River Safety

Ready to Recreate in the Yuba? Think River Safety!

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As the days get hotter, a dip in the Yuba River seems all the more inviting. Here in mid-July, flow levels have tapered off (although you should always check before you go. SYRCL recommends using the Dreamflows site and the Nevada County Go Travel Alert page for up-to-date information) and the water isn’t as shockingly cold as it was at the start of “river season”. But river recreation is different than heading out to a lake or swimming in a pool. A river is a constantly evolving environment. Rocks shift, flows increase and decrease, water temperature fluctuates – a river is dynamic, full of change. It’s important that you think of River Safety.

When recreating at the Yuba, remember to assess the situation and your abilities realistically. If the conditions are treacherous or you feel overwhelmed, it’s best to wait rather than putting yourself at further risk. Stay safe and be prepared by learning basic water safety and survival skills beforehand.   

Know Your Limits

If you do choose to swim in the river, here are some crucial River Safety tips to keep in mind…  


  • Enter the water feet first! Always exercise caution when entering water.  
  • Stay alert when standing to prevent being knocked over by currents.  
  • Swim with a buddy – this is always a smart choice. Look out for each other’s safety.  


  • Enter the water from heights like boulders. It’s safer to find a designated entry point.  
  • Get distracted while supervising others, like reading or using a cell phone.  
  • Drink and swim – alcohol impairs judgment and increases the risk of accidents.  
River Safety

In case you find yourself caught in a rapid:  

  1. Stay calm: Panicking can impair your judgment, so take a deep breath try and keep calm and focused.
  2. Float on your back with your feet up, like you’re sitting in a Lazy-Boy recliner. Your nose and your toes should be visible.
  3. Never stand up in moving water. Especially in the rocky rapids of the Yuba, there are lots of places where your foot could get caught under a rock, and even knee deep water can trapping you, pushing you underwater.
  4. With your feet up and pointed downstream, use your legs like bumpers to push yourself off of large boulders or other obstacles you encounter. You can also use your arms to help steer you.
  5. Once you’re in a pool and the water has slowed, if you have the strength, roll over onto your stomach and swim towards shore, being extremely careful not to swim into any trees or other obstacles that could trap you.

And always remember to practice good river stewardship so we can protect the Yuba for future generations. 

  • Pack it in/Pack it out 
  • No Glass 
  • Clean Up After Your Dog 
  • No Fires 
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