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 The voice of California's rivers

Visit California Rivers in Their Autumn Glory

Autumn Leaves

The advent of fall brings beautiful colors to the foliage along California’s rivers and streams. Late September through October is an ideal time to experience the fall color. Here are some great ideas to experience fall colors along some of our free flowing rivers. What more do you need as an excuse for a road trip?

Arroyo Seco River  Arroyo Seco Autumn Colors    

The moderating influence of the coast brings fall a little later to the Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey County. So be sure to visit the Arroyo Seco River a few weeks later in the season. The Arroyo Seco is one of our top candidates for federal Wild & Scenic River protection. It’s likely that Representative Sam Farr will introduce legislation next year to protect the Arroyo Seco and other rivers along the Big Sur Coast. To visit the Arroyo Seco River, take Highway 101 to the Salinas Valley. From the small town of Greenfield, drive west on Arroyo Seco Road to the end of the road (marked by a gate). From there, you can drop down to visit the river or hike up the closed road to a series of cascades and pools in a rocky gorge.

East Fork Carson AutumnEast Carson River

A favorite of rafters and kayakers in the spring, this eastern Sierra river puts on a fantastic color display in the early fall. A 10 mile segment of the East Carson River is a state Wild & Scenic River but someday we hope to protect the entire river on public lands in the federal system. From Lake Tahoe, drive south on Highway 89. Just beyond the town of Markleeville, the highway begins to parallel the East Carson River. At the intersection with Highway 4, you can either continue up the river or turn left on Highway 89 to view the incredible golden aspen display at Monitor Pass.




Deer CreekDeer Creek Autumn

Draining the northern Sierra, this small river parallels much of Highway 32, which offers one of the most scenic fall drives in the mountain range. Deer Creek is also one of the few streams remaining in the Sierra that still supports Chinook salmon, which migrate up the creek in the spring and spawn in early fall. From its intersection with Highway 99 in Chico, drive east on Highway 32 into the mountains. You can park at the first bridge crossing Deer Creek and hike the trail down the creek for several miles or you can continue driving along Highway 32. A few miles upstream of the first bridge crossing, a small and difficult to spot sign notes the location of Upper Deer Creek Falls, which is a short scramble down from the highway.

River Information

Regional Maps

California Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

Scenic Rivers Act FAQ

River Safety Tips

River Gauges

River-Related Environmental Organizations


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