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thank you for your patience while we construct this site to replace our very old one whose site platform is being retired.
Russian River Estuary
Lake like tidal salt water in between rainy periods.
Birds, Seal Pups, Whale, Wildlife In Plenty.
Whale Watch Map
Stay back 50 yards from the river mouth "Wildlife Resting Area" . They are protected and "Point of No Return" currents flush into the Pacific Ocean.
Be generous. If you feel a current, you're too close.
December into January:
Warm moderate periods remain throughout the year. Calm periods in between some breezy or rainy events. Our rainiest time of year is often January into March. Drought climate has increased periods of nonseasonal heat.
Weather / Water Forecast
River mouth perched. Slow currents below 8 ft in Guerneville, especially with incoming tide.
Currents present upstream and here after each rain.
12/18/2021: We will reopen rentals when temps are above 54 degrees for most of the day and when river currents calm. River current hazards, for novice paddlers, remain as rain picks up again Mon and again on Thur. Expect periodic rain and wind with cold daytime temps possibly into the beginning of January. We are thankful for the rain and will open again soon.
Forecasts can change: Links to the same apps and sites we use are listed on this page.
New Website Build In Progress
Safety Information and Links
Limitation on Rentals:
Coastal and Wind influences: Kayakers may be required to show certification of prior kayak instruction or demonstrate skills prior to renting a closed deck kayak during windy or moving water conditions. Tours Are A Good Option. Skills Courses Are Available. Discount on first kayak rental after taking our beginning certified kayak skills and self rescue course. Sit on top kayaks are available.
No recreational activity is inherently safe...
Being aware of local wind, rain, temperature and water conditions, as well as the behavior of local wildlife, can make the difference between enjoying a wonderful time in nature or risking rescue or injury.
We provide links to learn about our local wildlife and to confirm local river, ocean, and weather conditions and projections.
It's well known that outdoor conditions can change for a variety of reasons. Therefore, Watertreks is not responsible for weather or wildlife or changes that may occur. However, we do try our best to inform you of what the projections are in our area.
Please. Listen to our safety reviews, respect nature and put your safety first so we all can truly enjoy nature and the wildlife. (An in depth explanation of local hazards is at the bottom of this page.)
Limitations Per Weather and Water Conditions:
We will not allow stacking challenging conditions for experienced paddlers. This means folks that may enjoy a little rain, some river currents, or some pushy wind conditions still will not be able to rent or tour if more than one condition is in the forecast. A full list of our limitations, and when we close for all activities, can be found here.
Maps: The main river mouth formations and the two hour island loop. These are trends not a predictor of how it really looks. "Know before you go" and drive to the " River Mouth Vista Pullout" just past River's End Restaurant in Jenner, for the best land based view of ocean and river mouth conditions.
Common Summer / Fall Formation:
River Mouth Hazards / Protected Sea Bird and Harbor Seal Resting Area
Please use our links for weather and water updates.
WaterTalk Bulletin Board: Share your experience.
Water Updates / Paddle Partners / Buy / Sell / Trade
The Most Common Links We use:
And the more technical, USGS Source with more options for historic time periods.
Full tidal fluctuations are obvious: River mouth is open and deep.
Reduced low tides: River mouth is shallow and perched
River level rising only: River mouth is closed. Water levels rising with lake like conditions forming up to 15 miles upstream possibly to Guerneville. More commonly to above Monte Rio or up to the Summer dam at Vacation Beach, if it is in place. Always expect river currents just below Summer dams. Avoid getting stuck in hazardous sucking currents that form at dams. Portage and land your watercraft upstream to put it back in below the dam instead.
Weather, Wind & Tides:
Forecasts may conflict. Checking up to three forecasts can be helpful.
Regional 10 Day Forecasts and Our Microclimate 3 Day Hourly Superforecast
Wind Direction: Greatly influences how much wind we feel in the estuary. What we feel can be less or more windy than upstream sections of the Russian River. Please see our interpretation of three recent forecast models on the left hand column of this page.
