Take the insider’s view, and roll by the Napa Valley Vineyards on a kayak. There is something about seeing the shore from the water that feels as if you’re seeing the world through a secret peephole.
The north part of the Napa River has dense foliage and the land you pass is diverse and rich. It’s in the north part of the river that the waters change from a mixture of salty ocean water and river water, to clear fresh river water, especially in the farthest parts north. Enjoy the blue herons and other water fowl. Some of the Napa River herons have a wing span that is longer than both of your arms outstretched. They are magnificent.
The central part of the Napa River offers more views and a variation that is unseen in either the lower or upper river. You’ll roll past the Napa vineyards and see them, in waving lines, growing up the hillsides. There are wetlands to enjoy as the elevation increases along the shoreline. The denser foliage even offers a few palm trees, and the water birds and fish are plentiful. At certain times during the day, salmon and stripers may break the surface of the water and splash into the air. This is the joy of a kayak ride on the Napa River!
Kayak under an old railroad bridge, and keep an eye out for ranches on this stretch. You may see long-horn cattle under a sheltering eucalyptus tree as you paddle by. If you are a dyed-in-the wool naturalist, there are plenty of small waterways to explore. Pick up a tide chart, or you may end up on high ground when the tides go out!
The Napa River flows into the San Pablo Bay, then the San Francisco Bay, and finally the Pacific as all rivers in the Bay Area do. Kayaking the entire river is a great adventure, but it’s best for people in very good shape. If you just want to cruise along, kayak the south end of the river. The river carries you along as it meets the sea. Then dine in Napa on the banks of the river. You are the diner who knows the Napa River’s secrets.