Visitor Information

Thank you for your interest in the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.

No drop-ins, please. To maintain our retreat center atmosphere, OAEC is not open for drop-in visitors unless for business purposes, such as paying for a course or event registration.

Public events: Join us for a tourperformancevolunteer dayPlant Sale or Perennials Weekend at our Nursery, or other public events. You can also register or apply for one of our residential courses and trainings.

Residential participant information below.


OAEC office

OAEC Office:  (707) 874 – 1557 x 101

Residential Participants:

What to expect when coming for courses, trainings or retreats.

Housing & Accommodations During Your Stay

Toiletries: To protect our greywater reuse systems, we ask that you only use the biodegradable shampoo, conditioner and soap that we provide in our guest bathrooms and community bathhouse, and leave other products at home.

Sleeping: Your sleeping accommodations will be in our two yurts or guest houses, or you are welcome to camp. We provide bedding (clean sheets, pillows, and blankets). Courses sometimes have more participants than we can accommodate in indoor housing. As indoor lodging is given on a first-come, first-served basis, those signing up later for the course may only have tent-camping open to them as an option.

Camping: Please let us know in advance if you plan to camp. Campers need to bring their own tent and sleeping bag.

Showers: You may shower in our guest housing bathrooms or the community bathhouse (private showers). Please bring your own towel.

Wildlife: There are lots of raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes, and wood rats around the buildings at night. Please do not leave any food in the yurts or outside the guest housing. Keep the doors closed to all buildings.


OAEC yurt

OAEC’s guest yurts are flanked by new guest housing units.


Clothes & Personal Items

Please bring the following:

  • Work clothes, a flashlight, a water bottle, a towel, sturdy shoes or boots for walks on the land, a bathing suit, and slippers (we remove shoes while inside buildings here).
  • The weather is variable during all seasons, so consider dressing in layers and bringing weather-appropriate gear (rain jacket, rain boots, umbrella, a sun hat, sunscreen).

The Garden & Backcountry

The Center has many beautiful areas for strolling, hiking, and quiet meditation, including our gardens and 70 acres of wildlands in the backcountry. However, please stay on the paths, and refrain from picking anything, since many of the plants in the garden are being propagated for seed.

When exploring our wildlands, pack out all trash and do not disturb the wildlife. When hiking outside of the Core Area, watch for poison oak – there is a lot of it around! If you’re not sure what it looks like, ask a staff person.

Latch the Fence: The Core Area of the Center (about 10 of the 80 acres) is surrounded by a deer fence. There are several gates that you may pass through on foot. Please be sure that the deer fence gates are closed and latched at all times.

Ticks: Be aware of ticks in spring, summer, and fall (May through July is peak tick season). There are several kinds of ticks in our area. Lyme disease can be transmitted by the Western Black Legged Tick. Check your skin and clothes after walking in tall grass or wooded areas. More information is available in the Center office.


Camping at OAEC

Meals at the Center

Our professional chefs prepare delicious, plentiful vegetarian meals for our guests using fresh, organic produce from our gardens.

Special Diets: Please let us know if you have any special dietary needs at least 2 weeks in advance of your arrival. We are not an allergen-free kitchen, though we do our best to accommodate those with special diets. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to satisfy every request.

Meal times: Meals are generally served at the following times – breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 12:30, dinner at 6:30. Please see your course or retreat schedule for exact times. For lunch and dinner, a bell rings 2 times 15 minutes before the meal is served, and 3 times when the meal is ready.

Drinks: We do not serve alcohol with our meals, but you are welcome to bring it. Beer and wine can be purchased at the local markets in Occidental. We provide tea and coffee in the meeting room kitchenette. Feel free to bring extra drinks and snacks.


Outside OAEC kitchen


More Information

Hot Tub Use: You can use the hot tub (part of the community bathhouse/sauna area) anytime. Please shower before getting in the tub!

Sauna Use: If you have a group of folks who want to take an evening sauna, please tell the instructor or a staff person before dinner so we can stoke it up (it takes about an hour to prepare).

Pond Use: We have a beautiful backcountry pond. Swim at your own risk.

Shoes Off: Please take your shoes off before going into the kitchen, dining room, meeting room, yurt dorms, or office.

Fragrances: Please do not wear colognes or perfumes during your stay.

Pets: No pets please! Because of the sensitive environment, diverse wildlife and native poison oak, we have a no-pet policy. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we accommodate leashed dogs who meet the ADA definition of a service dog. Please let our office know in advance of your visit, so that we can make accommodations.

Special Needs: Located on 80 unpaved, undulating acres in west Sonoma County, OAEC is committed to accommodating guests who have disabilities.  If you have any special needs that might require assistance, please let our office know in advance of your visit.

Restricted Areas: There are many private residences at the Center. Please do not venture into these buildings or surrounding areas unescorted:

  • Posted private residential areas
  • The barn, wood shed, and tool storage areas
  • Backcountry cabins

Parking: Guests may off-load gear and passengers in the lower parking lot, but we ask that you park in the upper parking lot for the rest of the stay (unless your stay is 3 hours or less).

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property except at the picnic table across the road from the barn. We are very serious about this due to fire danger. Please properly dispose of your extinguished butts.

Telephone Use: The phone in the meeting room can be used to call anywhere in the U.S. Cell Phone use is discouraged to preserve the rural retreat ambience.  You may use cell phones on the meeting room deck, in the meeting room (not during class), and in the upper parking lot.  Please turn off phones when not in use.

Contact Number: you can leave your course coordinator’s or point person’s OAEC phone extension for your family for emergencies.  The coordinator will check for messages once or twice a day.

In Case of Emergency: Use the phone in the meeting room – hit “9” to get an outside line. If there is a fire or if you are alone and need help, ring the dinner gong hanging from the oak in front of the kitchen repeatedly until someone comes to help (the bell can be heard all over the property).

Quiet Hours: After 10:00 pm, please do not drum anywhere, or make music or loud noise in the yurts or guest rooms. Acoustic music is OK in the meeting room and dining room after 10:00 pm.

Meeting Room Kitchenette: You can make tea or coffee here. Please clean up after yourself.

Dish Migration: You wouldn’t believe where glasses and dishes end up during a large workshop here! If you take something out of a building, bring it back to that building.

Library: The meeting room has lots of books – these are the private books of the residents. Feel free to read them, as long as you return them to where you found them.

The Basics


Shoes at OAEC

All visitors should know:

Wear sturdy shoes.

The land is hilly and there are no paved paths.

Park in the Upper Parking Lot.

From the town of Occidental, the Upper Lot is the second OAEC driveway on your right. Use the first driveway to the Core Area only when dropping off passengers and luggage.

No dogs or other pets.

If you bring a dog, please keep it in your car.


Questions? Call the OAEC Office at  (707) 874 – 1557 x 101