The American River

The American River has 3 forks, the North, Middle and South.

The South Fork begins in the El Dorado National Forest south of Lake Tahoe and runs 90 miles before joining the North and Middle Forks at Folsom Lake. The South Fork has mostly private property along its banks. American River Resort is private; the river flows past it in a wide bend.

In 1848, the South Fork of the American River captured world attention when gold was discovered in its stream bed, just downstream from American River Resort at Sutter’s Mill. This discovery sparked the California Gold Rush of 1849, the largest human migration since the Crusades. Eventually, miners used powerful hydraulic pumps to move layers of rocks and silt along the river, creeks and streams adjoining the American River. Today, you can still find huge trenches and mounds of rocks created by miners 150 years ago.

The American River is known for its scenic vistas, verdant canyons, forested ridges, massive rock formations, trails, backcountry adventuring, fishing and whitewater rafting. The efforts of government agencies and public and private organizations combine to protect the American River, preserve its water quality, natural habitats and recreational lands.