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Splashes of Color in Monte Rio, California

 

 

Tall, colorful trees caress the hills that frame the normally gently flowing Russian River in Monte Rio.  Monte Rio is a place of serenity and beauty. Sit under an umbrella along the banks of the river and watch the day go by. Go to a movie at the theater or dine at one of the fantastic restaurants in this neck of the woods. Monte Rio is 4 miles west Guerneville on Highway 116 and 7 miles north of Occidental.  Located in Sonoma County, this unincorporated community enjoys a year round mild climate and less fog than coastal counterparts eight miles away. Chamber of Commerce: monterio.org
 

First named Montrio in 1902, the town boasted a valuable rail route that tied the region to nearby Marin County locations..  The railroad stop included a hotel and restaurant for overnight lodgings. As word of the beautiful region spread, vacationers began coming for rest and relaxation in the early 1920's. In 1924, the local postal service renamed the community to Monte Rio. A wave of tourism established the community as a destination for several decades. One seven story hotel touted "every floor is a ground floor." Guests road paddle wheel boats along the lazy river and also enjoyed kayaking and canoes.  They took hikes, took naps and danced at night along the crowded streets of town. 

 

Previous to this time, it is believed that the coastal Miwok and valley Pomo people who lived along the Shabaikai river and its adjacent land for centuries enjoyed a bounty of fish and food from the river and sea here. They were said to be a harmonious group that shared their wealth.  When Russian trappers arrived in canoes in  the 19th century,  the intruders trapped and  killed beaver in large quantities. They changed the landscape forever, hurting the local ecosystem and destroying valuable natural resources that Miwok people relied on. 

 

Today Monte Rio includes a mix of residential and vacation guests. Though well over an hour north of the City of San Francisco, commuters work in the city and return home to banks of the Russian River daily to experience the solitude this piece of paradise offers. Life is not boring in Monte Rio, however.  Annual events include the  Memorial Day Barbecue, Water Carnival Weekend and Big Rocky Games, 4th of July Fireworks display,  Pegasus Theater Presents and many community fund raising activities. Year round activities include the attractions enjoyed for centuries by even the Miwok. Hiking, fishing and other river oriented sports continue to delight those who call Monte Rio home for a day, week or lifetime.