Auburn State Recreation Area

UPDATE (May 21, 2020) - As California State Parks begins working with locals on a phased and regionally-driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved, it is important for visitors to continue to practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with people outside their immediate household. Everyone has the responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Here are some guidelines for people visiting Auburn SRA:

What is open now?
Auburn State Recreation Area is open to vehicular traffic and parking at the following areas:
  • The Confluence
  • Quarry Trail Parking Lot
  • Auburn Staging Area
  • Cherokee Bar
  • China Bar
  • Cool Staging Area
  • Drivers's Flat Staging Area
  • Mammoth Bar OHV Area
  • Murphy's Gate
  • The Sector Office will be open on Monday, May 18, 2020

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this Park:
  • Campgrounds
  • Lower Lake Clementine
  • Upper Lake Clementine
  • Please note there is no water, soap, or hand sanitizer available for hand washing.
  • Campgrounds.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
Yes, please see below:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Walk or bike into the park. Parking is very limited. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
  • Stay Active: Keep walking, jogging, hiking and biking. Watch for one-way trails.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet: Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Gatherings, picnics and parties are not allowed. Visitors will be asked to leave if there are too many people at the park, beach or on trails to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Stay Clean: Be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: If your county health orders require it, please be sure to wear face coverings when you cannot maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others.

Thank you for your patience and continued support of California State Parks as we work to limit your risk for exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors. For more information, please visit


The rivers in Auburn SRA are running fast and cold with spring runoff. We strongly discourage visitors from swimming this time of year. Please see the Superintendent’s Message regarding water safety and drowning prevention here.

Temporary Closure of a Portion of the Cave Valley Climbing Area
To protect sensitive species in the area, the upper portion of the Cave Valley Climbing Area will be closed temporarily. This closure may last for up to 4 months. The closed area includes rock features known as Wreckage Wall, Twin Towers, and the entire upper canyon. Areas remaining open for technical climbing include Memorial Wall, Surf Tower, Tilting Vortex, Scale Wall, Horseshoe Canyon and Horsepoo Canyon. During this closure all areas within ½ mile of the area are closed to drone use.  The closure order has been posted throughout the area and can be found here.

Birdsall Road and River Access Reopening February 28, 2020!!!
Birdsall Road and river access has been closed since the floods of 2017. The US Bureau Of Reclamation secured funding and construction management to repair the road through the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Program (ERFO). The repairs began in October 2019 and were completed in early February of 2020. On Friday February 28th, 2020, the area will be reopened to the public. The area will be open to vehicle access Friday through Monday year round (weather permitting). Read the Press Release

Phone Number

(530) 885-4527

Park Hours

Day Use - Sunrise to sunset
Auburn Sector Office hours 8am to 4pm M-F excluding holidays

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- Closed to vehicle access due to Covid-19
Lower Lake Clementine Boat-In Campground- Closed to vehicle access due to Covid-19
Ruck-A-Chucky Campground/Driver's Flat Road- Driver’s Flat road and the river access area is open for day use 8 a.m. to sunset. State Park Campgrounds are closed throughout the state until further notice.
Mineral Bar Campground- Closed due to Covid-19
China Bar- Open Friday through Monday 8 am until sunset
Cherokee Bar/ Sliger Mine Rd.- Open for day use


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

UPDATED: 04/20/20
All trail work days cancelled at this time due to Covid-19                                         
Interested in volunteering? Send an email to and sign up!
 -Dates and sites subject to change at any time due to weather conditions-
DATE                     TYPE OF WORK             TRAIL SEGMENT
14th                                  Treadwork                              Culvert      
21st                                  Brushing                                 Wendell T. Robie
28nd                                 Brushing                                 Wendell T. Robie
11th                                 Treadwork                             Confluence
18th                                 EARTH DAY                            Confluence