Auburn State Recreation Area

August 30, 2019: Potential Cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Blooms in Auburn and Folsom Lake State Recreation Areas

California State Parks has recently become aware of suspected incidents of harmful algal blooms (HABs) within both the Auburn and Folsom Lake State Recreation Areas. As California confronts the realities of climate change, HABs have become increasingly common in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and they can be especially dangerous to children and pets. State Parks is encouraging recreational users of all bodies of fresh water in Auburn and Folsom Lake State Recreation Areas to be aware of the potential for cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (HABs).

In recent weeks, two separate incidents of possible cyanobacteria poisoning in dogs have been reported at Moony Ridge (Folsom State Recreation Area) and Oregon Bar (Auburn State Recreation Area). The incident at Oregon Bar resulted in the death of the dog, although the actual cause of death has not been confirmed. Sampling by Water Resources Control Board staff on August 23, confirmed the presence of cyanobacterial mats growing on rocks in a side channel of the American River at Oregon Bar. Caution signs have been posted in these areas and additional signage has been posted throughout the parks to increase public awareness of the potential risks. Algal blooms can form and die off fairly rapidly and it is difficult to continuously test and monitor the many lakes and miles of our local rivers.

To learn more, view our entire press release here: 

Auburn State Recreation Area Fire Restrictions
Due to dry conditions, remote terrain and increased fire danger, Auburn State Recreation Area will implement fire restrictions effective July 1, 2019 for the entire Auburn State Recreation Area. All fires including those in provided campfire rings and “Tiki Torches” will be prohibited. Additionally, portable cooking devices fueled by wood, gas, charcoal, pressurized liquid fuel or jellied petroleum are also prohibited in all day use areas of the State Recreation Area. Portable cooking devices and lanterns fueled by gas, petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel will be permitted in designated campsites. For additional information about these restrictions, please contact the Auburn Sector Office.

Phone Number

(530) 885-4527

Park Hours

Auburn Sector Office hours 8am to 4pm M-F excluding holidays

Day Use - Sunrise to sunset, year round

*$10 Day Use Fee (per vehicle) is required in most areas.

Driving Directions to Auburn SRA

The park (which is 20 miles long on two forks of the American River) is situated south of Interstate 80, stretching from Auburn to Colfax. The main access is from Auburn, either on Highway 49 or the Auburn-Foresthill Road.

Camping and Lodging

Visitors will be able to reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date. Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date – based on availability and the park’s maximum stay rules.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

Family Campsites
Primitive Camping
Boat-in/Floating Camps
Hiking Trails
Horseback Riding
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Off-Highway Vehicles
Beach Area
Vista Point
Family Programs

Seasonal Access

Upper Lake Clementine-  Open for the season. If the road is closed due to wet weather this message will be updated.
Lower Lake Clementine Boat-In Campground- Open for the 2019 season.
Ruck-A-Chucky Campground/Driver's Flat Road- Open for the 2019 season after an extensive road improvement project. Please obey the 15mph speed limit.
The back half of Mineral Bar Campground- Open for the season
China Bar- Open Fridays through Mondays - 8am to sunset year round and the 4th of July
Cherokee Bar/ Sliger Mine Rd.- Open for the 2019 season

Birdsall Road and Boat Launch Closed Indefinitely

Due to a landslide on portions of Birdsall Road and boat launch area, the area has been closed to all public entry. The closed area is approximately .58 mile east of the beginning of Birdsall Road to the North Fork of the American River and includes vessel launching and take out. The next available river take out is approximately 1.25 miles downstream at Oregon Bar. 


The park (which is 20 miles long on two forks of the American River) is situated south of Interstate 80, stretching from Auburn to Colfax. The main access is from Auburn, either on Highway 49 or Foresthill Road.

In the heart of the gold country, the Auburn State Recreation Area (Auburn SRA) covers 40-miles of the North and Middle Forks of the American river. Once teeming with thousands of gold miners, the area is now a natural area offering a wide variety of recreation opportunities to over 900,000 visitors a year.

Major recreational uses include hiking, river access, boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, gold panning, limited hunting, equestrian/horseback riding trails and off-highway motorcycle riding. Whitewater recreation is also very popular on both forks of the river, with Class II, III, IV, and V runs. Over 30 -private outfitters are licensed to offer whitewater trips in Auburn SRA.

Auburn SRA is made up of mainly federal lands. California State Parks administers the area under a Managing Partnership Agreement with the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing

Summer temperatures here average from high~80s to mid~90s, and winters are wet, with highs in the mid~50s and lows in 30s and low~40s. Dress in layers, and bring rain gear between October and April.

Natural Resources

Auburn State Recreation Area has richly varied natural habitats.
Riparian habitat- White alders, willows, Fremont cottonwoods and creek dogwoods line the rivers and stream banks.
Chaparral and foothill woodland- South facing upper canyon walls support chaparral-small, drought resistant trees and shrubs. Poison oak grows in the foothill woodlands community, as well buckeyes, interior live oaks, blue oaks, manzanita, deer brush and toyon.
Mixed conifer- Ponderosa pines, Douglas-fir, California black oaks and madrone cover the north facing upper canyon walls.
All habitats bloom in spring with acres of wildflowers such as monkey flowers, fiddleneck, Indian paintbrush, larkspur, lupine and brodiaea.
Park Wildlife- Black tailed deer and rabbits can be seen during the daylight hours, while raccoons, opossums, gray foxes and coyotes rule the night. Black bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bobcats live in the park. The riparian habitat host California quail and canyon wrens. Red tailed hawks and bald eagles soar overhead, seeking their next meal.

Gold Panning Regulations

The Auburn SRA allows gold panning using the “hands and pans” method. Please abide by the following regulations when collecting minerals:

Panning for gold is considered to be “rockhounding” as the term is applied in the Department. The goldpan is the only exception permitted to the exclusion of tools from rockhounding in a unit (T-14 CCR 4611 (i))

Rockhounding is the recreational gathering of stones and minerals found occurring naturally on the undisturbed surface of the land, including panning for gold in the natural water-washed gravel beds of streams (T-14 CCR 4301(v)).

Tools and equipment may not be used in rockhounding, except gold pans. Rocks or minerals gathered may not be sold or used commercially for the production of profit. One person may gather no more than 15 pounds of mineral material per day. Historic and prehistoric or archeological specimens may not be gathered. In state recreation areas rockhounding is limited to beaches which lie within the jurisdiction of the Department and within the wave action zone on lakes, bays, reservoirs, or on the ocean, and to the beaches or gravel bars which are subject to annual flooding on streams. Rockhounding is limited to within the wave action zones of lakes and streams. Muddy water from panning must not be visible more than 20 feet from the panning operation (T-14 CCR 4307, 4308, & 4611).

If you have any questions, please call the Auburn SRA office for more information.

Please Remember

Carry a trail map, and be aware of the park's steep canyons and extreme heat during the summer.

All natural and cultural features of the park are protected by law and must not be removed or disturbed.

Do not hike alone. Wear long pants and be alert for ticks.

Watch out for mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and black bears.

Poison oak grows throughout the park.

Pets must be under control and on a leash no longer than six feet. They must be enclosed in a tent or vehicle at night.

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Volunteer Trail Work Days

We completed several volunteer trail work days during the 2018/19 season.  Thank you to the volunteers who helped during these projects.  We will be announcing 2019/20 volunteer work dates in the fall of 2019.