Russian River closed to recreation for Memorial Day weekend due to higher than normal water

Memorial Day weekend is typically the big summer kickoff at the Russian River, but this year the river isn't cooperating.

It's running so high and so fast, many of the beaches are closed for safety precautions.

Burke's Canoe Trips was sold out this weekend, but the Russian River just isn't safe right now.

The manager says he can tell from looking at pylons in the river, it is about three feet higher than normal this time of year.

And the currents are swifter, more than twice what it normally is.

Burke's had to cancel about a hundred reservatons for this weekend.

"We are disappointed we are disappointing all he people who had reservations. We had to call them all," said the manager Ted Schroeder.

Those late spring rains earlier this month have prompted park officials to close the beaches because the river is not safe.

That includes popular Johnson's Beach in Guerneville.

It was empty Friday except for the unused kayaks and canoes on the ground.

People aren't even allowed to sit in the sun there.

"We are not going to open anything. We don't people to get the message it is safe to be down here. We are leaning on the side of safety," said. Annie Boutelle manager of Johnson's Beach.

The warnings to stay off the river are forcing some visitors to find a Plan B.

"We planned on floatong down teh river. Now we'll have to hang out in town," said Scottee Downing of Austin, Texas.

The holiday weekend closure is a short term blow to a community looking to recover from damaging floods in February.

Some hotels still havent opened yet.

But a raging river does have its up side in the long term.

"Its going to be great all summer long. Because there is an abundance of water. So we are looking forward to a great summer," said Schroeder.

Most of the businesses seem to believe the river will be safe for swimming and boating next weekend.