the construction of Warm Springs Dam. Each year the hatchery produces 500,000 Steelhead and is the core of an intensive recovery effort for Federally Endangered Coho Salmon in the Russian River watershed. Just behind the hatchery is a fish ladder that allows the fish to climb 37 feet in elevation from Dry Creek to the hatchery. Visitors can observe these magnificent fish as they make their way up a series of pools or as they rest in a stretch of creek between the ladder and the hatchery. The public is also welcome to observe hatchery operations from the second floor viewing area. Connected to the hatchery is the Lake Sonoma Milt Brandt Visitor Center which conducts school group and public tours of the hatchery and ladder from January through April of each year.

Wildlife to Watch: Almost all of the fish utilizing the ladder during the spawning run are Steelhead Trout, although a very small number of Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon also enter the hatchery via the fish ladder. Steelhead Trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) are listed as a federally threatened species. Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are listed as federally threatened. Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) are a federally endangered species.

Special Tips: 

Ownership: US Army Corps of Engineers 
Size: Unknown 
Closest Town: Cloverdale, CA

RestroomsPicnic tables

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Photo by USACOE
Please use the Map Link below.

Driving Directions:
From CA Highway 101 at Healdsburg, take the Dry Creek Road exit. Turn to the west and follow Dry Creek Road 11 miles, where it enters Lake Sonoma and becomes Skagg Springs Road. The Visitor Center is to the right just as you enter the park- 3288 Skagg Springs Road, Geyserville CA.

Map Link

Lake Sonoma Don Clausen Fish Hatchery and Fish Ladder : Wildlife Viewing Area