Wind and Weather: Better for hourly rain, temperature and lightning but "not" a micro-climate forecast for wind.
NOAA: National Weather Service
Windy: Fun graphics and you can get technical on the go with the app.
But we keep Windfinder as this one does not give hour by hour forecasts.
River Level and Flood Forecasts:
River Height / Flow And Dam Flows: CDC Russian River
Annual Tide Predictions: California Coast
Fort Ross & Bodega Bay Tides Are Located Near The Bottom Of The Page. Includes Rise & Set for both Sun and Moon. Select a location and then the dates desired and timespan.
Other Great Links:
Weather & Water: Forecast Links
Surf Report: Please contact us if you have a great local link to share!
Local Information: Wildlife, Recreation and Common Conditions.
Sonoma Coast State Park
Greater Farallone's National Marine Sanctuary
Marine Protected Area
State Marine Conservation Area
State Marine Recreation Management Area
There is a national spotlight on this area concerning research, and habitat and wildlife recovery and protection.
Restricted Harbor Seal and Sea Bird Resting Area
Whether the river mouth is open, closed, or perched, coming within 150 feet or 50 yards and disturbing "any" of their natural behavior can result in a fine up to $10,000. For your convienience, in our main tourism months that area is roped off on land. The two water edge natural markers are the huge log jammed up on the old jetty and the large estuary survey marker rock. This restricted area also protects you from entering river mouth currents. Note: Entering river mouth currents can result in being flushed into the Pacific Ocean with potentially deadly consequences.
Tides In The Russian River Estuary At Jenner:
Tides can be up to 30 minutes later than other nearby forecasts.
They Are Influenced By River Mouth Formation!
River mouth closed: Lake like conditions possibly upstream to above Monte Rio in the Summer (10 miles), or even up to Guerneville (15 miles) in the winter when there are no Summer dams. Lower Russian River levels are influenced much more by river mouth closures than by tidal influence: River mouth closures can commonly raise water levels upstream in Monte Rio or even a couple of inches up to the Summer Vacation Beach Dam in Summer months.
Who Closes The River Mouth?: Nature!
Seasonal wind and wave direction and high waves force large amounts of sand onto Goat Rock Beach which closes the river mouth.
River Mouth Breaching by Sonoma County Water Agency: Requires a permit and is only initiated to prevent flooding in Jenner. However, this requires a sand buildup around the cement river mouth jetty for the dredger to be able to cross to initiate the process. If there is no sand bridge across the Jetty, then dredging is not possible. Also, high waves can threaten to suck the dredger and it's operator into the ocean. If either condition is present, then the river mouth will be allowed to rise into the natural flood plain and breaching will be left to nature. In December of 2015, a severe river mouth blockage rose river levels as far upstream as Guerneville. Although there was no serious flooding upstream, the river rise did flood the Jenner Visitor Center, low lying portions of river front homes, and covered half of highway one in the lowest sections of Jenner. Do not attempt to breach the river mouth yourself as you can be arrested.
Mouth Narrow / Shallow: Less tidal influence. Less extreme low tides. The estuary becomes similar to a bowl with a pour over lip. High tides can wash in over the lower river mouth lip and higher levels of estuary water can spill over the lip. But at lower tides the river water is held back in the bowl rather than fully dropping with the tide. This formation is commonly considered to be Perched. There can still be dangerous currents at the narrow river mouth.
Mouth Wide Heavy Current: Caution! Currents May Be Too Swift To Paddle Back Upstream! The Ocean Waters Off Goat Rock Beach Can Be Some Of The Deadliest Waters In California. Rich in wildlife and great to visit, but Not For Swimming or Wading in the Surf! There is a point of No Return in any river current. Private Paddlers have been swept out the river mouth with deadly consequences. Always Avoid The River Mouth! On outgoing tides there is increased risk of being swept out to sea!
Playing in the waters on the riverside at Goat Rock Beach can be more family friendly, if there is little current, but be aware that the water is not as warm as it is upstream and stay out of any river mouth currents!
Seasonal Conditions Vary:
Plenty of water year around from Monte Rio to Jenner.