Navarro River


The Navarro River drains a watershed of over 200,000 acres. The Navarro River is formed by the confluence of Rancheria, Indian, and Anderson Creeks in the Anderson Valley. The Anderson Valley extends for 25 miles in the middle of the watershed and is named for William Anderson, one of the first white Americans to see the valley. Redwood forest covers the western end, also called the “deep end,” of the drainage, grading eastward into drier oak woodland, chaparral, and grassland.

By 1852 a series of small settlements dotted the valley, each with its own church, store, and school. The first logging mill was built in 1857 on the Navarro River. Harvest of tan oaks was also an early occupation. Sheep and cattle ranching were widespread, reaching 75,000 sheep and 20,000 cattle by 1880. Apples did very well in Anderson Valley and by the 1940s over 60 apple driers were operating. Vineyards were first planted by Italian immigrants in the Greenwood area, but with Prohibition and a series of extreme frosts, most vineyards were wiped out by the 1940s.

The largest change to the Navarro River drainage occurred with the timber boom of the 1950s. Rapid population growth in California spurred the clear-cutting of most of the forests in the area. Over 50 mills were operating and quickly liquidated the forest into building products, leaving a significant legacy of eroding roads, landslides, and silted streams. After 1973, logging operations became subject to more regulation and resulted in far lower environmental impacts.

Vineyards were planted once again in the 1960s. Husch Vineyards, the first modern winery, was established in 1971. The 1980s saw further expansion of wineries and vineyards on former sheep and cattle ranches, apple orchards, and forestry lands. For more information, contact Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association ( and Yorkville Highlands Growers and Vintners Association (