Safety Tips for Outdoor Water Activities in Sonoma County

There is plenty of family fun to be had at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa

Swimming in the Russian River and playing along the stunning Pacific Coast beaches are fun summer activities in Sonoma County for the whole family. And Sonoma County’s lakes and lagoons offer great places to relax by the water.

But before you head to the beach or spend a day at “the River” be sure you are ready for a safe day of relaxing in the wild areas of Sonoma County. 

Play it safe by reviewing these water safety tips – please check the resources linked for other tips. As always, please use common sense and exercise caution.

Together, we can protect and preserve the beauty and natural resources of Sonoma County for generations to come. Check out our page on Sustainable Travel, and look over the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

Two guys on kayaks in the Russian River.
Russian River

Beaches with Lifeguards on Duty:

Sonoma County Regional Parks operates two lifeguarded beaches, the swimming lagoon at Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa and Veterans Memorial Beach in Healdsburg. The Spring Lake lagoon is open seven days a week from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Memorial Beach offers lifeguarded swimming from late June through Labor Day weekend.

Important Safety Tips and Resources:

  • Playing it Safe on the Russian River: “Summer on the Russian River” … It’s an iconic Sonoma County experience, and each year thousands of residents and visitors look forward to swimming, paddling, and tubing on this beautiful warm-weather playground. However, playing in the river is not without risk. Yes, the water looks calm and inviting on a hot summer day, but there are unseen hazards beneath the surface, including sudden drop offs, changing currents, snags and boulders. So at the risk of sounding like your mom, we ask you to please be safe out there.” 
  • Rip Currents, Ocean Waves and Surf Safety in the Sonoma Coast State Park: “Large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities-such as playing near the surf line, wading or climbing on rock outcroppings-deadly. Lifeguard service is limited along the Sonoma Coast. Check with park staff about the ocean conditions. Please be aware that conditions change quickly along the coast.”
  • Lake Sonoma Swimming and Boating Tips: “Wearing a life jacket and swimming with a buddy are great ways to have fun and stay safe. If you tire while swimming or run into trouble…’ Don’t panic,’ try to float on your back until the trouble has passed or you feel you have enough strength to return to shore.” 

To learn more, read about Great Swimming Beaches in Sonoma County (with and without lifeguards) and 5 Wine Country Resorts with Pool and Spa.

Water Quality and Health Updates:

During some summer periods, “Blue-Green Algae” levels can become toxic for pets and small children in certain areas. Please yield any signs and familiarize yourself with the latest water quality/blue-green algae updates for Sonoma County here

For more resources on health, water quality and public safety please visit the website of the County of Sonoma:

Have fun – be safe!

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