FAIRFIELD — Solano County is among the most geographically diverse of California’s 58 counties.
Vallejo, in the southern corner of the county, sits along San Pablo Bay and has the graceful Carquinez suspension bridge to take Interstate 80 motorists over the Carquinez Strait. Here, summer skies are often gray in the morning from the high fog that streams through the Golden Gate on the opposite end of the bay.
Benicia’s views are also dominated by water. The city sits along the Carquinez Strait and Southhampton Bay. Solano County is considered part of the Bay Area and Vallejo/Benicia area shows why.
In the northernmost county near Dixon, the Bay Area seems a world away. The is flat Central Valley land dominated by agriculture. Summer temperatures often soar into triple digits and winter brings a type of fog called the tule fog. There’s no major waterways to be seen, though there are canals that bring irrigation water to farms.
Eastern Solano County is Delta country. Here, near the small city of Rio Vista, the Sacramento River and a network of sloughs are a watery highway for boats. Summer temperatures are hot here, unlike those in Vallejo. The Real McCoy II ferry takes travelers on Highway 84 over Cache Slough to Ryer Island, a farming community behind levees.
The western county has oak-studded hills and valleys, in places presenting an appearance similar to the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma counties. Not coincidentally, this is Solano County’s own wine country, with acres of vineyards and several wineries in Suisun Valley.
The central county near Fairfield and Suisun City is a land of transition between the Delta and the bays. Among its features are Suisun Marsh, the largest contiguous estuarine marsh in the United States. Duck clubs dominate this land of tules and wetlands. State preserves feature such sights as tule elk.
Solano County retains a rural feel. A voter-passed law funnels most growth into the county’s seven cities. Fairfield has established open space buffers between it and Vacaville to the north and Benicia and Vallejo to the south.
That leaves agriculture as the main land use in rural Solano County. Farmers grow everything from tomatoes to peaches to sunflower to alfalfa. Ranchers have sheep, cows and other animals. Crops in 2012 had a record value of $342 million, according to the county’s crop report.
The county’s rural areas also provide places for recreation. People can boat and fish in local sloughs, hunt in Suisun Marsh and hike in Lynch Canyon, Rockville Hills and Lagoon Valley parks. They can camp along Putah Creek at Lake Solano park and along the Sacramento River at Sandy Beach park.
Solano County can also boast of being one of California’s original counties, established in 1850 along with the state.
For information: www.co.solano.ca.us