California Whitewater Rafting » Flows

Russian River Flow Graph

The Russian River is fed by the Van Arsdale Reservoir on the upper Eel River. The chart below is for flows on the class II-III whitewater section of the Russian above Cloverdale.

Realtime Flows on Dreamflows – Russian River

Flow Level Descriptions

  • 200-500 CFS = Low flows best for beginning kayakers, most likely too low for large rafts some smaller rafts may be able to maneuver under 500 CFS. Great flows for experienced canoeists.
    500+ CFS = Low flows. Large rafts can navigate at these flows.
  • 10,000 – 1,000 CFS= High flows best for experienced boaters. In winter months heavy rains can cause large torrents of water, swift currents and muddy water. Boaters should use caution and watch for debris and obstruction in water.

CFS=cubic feet per second

Flow Tip

The Russian River flows throughout the winter, but make sure to check flows before you go because it often floods during and after storms. Although the river is moderately easy, during flood stage it extremely dangerous.

Russian River Watershed

The Russian River begins five miles east of Willits in Mendocino county and travels south past the town of Healdsburg before turning west where it eventually meets the Pacific Ocean. During the winter months the Russian River is fed by storm runoff and can be as high as 10,000 CFS by mid January. By late spring flows would naturally tapper off and the river canyon would run dry in summer if it were not for the water supplied by the Van Arsdale Reservoir on the Upper Eel River. Every April water is redirected from the reservoir to the Russian River Valley to irrigate the multitude of vineyards throughout the Alexander Valley and along the Russian River. Today the Russian empties into the Pacific ocean year round. The mouth of the river is about 60 miles north of San Francisco Bay on the Pacific Coast between Goat Rock Beach and the town of Jenner.