So you’re coming to the area to visit and go white water rafting in California and looking for things to do in Coloma, California. We have compiled a list of our favorite things to do between white water rafting trips while you are in the area!
Visit Marshall Gold Discovery Park! This site will be seen from the river if you raft on the South Fork of the American River Chili Bar stretch. While it is always amazing and highly suggested to visit on Living History Days the park is a must-see whenever you come to the Lotus and Coloma area. The Gold Discovery Park Association states, “In 1848, James W. Marshall found shining flecks of gold in the tailrace of the sawmill he was building in partnership with John Sutter. This discovery changed the course of California’s and the nation’s history. See a replica of the original sawmill and over 20 historic buildings including a mining exhibit, Chinese store exhibits and schoolhouse exhibit.” If you are feeling inspired by the discovery of Gold that sparked the California Gold Rush, you can also learn to pan for gold during your visit and keep what you find!
The American River is vast in its reaches, with gorgeous scenery including canyons, forests, creeks, boulders, and pools. While our river is known around the world for its iconic white water rafting, the fishing here is arguably one of the South Fork’s best-kept secrets. The river runs crisp and cool, making it absolutely perfect for trout! The American River is stocked by the California Department of Fish and Game every year with catchable rainbow trout to supplement the wild population. The South Fork also contains non-game species including the Sacramento pikeminnow, the Sacramento sucker, the California roach, the Kokanee Salmon, and riffle sculpin, in addition to the brown and rainbow trout. The rainbows average in length from 10 to 12 inches. The primary fish being caught are roughly 80% rainbow trout and 20% brown trout. The highly coveted, ‘Hogs,’ or large brown trout, in the area can grow up to 8 pounds in size! The fish most frequently caught are rainbows between 10 and 12 inches in length. Every year at the James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, the California Department of Fish and Game releases catchable rainbow trout from the opening of trout season in April into summer. Non-game fish in the river include the Pike Minnow, Sucker Fish, California Roach and Riffle Sculpin. In 1998, Kokanee Salmon were introduced in Folsom Lake and some of these landlocked fish make the run as far upstream as the Chili Bar dam. According to The Best Fishing In America Blog, all forks of the American River are the domain of fly fishermen. Deep pools are best waded into during early morning and late afternoon, always wearing a life jacket, but shore fishing is also very popular. We find that weekdays tend to have the best catches, as the traffic is slower and the river is a little lower. The best fishing on the South Fork is between the Chili Bar Dam and Coloma, as well as below Greenwood Creek down to Salmon Falls. There is public river access at James Marshall Gold Discovery Park, Henningsen Lotus Park, Greenwood Creek and Cronan Ranch, and you can always fish from our Camp as well.
The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The fishing season on all forks of the American River is:
- Last Saturday in April through November 15th with a limit of 5 trout per day and 10 trout in possession
- November 16th through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April and only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. No trout may be taken (catch and release).
Need Fishing Equipment?
While rentals aren’t available locally, Mosquito Creek Outfitters located at 3000 Mosquito Rd, Placerville, CA 95667 has everything you could want for your fishing needs. With kid’s poles starting at $15.00 and inventory including professional quality gear, they are sure to have anything you could need in stock and ready for you.
White water rafting near Lake Tahoe is known to get the blood pumping, and adrenaline rushing! What’s less well known, is that there are so many great options for adventure seekers to engage in when they aren’t white water rafting! For those looking to explore the local area and trails, with a little more adrenaline than found on foot, mountain biking may be the perfect addition to your visit. There are a number of trails from the less technical Cronan Ranch to the complex and challenging South Fork American River Trail. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring your own bike, you can check out the locally owned Sam’s Town Cyclery and they will get you hooked up with any equipment necessary!
Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition (FATRAC) – This mountain biking group has three goals: maintain local trails, keep the public informed and ride. Site has info on group rides, trail maps, trail work parties, club meetings, photos of rides, advocacy issues and quarterly newsletter.
Mike’s Favorite Mountain Bike Rides – Includes a description and photographs of a 16-mile out and back trail ride from Salmon Falls Road down to Salmon Falls Bridge, plus links to many northern California rides.
Motherlode Trails Bike Club – Mother Lode Trails is YOUR local volunteer-run trail information and resource website. Find up-to-the minute trail alerts, links and trail news for Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado, Yuba and Nevada counties.
Watch a Play at the Famous Imagination Theater
For little theater fans Placerville’s Imagination Theater is a must see when in the area. The talent here is big, and the shows are great for people of all ages. Make sure to check box office and showtimes to plan accordingly.
The Placerville area is well known in California for its prestigious yet approachable wines. With tasting room’s relaxed atmospheres and charming staff, vineyards are a great place to relax after an exciting trip on the river. Many are kid and pet friendly as well. Boeger winery is one of our favorites for a beautiful ambiance and delectable wines.
Step Back In Time and Visit Gold Bug Park and Mine!
Gold Bug Park and Mine stands as it did long ago in the gold rush era. This actual mine offers self-guided tours which last between 2 and 3 hours. After a tour, check out the museum to learn about California history and the Gold Rush. Keep the fun going by learning to pan for real gems. The gem panning trough here offers a chance to learn how local folks made their earnings many moons ago, and offers you the chance to keep what you find!