Sunset Beach


Rating: C

Sonoma's first nude beach is still its most popular swimming hole, with some of the deepest water on the Russian River. However, naked use seldom takes place. A few naturists can sometimes be found near the bushes at the top of the big hill of sand that rims the beach. "Guys will stand up in the bushes and be seen by canoeists," says Gregg. The site is known locally as Hacienda Beach. In the early morning, check for butterflies that often flutter along the water's edge. Sometimes, dozens of them cluster together next to the river.

Public access area of private property. For enforcement policy, see Lower Wohler Bridge.

How to find it:

From San Francisco, go north on Highway 101, passing Santa Rosa, to River Road. Take River Road west to its intersection with Sunset Avenue in the Hacienda District, which is east of Guerneville and 2.1 miles east of the Korbel Winery. Park where you see other cars pulled over on either side of River Road, then follow until you get to the third "No Parking" sign, where you'll find an easy path to the river. At the river, turn right and walk west (toward the ocean) about 100 feet. Just out of the woods, you'll come to a sandy hill usually frequented by a few people; the next beach you come to will be Sunset.

The beach:

Sunset is a sloping beach with nice, deep water. It's a great place to take a dip and cool off. Visitors love to bring their dogs to the beach. The walk to the quarter mile long site will take you through some beautiful trees and greenery.

The crowd:

We counted around 15 visitors, including families and children, plus a few dogs, on the beach or in the water on a sunny weekend. Most users are suited.


Proximity of canoeists; rocks in river (wear shoes); area subject to visits by deputies; parking on Sunset Avenue prohibited; nude use usually limited to bushes at top of beach.

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