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Lower Russian River Exploration

The Russian River originates in the redwood forests of Mendocino County and winds gently south through Sonoma County.

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Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 5.8 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview : 

Lower Russian River Paddle

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Getting There

Location and Directions to Duncans Mills & Jenner:

From Hwy 101 at Santa Rosa, CA

Take River Road Exit west to... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Putting In at the Russian River

95 percent of the Russian River watershed is private property and there are few public access points on the lower river. To duplicate our tour on your own, the best place to launch your boat is at Casini Family Campground in Duncans Mills, just upriver from our access point.

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2. Nesting Ospreys on the Russian River

In this video, our guide Suki Waters takes us to visit the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk. (Additional photos provided by Suki Waters, George Scott Zastrow Photography, USGS, and the Army Corps of Engineers.)

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), migrate to South America in the winter and return to the same nests in the... More

3. North American River Otters

One of the most charismatic animals on the Russian River, the fun-loving North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) has come back from the brink of extinction. Playful and inquisitive, this member of the weasel family is highly adaptable and nearly as comfortable on land as it is in the water. (Photo provided by Suki Waters)

Excellent... More

4. Quest on the Russian River

"The Sun shines not on us but in us. The Rivers flow not past, But through us…"
- John Muir

12 data stations have been installed in the estuary to measure water temperature, oxygen levels, salinity and bacteria levels in the lower river. Scientists are also testing for pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and waste water residue in the estuary. ... More

5. The Dynamic Russian River Estuary

In this video, our river guide, Suki Waters, gives us a tour of the Russian River estuary and explains what makes this place such a dynamic ecosystem. Additional photos provided by Suki Waters and George Scott Zastrow Photography.

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6. Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) have only recently returned to the Russian River after being nearly unseen over the last half-century. Decimated in this area by the effects of the pesticide DDT, their return to the estuary may be a sign that the health of the river ecosystem is improving. There are known nesting pairs in the Willow Creek ... More

7. Harbor Seals

Marine Mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This law prohibits people from harassing or disturbing marine mammals. Whether on land or in a boat, stay at least 100 yards away from the resting harbor seals in the rookery.

The Harbor Seal or Common Seal (Phoca vitulina), is a true seal that is abundant at the mouth of the ... More