Russian River Kayaking: What You Should Know

When the Sonoma sun is shining bright, what better way to beat the heat and enjoy the great outdoors than with a Russian River kayaking adventure? This winding river will take you past several wineries and picturesque forests with majestic California redwoods. It is recognized for dynamic terrain, unspoiled wilderness, and the scenic views of the countryside — making it the perfect place to get out on the water for nature lovers who are visiting the area!

Even if you don’t identify as a nature enthusiast, you’ll find something on the river that’s a welcomed addition to your Wine Country getaway! Aside from kayaking, there are many other water activities to enjoy — like canoeing, paddle boarding, floating, fishing, and more. For the adventurous, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find rope swings and naturally formed rocks to discover. Some of the local kayaking companies even offer stand-up paddleboarding classes too!

Keep scrolling to read through our mini-guide on what you can expect from a Russian River kayaking adventure. And, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’d be happy to guide you through the specifics and help you plan your dream paddle.


What You’ll See

To start with, the Russian River stretches approximately 110 miles, extending all the way from Redwood and Potter Valleys to the Sonoma Coast near the town of Jenner! One of the most popular areas starts around where we’re located in Healdsburg and goes all the way to the Pacific Ocean, where the river and sea meet.

What you'll see while kayaking on the Russian River in California

As for wildlife, there will be countless opportunities to see native California flora and fauna that live in this region! Keep your eyes peeled for deer, bobcats, and even red foxes. Look for hawks and great blue herons in the river habitat. You may catch a glimpse of Western pond turtles, identified by their dark-patterned shells and mottled heads. Don’t forget to look down in the water and find endangered Coho salmon swimming alongside rare river otters.


When to Go

Visitors often explore the Russian River during the summer months when you’ll encounter beautiful blue skies and sunshine. The river around the Healdsburg area tends to be very shallow during this time of year and is not very wide, almost like a sandbar river. Granted, there is a mixture between depths with deeper swimming holes over 10 feet as well. Some areas of the Russian River are excellent for whitewater rafting, but you’ll have to travel a couple of hours away for this experience. 

Storms in the winter months can create strong winds and swell the river; therefore, June through September is the perfect window for your kayaking trip. However, despite the cold weather, Sonoma County offers tons of other outdoor activities that you can enjoy just as much. Check out one of our recent posts for more information about the best time to visit Sonoma County and Napa Valley


What to Bring

Like with anything, proper planning will enhance your experience no matter what water activities you choose! Here are a few things to consider before you start planning your trip:

Keep in mind that you will have limited space to keep any gear you would like to bring with you. And, you’ll need to ensure you have enough tie-downs to keep what you want to take attached to the boat.

Healdsburg Russian River Kayaking

Kayaking essentials include swimming gear, dry bags, sunscreen, plenty of water, and clothes to change into when you get back to land. For those who enjoy watching the wildlife, binoculars are highly recommended. Want to know more? View our kayaking tips for first-time paddlers!

Some tours include stops along the way for a quick bite to eat, while others suggest bringing snacks and lunch with you. Check your tour details before you leave to make sure you know which you’ll need to plan for. Or, have us coordinate a private kayaking excursion around what you prefer!   


Russian River Kayak Rentals

Numerous companies offer kayak rentals off of the Russian River in Healdsburg near our vacation rental homes! You’ll find kayak and canoe rentals for self-guided adventures along with scenic tours with a trained guide. Check out these companies for more information:

Getaway Adventures

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure in Sonoma County or Napa Valley, this is the company to check out! They offer both professional guided tours and self-guided tours with single or double kayaks. Lunch options are available, from buffet style for private tours and individual boxed lunches for all other types of tours. And, for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the beautiful nature of Wine Country, we recommend their bike and paddle combo tours. Visit Getaway Adventures website.

River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

Choose your preference between a single kayak, double kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard! Their self-guided trip takes you down a 5 mile stretch of the river that starts north of Healdsburg and lasts between 3 and 6 hours. Visit River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips website.

Russian River Adventures

Offering inflatable canoes for self-guided exploration from Memorial Beach to Wohler Bridge. This stretch is approximately 9 miles. Actual paddle time is typically around 3 hours, and most people usually take between 4 and 6 hours to complete the trip. Visit Russian River Adventures website.


Map of the Russian River

Map of the Russian River in California - Google Maps


Ready to Visit and Explore Wine Country?

Check kayaking the Russian River off your bucket list along with epic adventures of hot air ballooning and guided bike tours with The Wine Stay! We’re here to help you choose the perfect vacation home and elevate your Wine Country experience with luxurious amenities you won’t find anywhere else. Browse through our vacation rentals throughout Sonoma County and Napa Valley, or contact us to get more information about how we can assist you in planning your next stay!