Yuba River Safety

Practice Responsible River Recreation

It’s always important to practice safety when visiting the river. This means staying up-to-date on river alerts, and knowing flows before you go. You can learn about current river conditions at the following sites:

  • You can use Dreamflows to see how much water is flowing (in cubic feet per second (CFS)).
  • Make sure to check snowmelt conditions. All of the rain and snow we received in the Sierra this winter is now melting, making rivers extremely cold and fast. It’s important to check snowmelt conditions before your visit to predict how cold and fast the river will be.

SYRCL Urges Yuba River Visitors to be Safe this Summer

June 6, 2019 — We’re very lucky to have had a year with ample precipitation, and this sure is a big water year—Sierra Nevada Snowpack is at 202% of average.  However, this also means that water will be high, fast, and cold well into June and July.

At the beginning of June, the South Yuba was flowing at 4,000 cfs. In the summer, traditional swimming levels flow closer to 50-100cfs. This means it is not safe to swim, and the old adage of “stay out, stay alive” is in full effect.

The weather is warming now, and people are flocking to the river. With 800,000 visitors/year to the Yuba River, it’s important we get the word out ahead of a busy season of river use.   On average, five lives are lost to tragic Yuba river-related accidents annually.

Please stay safe by practicing good judgement and stay out of the water.

On June 6th, 2019, the Yuba River Safety Cohort convened at the Highway 49 Bridge, in the South Yuba River State Park to hold a press conference about the deadly river conditions on the Yuba this summer.  In past year, under similar river conditions resulted in tragic deaths.  In an effort to educate the community with a united public message that clearly communicates the risks swimmers face, prompted the gathering of these agencies and public safety officials.

At today’s press conference, leaders from SYRCL, Nevada County, California State Parks, Nevada County Supervisor Sue Hoek, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office,  Nevada County Consolidated Fire, Cal Fire, and Nevada County Search & Rescue spoke about dangerous river levels, annual deaths on the river from drowning and accidents, and contributing factors such as drugs and alcohol related to these incidents.  In addition, they laid out a clear message on water safety and fire safety along with best river stewardship practices visitors can adopt.

See the full press conference below and photo gallery of the mock river rescue drill.

Melinda Booth, Executive Director, SYRCL – Press Conference Welcome

Matt Green, Sierra District Superintendent, CA State Parks – Positive Partnerships at the River

Sue Hoek, Board of Supervisors, Nevada County – Safety Cohort & Fire Ban

Mike Walsh, Captain, Nevada County Sheriff – River Recreation Visitor Safety

Josh Sunde, Battalion Chief, Nevada County Consolidated Fire – Water Safety

Matt Wallan, Battalion Chief, Calfire – Fire Safety 

Melinda Booth, Executive Director, SYRCL – Visitor Stewardship at the River


Press Conference Photo Gallery


Remember, river safety is your responsibility.

Important Message About River Safety from SYRCL
Here at SYRCL, we like to encourage river-goers to be safe and practice responsible river recreation, throughout the seasons. Learn more about a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones while at the river. Produced by Jim Pyle and Katrina Schneider. (8/30/2017) (run time: 03:58)


    1. LOOK: The river changes. Boulders shift. Debris can obstruct familiar swim ways. Look for obstructions by scouting safe landings and swim routes with a mask.
    2. GRIP: Granite is smooth and slick. Wet granite is slippery. Use three points of contact when walking through and across rocks.
    3. PROTECT: Moving water is powerful. Limb entrapments may be hidden. Tuck arms and legs toward the mid-line of the body to avoid being trapped under water.