A family enjoying the Russian River
Canoeing on the Russian River

Guide to the Russian River Valley

No matter the time of year or the level of water in the river, there's always plenty to do and see along the Russian River in Northern California. 

Share this story

For more than 130 years, travelers have come to the Russian River area in Sonoma County to swim, paddle, hike, wine, dine, or simply relax and enjoy all the delights of this lovely waterway. As the Russian River winds its way through the lush Wine Country in Northern California, it creates a special corridor of gently moving water, riverside greenery, and the unique towns large and small that line its banks.

This guide follows the lazily meandering river from Cloverdale in northeast Sonoma County, heading southwest through the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys, to where the Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean on the coast. 

However you choose to explore the Red River Valley, we ask all Sonoma County visitors to check out our page on Sustainable Travel, and look over the Leave No Trace Seven Principles before making the trek. Together, we can protect and preserve the beauty and natural resources of Sonoma County for generations to come.

Follow Our Russian River Valley Itinerary

We split up our Russian River Valley itinerary into three sections: North, Redwoods and Coast. Drive each section by itself, or combine them all into a multi-day excursion through one of Northern California's most incredible landscapes.

Russian River Valley: North

Follow the Russian River as it winds through northern Sonoma County on its way from Cloverdale, through Geyserville and down to Healdsburg. Stops along the way include sculpture gardens, winery tasting rooms, Michelin-starred restaurants, and more. 

Explore the Russian River Valley North Itinerary

Russian River Valley: Redwoods

Follow the Russian River as it ventures through California redwood forests. This leg of the itinerary weaves through charming towns like Windsor, Forestville, Guerneville and Monte Rio, with plenty of options for family-friendly fun—like canoeing, swimming, tubing—and, for those who prefer land-based recreation, hiking in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Explore the Russian River Valley Redwoods Itinerary

Russian River Valley: Coast

Continue west on your adventure to the point where the Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean. Cruise on majestic cliffs towering over the waves and explore the tiny coastal towns of Duncans Mills and Jenner. Watch for wildlife (like whales and seals), dine on the fresh Sonoma County seafood, and take scenic strolls on the beach.

Explore the Russian River Valley Coast Itinerary

Create Your Own Itinerary

Not quite what you were looking for? You can easily craft your own plan to explore this lovely waterway and its many resort towns using our trip-planning app.

If wine is your passion, learn more about the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek and Russian River wine regions. Or, explore the best river beaches and fishing spots. No matter the season, the Russian River area offers an almost endless supply of things to do and see.

To find places to dine and stay that are perfect for you, look through our list of Rivers & Redwoods Restaurants and Lodging. 

A family with inner tubes at the Russian River