Russian River Estuary
Marine Protected Area
Ocean and River Nursery
The Most Wildlife Rich Habitat
on the Russian River
Seal, Otter, Birds, Whale
Sharing the best ways
to view since 1987
Call 1-2 days in advance.
River Mouth Closed:
Do Not approach River Mouth Wildlife.
Protected Wildlife Habitat
"Stay back at least 150 feet" from resting or feeding wildlife by land and water.
Feeding and Disturbing Prohibited
Hot Now! River Otter, Harbor Seals, Many Birds
Used Kayak and Gear Sale!
Ask for best start times
per our forecast.
Estuary Forecast: 11/27/23 Layering works.
Dry bags and outerwear
free to use.
Reservations Required. No act of nature cancellation fees.
Hours / days can change to meet weather conditions.
Check Back for Forecast Changes
Mon:Clear and Calm: Rental Starts 10AM-1PM.
Tue-Fri: Cooler, breezy then rain, then wind. Closed
Sat-Sun: Forecast unsettled. Nice in between periods of sprinkles. Real rain expected near the end of December. We are open during nice periods through all school breaks.
Ocean Tides: Goat Rock Beach
Fall: Calm and sometimes windy: Ocean Moderates Coastal Temps. Mornings can be warmer than inland. River mouth may close.
Know which days to avoid windy afternoons
Use the links on this page to track weather and water conditions.
We use 4 apps as none correctly cover all. We are not responsible for accuracy as forecasts can and do change. Therefore, nobody can interpret with full accuracy.
A full list of our seasonal weather and river flow limitations, and what conditions cause periodic closures, can be found here.
As soon as we are again
CPR, First Aid, Water Rescue
Renew your certifications
to be part of a fun community education and recreational safety team.
Fees Covered with Seasonal or Annual Employment Agreement.
We Reward Your Experience!
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 : Can last through Summer
Common Summer River Mouth Hazards / Protected 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.
Often the wind or fog forecast is much higher than actual at our location.
This is due to our local hill ranges that can result in much less severe conditions, which are directly related to the wind direction. Wind coming from the North West always results in a direct wind impact in Jenner. Note that wind direction often changes from the morning hours into the afternoon, especially Fall through Spring. NW winds often don't rotate in to affect us until the afternoon, but sometimes this can happen early morning on extremely windy days.
Please see our interpretation using three recent forecast models on the left hand column of this page.
Tideschart: Best for tides at Goat Rock Beach
Regional 10 Day Forecasts and Our 3 Day Micro-climate. There are technical sections, but some are missing for Goat Rock, forcing us to use Bodega Bay for long term stats.
Yes. Goat Rock has different weather than Bodega Bay. This is because of the Russian River influence and how we are positioned on the coast concerning local topography both on land and off shore. Jenner can generally have much less fog and wind.
The 3 Day Hourly Superforecast is Best for wind and direction in the estuary. However we are often warmer and sunnier than their sky cover and temperature forecast.
Their 10 day forecast: Better for the temperature trend, especially for today and up to three days out, but it often overstates wind when it's actually quite calm in the main estuary.
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. "In Jenner" WNW and NW can be extremely windy. West, and South or East involvement is always calmer than the forecast even on windy days. W and WSW are often absolutely calm.
Windy: Fun graphics and you can get technical on the go with the app. They have a live wind direction map in the app. But we keep Windfinder as this one does not give hour by hour forecasts for three days. It also does not reflect actual calmer conditions at our location.
NOAA: National Weather Service Wind and Weather: Best for hourly rain, sky cover, and lightning. But "not" a micro-climate forecast for wind... unless you can forecast what wind direction means in Jenner being protected by our local hills on three sides of the estuary.
River Levels 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.