Since 1986, 44 people have drowned in Auburn State Recreation Area’s rivers. Most of these drownings occur in the spring when our rivers are running cold and fast and the weather is warm. These tragedies are completely preventable by following the recommendations below.
• I strongly urge people to stay out of, and away from, the rivers this time of year. Unless you are a whitewater expert wearing proper protective river gear, or on a commercial river trip, you are unprepared to be in the water.
• Anyone within 20 feet of the river should be wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) in case of an unexpected fall into the river. We provide PFDs at no charge in the Confluence area and at Upper Lake Clementine.
• Children should be kept away from the water.
• Do not overestimate your swimming abilities. Cold water and swift currents can exhaust a person in seconds.
• Swimming across Clark’s Hole (North Fork upstream from the Foresthill Bridge) is very dangerous, unnecessary, and has been the location of recent drownings.
• By the time a person is in need of rescue there is virtually nothing we can do to save that person.
• If you find yourself in the river, aggressively swim to the shore. Do not swim against the current. This uses energy very quickly and nobody can swim upstream in swift current.
• Many people have drowned attempting to save others. Focus on preventing a rescue for you and your loved ones.
Please enjoy our beautiful park and save the swimming for summer.
Stay Out, Stay Alive!
Superintendent, Auburn State Recreation Area
Cave Valley Closure
A portion of the Cave Valley Climbing area is temporarily closed due to nesting birds. The nests are being monitored regularly and this closure will be lifted as soon as our Environmental Scientists determine human activity in the area will not negatively affect this biological resource. The contents of this posted order can be found here temporary Cave Valley Closure A violation of this posted order is a misdemeanor. We anticipate the area being reopened sometime in July.
Mammoth Bar Update
Mammoth Bar is partially re-opened for OHV use. For more information click here Mammoth Bar OHV web site.
Ponderosa Road Closure
Ponderosa Road Closed from the Foresthill side down to the bridge is CLOSED due road conditions. The Colfax side is open and high clearance vehicles are recommended.
- Upper Lake Clementine *Opening May 5th - Day use beach
- Lower Lake Clementine Boat-In Campground *Campsites 13-16 are open now, first come first serve
- Ruck-A-Chucky Campground *Open for 2018 season.
- The back half of Mineral Bar Campground *Open
- China Bar *Open Fridays through Mondays - 8am to sunset year round
- Cherokee Bar/ Sliger Mine Rd. *Open for 2018 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 the Auburn-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 partner with the US Bureau of Reclamation.
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.
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.
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.