Charlotte Hornby, 24, was brought up on in Fortrose on the Black Isle where her parents still live.
Her body was discovered in Inverness, at around 5.20pm Sunday by a police dog handler in the area of Island Bank Road close to the city's Ness Islands beauty spot where people can walk from one side of the River Ness to the other.
She was understood to have been returning to her family's nearby flat in Dores Road in the early hours of Sunday after a night out.
Her death is being treated as unexplained and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.
Charlotte's family issued a statement saying: "Charlotte, daughter of Patricia and Harry Hornby and sister to Edward Hornby, was intelligent, outgoing and enjoyed a wide range of outdoor pursuits.
"She was ambitious, confident and made friends wherever she appeared.
"Recently she was in the process of returning to the Highlands and was moving into a flat with her brother Edward. That exciting new stage in her life will not now be realised.
"In 24 years, Charlotte has lived life to the full. Her family can only be consoled in the knowledge she passed suddenly having achieved so much, having left a smile on all our faces."
As part of the ongoing appeal to establish Charlotte's last known movements, acting Chief Inspector Mark Czerniakiewicz said: "Charlotte was last seen at approximately 3.25am, when she parted company with a friend and was seen heading towards Cavell Gardens, near the war memorial. She was wearing a black leather jacket, black dress, black tights and carrying a tan handbag.
"We appeal to members of the public who were in the Ness Bank area and the Islands Bank Road area of Inverness at the time to please contact us on 101 with any information."