For Immediate Release: 7/24/2020

California State Parks Partially Restricts Public Parking at Auburn State Recreation Area to Avoid Dangerous Visitation Surges

Contact: Mike Howard I Sector Superintendent I (530) 823-4141

California State Parks today announced a temporary restriction for public parking on Yankee Jims Road, located within Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA). Effective today, the road will be closed to parking until further notice to avoid visitation surges and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in this popular outdoor destination. During this temporary restriction, the road will remain open for through traffic. Parking restrictions will be strictly enforced (view order).

Located in the heart of the gold country, Auburn SRA covers 40 miles of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. Once teaming with thousands of gold miners, the area is now a natural area offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Yankee Jims Road is a narrow mountain road between Colfax and Foresthill, which is reduced to one lane in numerous areas, and can only accommodate approximately 12 legally parked vehicles.

In the last two weekends, Yankee Jims Road has received an unusually high number of visitors making any fire or rescue response extremely difficult to impossible. This past weekend (July 18-19), total vehicle counts in the area were above 300. After consulting with CAL FIRE, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol, California State Parks will be closing Yankee Jims Road to parking July 23, 2020 until further notice to address public safety concerns (view video).

“These parking restrictions have been enacted for the safety of our visitors, the neighboring communities and first responders,” said Auburn Sector Superintendent Mike Howard. “With this level of visitation, responding to an emergency or evacuating the area in the event of a wildfire could easily become catastrophic. We have received reports of people being unable to move forward, turn around or leave the area for hours over the last two weekends.”

The public is reminded that California is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s hospitalizations, case positivity rates and fatalities have been increasing. Everyone has a role to play in slowing down the spread of COVID-19, including in the outdoors. Road trips to public outdoor spaces are strongly discouraged at this time. Additionally, visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.

While each city or county may have their own set of guidelines, here are some new visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented to date: 

  • Stay Local – Stay close to home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Do not travel if you are sick, or if someone in your household has had coronavirus in the last two weeks.
  • Plan Ahead – Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of the local outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, if camping reservations can be booked and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
  • Stay Safer at 6 feet -- No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Keep Clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash. If you are camping in an RV, please use the restrooms in your own unit. This will help reduce the use of the shared restrooms at campgrounds.
  • Stay Covered – The state now requires you to wear a face covering in the outdoors when you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not your immediate household members. For details, please read California Department of Public Health’s guidance for the use of face coverings here. Visitors should also abide by their local county health orders.

State Parks will continue to monitor visitation and physical distancing across the State Park System and if unsafe conditions develop, parks and beaches may close again. The department thanks visitors for their partnership as we collectively enable responsible recreation that protects the health of visitors and the dedicated parks staff.

For more information on the latest efforts the department has taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please visit

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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.