Russian River – Float & Bike

It almost seems a crime that I’ve spent most of my life in the Bay Area and never experienced a proper float down the Russian River. For a wonderful friend’s birthday, I was able to join on this fantastic weekend of relaxation, with just the right amount of debauchery.


Ferngrove Cottages.

We rented a great little cottage at the Ferngrove Cottages, just a short walk from downtown Guerneville. Our little two bedroom cottage had a full kitchen and lovely decks, tucked among the redwoods. The hotel is pet-friendly and offers wonderful breakfasts, has a barbecue and social area, plus a pool. Highly recommend this spot, particularly if you’re able to share a cottage with friends!


Early morning ride selfie. Photo credit: Lisette

The first morning I woke up and decided to do a quick early morning ride among the vineyards and redwoods. I took 116 to Martinelli Road back to River Road into Guerneville. This route is gorgeous, about 18.5 miles, and passes two wineries (Korbel and Hartford Family Winery). Korbel offers free tastings, and Hartford is really beautiful, quiet and tucked into the hills.


Floating with friends. Photo credit: Lisette

Our main goal for the weekend was a river float. I thought about kayaking, but with everyone else in floats, I decided the river is best kayaked solo in the mornings, while the float is to be done on a proper tube with friends (make sure you tie together). My new Creek Kooler was a big hit and held plenty of drinks and snacks for four of us on the river (we had a total of 12 people and three floating coolers). Pro tip – bring koozies for your drinks!


Pre-sunburn. Photo credit: one of the friends.

As far as logistics, a few notes. We started at Steelhead Beach and floated to Sunset Beach, this took us about 3.5 hours. We left a car at Sunset and then parked at Steelhead, which filled up FAST. The beaches all cost about $7 to park, and many require cash. If you want another lesser known spot, the Forestville Beach (Mother’s Beach) access is also quite nice, but fills up fast. This is a great spot for a morning run with dogs. I also highly recommend bringing at least one extra floaty and tying it to the crew, we definitely had a few floaty casualties as we bumped into rocks, sticks and other hazards.


There were many unicorns among the floaties. Photo credit: Lisette

As far as the float itself, this is incredible. It’s so serene, relaxing and just plain fun. It’s basically a floating chill frat party, and everyone is happy. I definitely forgot to reapply sunscreen, so the next few days were a bit painful. Also, know that any after-float plans you have will likely be cancelled for naps.


Another gorgeous meadow between downtown and our hotel. Photo credit: Lisette

For more about the town, see my next post!

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