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Exploring Rio Nido

Canopied by redwoods along Sonoma County's Russian River, Rio Nido (pop. 522) packs a lot into a small area where Rio Nido Creek meets the river.

Located between the towns of Forestville and Guerneville, this river hamlet makes a great base for adventures in riverside Sonoma County. Vacation rentals are plentiful here, and many of the homes perch among the redwood trees that cling to the hillsides. Once you set up your headquarters, consult our Guide to the Russian River Resort Area to learn all the opportunities that await you along the river.

But before you head out of town, be sure to explore Rio Nido itself. The town got its start in 1908, when the Eagle Lodge of San Francisco bought the property and named it Eaglenest. The land was divided into parcels in 1910, and renamed "Rionido" --generally thought to be an attempt at saying "river's nest" in Spanish.

The village was a popular recreation destination in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, when the Big Band era was in full swing, and many famous bands played in Rio Nido's dance hall. The town was officially named Rio Nido in 1947. 

Over the years Rio Nido has welcomed vacationers from San Francisco, soldiers and sailors on break from their bases during World War II, and locals from Santa Rosa who sought the cooler weather of the Russian River during the summer months.

Today, at the entrance to town, a refurbished double-wide trailer houses the family- friendly local institution known as the Rio Nido Roadhouse (14540 Canyon Two, Rio Nido, 707-869-0821; see photo). It features American roadhouse-style food (think ribs, burgers, pizza, done with wine-country flair), and a full bar. On weekends, enjoy live music on an outdoor stage, with towering redwood trees providing the feel of a natural theater setting. Patrons can also swim in the nearby public pool.

Steps away from the roadhouse sits the English Tudor-style Rio Nido Lodge (444 Wood Road, 707-604-7641). Built in the 1920s, when Rio Nido was a resort wonderland, the lodge sometimes offered overnight accommodations for performers playing at the local amphitheatre or dance hall. Guests included Bing Crosby, Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Closed for many years, the historic lodge was refurbished and reopened in 2013, with the bedrooms furnished with salvaged and recycled materials, and the old restaurant converted into a cozy dining room.

The town also includes a post office and a fire station. Rio Nido's unofficial slogans are "Memories That Linger" and "The Moon is Always Out in Rio Nido." Explore and enjoy this small but special place.