Tides, Winds & Weather2017-05-15T23:09:03+00:00

About: Tides, Wind & Weather

Tides and Winds

Big River Estuary is 8.3 miles long during the highest tides, this makes it the 2nd longest in California. As the ocean rises and falls due to the moons gravity (and to a lesser extent the  suns gravity,) water spills into Big River and then recedes, with a directional switch in the flow about every 6 hours. The speed of the tidal flow is dependent on the difference between the high and low tides. A small difference yields a slow moving tide, while a big difference will  flow faster. The average difference or swing is about 5 feet which produces a current of  about 1.5 mph. Slow tides can be less than 1mph, while fast tides can approach 3mph. What  it all means is it’s usually best to contact us to find out the tidal conditions on the day you’d  like to paddle. Every day has it’s own tidal story which ranges from anytime is good to you should arrive at a specific time for the easiest experience.

 Wind is also a factor in ease of paddling. Mornings are less windy, while afternoons usually  see an increase. Prevailing winds are from the northwest creating a tailwind during the first  leg and a headwind during the return. Spring and summer typically have stronger wind than  fall and winter. Beyond the 2 mile point winds usually die down and the river becomes glassy.


Summer time highs range from about 60 to 75 degrees, while wintertime highs are usually in the fifties. The California rainy season is from November through April and rain may happen, but we remain open for those who don a rain jacket and want to get out on the water.

Other times of the year it may be foggy on the coast and clear upriver to the east. Hot tip—canoeing in the rain can be a magical experience!

Dress like an onion so you can peel off the layers when it warms up, or put them back on if it cools down. Fleece and a windbreaker works well. We loan out complimentary dry bags on request.

“Definitely something you should do while in the area. The people working there are very friendly and helpful. The canoe ride itself is amazing. Back where you will see little to no people on the river, it is beautiful and calm. 3 hours goes by fast so make sure to enjoy it. If you’re a photographer, you’re in luck. The water is so calm that you can easily take photos of wildlife or the river. I was able to take some great photos of some birds mid-flight, and even a seal. Reasonable prices for a great trip in a beautiful location..” — Joe S., Morgan Hill, CA


Mendocino sits atop beautiful ocean bluffs surrounded on three sides by Mendocino Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bluffs comprise the Mendocino Headlands and offer walking trails that afford incredible views of the ocean and the lovingly restored 1850’s New England style Victorians which now house restaurants, specialty shops, galleries and provide lodging for Mendocino artists. Historic buildings line the cliffs. At times the Pacific roars and crashes against the headlands with such force spindrift floats up to Main Street. The air tastes salty.

In a complex surrounding what was once a Victorian carriage house is the Mendocino Art Center, described by the National Endowment for the Arts as a “rural miracle.” The Mendocino Art Center serves area artists as well as artists and aspiring artists throughout the United States.

All this is the nature of Mendocino, located about 150 miles north of San Francisco on Highway 1. Besides the natural beauty, visitors to Mendocino will find a variety of things to see and do.

The history of Mendocino and its founding families can be explored at the Ford House and the Kelley House museums.

The Mendocino Community presents a variety of events from monthly art openings that celebrate art on the Second Saturday of every month to the annual Mendocino Music Festival providing performances in a huge tent on the Headlands in July. Other annual events include a Whale Festival, the Mendocino Art Center’s Garden Tour featuring exquisitely created home gardens with a luncheon at the Stanford Inn’s Raven’s Restaurant, an old-time 4th of July parade, the renown Art in the Gardens presented by the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, Winesong celebrating fine wines and local culinary talents in a tasting followed by an auction and celebrations of the Christmas holidays with lights and singing at the inns and lodges of Mendocino, Little River and Elk, and much more.

Hikers and mountain bikers enjoy bluff-top excursions to view seabirds, the seasonal gray whale migration and spring wildflowers. Nearby Big River Beach is ideal for family picnics and Big River is an ecological treasure which is easily explored by canoe or kayak which can be rented at Catch A Canoe & Bicycles, too!

Montgomery Woods up Comptche Ukiah Road offers virgin redwood groves with the tallest living tree in the world. Redwoods and Douglas Firs dominate the Russian Gulch State Park as well as other nearby State Parks including Van Damme and Hendy Woods. Many of these parks allow dogs on their trails. And at MacKerricher State Park Lari Shea offer horseback riding along the beach.

The town is compact and shopping and dining destinations are within easy walking distance of one another. Mendocino is an art collectors dream. Coast artists show their works at the Mendocino Art Center and in the scores of privately owned galleries. Performing arts include productions by the Mendocino Theatre Company,

Visit Mendocino, enjoy a stay at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, Explore Big River on a bicycle or kayak. And dine at Ravens Restaurant. What could be better?!