Winter twilight on the river

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The Russian River reflects a late-winter twilight sky at Monte Rio Beach.

Monte Rio Beach isn’t just one of our favorite spots on the Russian River because it’s the beach closest to home (though we’re not gonna lie—that’s great), but we love it because it’s a big, wide beach on a bend in the Russian River; it’s right in the middle of town, with a view of it all: whether it’s the beautiful trees on the hills surrounding Monte Rio or the cool retro movie theater and other vintage architecture in town, the beach is central. There’s a big family of mallard ducks always hanging around—we see them on every visit and they make the beach even homier. It’s also one of the less-busy beaches in the summer and has been our go-to place for wading, swimming, tubing and kayaking.

In the warmer months, and really, year-round in the past couple drought years, the river has been especially shallow at Monte Rio Beach. It wasn’t hard to wade out to the middle before the water would even come up to our hips. But now, with the winter rains, this is a different river: it appears much deeper and wider and has a noticeable current (in the summer, it has been just as easy to paddle a kayak upstream as it has to go downstream).

The beach was almost empty on this evening except for a couple people fishing. It was a different place than we’d seen it before—just as beautiful as always, but with an added peacefulness. Definitely, we’ll need to make more winter visits to this beach.

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