The South Yuba River is the gem of Nevada County, California. This California Wild & Scenic River drops a dramatic 4,000 feet in elevation over a distance of 40 miles, creating hundreds of stunning waterfalls intermixed with placid emerald pools. The South Yuba Citizens League has worked since 1983 to preserve and protect this important river.
The South Yuba River is part of the larger Yuba River Watershed, which is home to the Middle Yuba and North Yuba, and drains more than 1,500 square miles of Sierra Nevada foothills, much of which is located within Tahoe National Forest. This beautiful landscape offers hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
As you plan your trip to the river, check out these important tips and resources for a safe and fun river experience with your family and friends.
Where should I go on the Yuba?
California State Parks hosts two of the most beautiful locations on the Yuba River at the South Yuba River State Park: Highway 49 Crossing and Bridgeport Crossing. Both have stunning views and options for swimming.
You can be a good steward to the river and the river community during your visit by parking responsibly, packing out what you pack in, picking up after your pet, not starting fires, and leaving glass of any kind at home.
Parking is limited and costs $10. Facilities include a visitor center, ADA accessible restrooms, pay phone, a beverage vending machine, and trash and recycling receptacles.
Land Owners: California State Parks
Parking is limited. Facilities include ADA accessible portable toilets and trash cans.
Land Owners: California State Parks
What Should I Know Before I Go?
The South Yuba River is a tranquil place and it is also remote. This means you need to prepare for both limited cell service and limited facilities and have a plan for emergencies.
NO CELL SERVICE: There is no cell service in the Yuba River Canyon. Prepare ahead of time by picking a meeting place before you leave, communicating with everyone in your group ahead of time, and downloading maps to the area.
LIMITED PARKING: Parking is limited at all river access points at the South Yuba River. If the parking lot is full at the location when you arrive, that location has reached visitor capacity. Take the opportunity to explore a new location
EMERGENCY INFORMATION: There is no cell service in the Yuba River Canyon. Make a plan for emergencies before you go. The nearest hospital is Sierra Nevada Memorial: 155 Glasson Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Call boxes are located at Bridgeport and Purdon crossings. Emergency response times can be up to 30 minutes if an accident occurs at the river. For more information visit Nevada County Office of Emergency Services before your trip.
HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS: If the weather is predicted to be hot during your visit to the South Yuba River, take precautions to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Know the signs and how to respond. The CDC’s guidelines on heat-related illness can be found here.
PET SAFETY: Hot air temperatures make surfaces to-and-from the river hot, hot, hot! A minute of exposure can lead to blistered paws. Consider skipping the dip with your pooch when temperatures are high.
What Is Proper Etiquette For The Yuba River?
The South Yuba River sees over 800,000 visitors a year. This means we all need to do our part to keep the river clean. When at the river, we ask that you:
What Else Is There To Do Around The Yuba Watershed?
The South Yuba River watershed features dozens of trails, creeks, meadows, and rivers to explore. This area also has a deep history and is home to Indigenous peoples.
Dozens of trails are available to explore via hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Whether you are a first time camper or a seasoned backpacker, the Yuba River watershed offers options for a wide variety of camping styles. Remember while camping that NO FIRES are allowed in the South Yuba River canyon; it only takes a spark to put our entire community at risk. Note: camping is only allowed in designated areas.
- Inn Town Campground
- Scotts Flat Lake
- South Yuba Recreation Area
- Tahoe National Forest Camping
- River Rest Resort
Culture & History
The Indigenous people who call this area home were greatly impacted by the California Gold Rush. So too was the land and the river. Learn more about the history of the Yuba watershed below as well as what SYRCL is doing to restore it.
- California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project
- Empire Mine State Park
- Malakoff Diggins State Park
- SYRCL’s Watershed Restoration
This river community is buzzing with events and activities that happen throughout the year. Visit these community calendars to learn more.
Where Else Can I Visit Near The Yuba?
The South Yuba River has become increasingly popular in recent years. The river crossings reach visitor capacity when the parking lots are full. If you find yourself without a place to park, try exploring somewhere new.
The Yuba River watershed has a lot to offer. Below are just a few recommendations.
Scott’s Flat: Scott’s Flat Recreation Area has a day use fee starting at $14. Facilities include a marina store, ADA accessible restrooms, boat launch and rental, picnic area, campground and playground. Land Owner: Nevada Irrigation District
Oregon Creek: Parking is limited at the Oregon Creek Day Use area. Some street parking is available. Facilities include restrooms. Land Owner: US Forest Service
Deer Creek: Parking is limited near the trailheads of the Deer Creek Tribute Trail system. Facilities are limited to the areas that cross through town and include restrooms and trash cans. Land Owners: City of Nevada City, Bureau of Land Management, and Nevada Irrigation District
Bear River: Parking is limited at Bear River Campground. Facilities include camping and barbecues. Land Owner: Placer County Parks