It might not be summer yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and relax by the water here in Northern California! Lucky for us, we have plenty of river towns here in Northern California that are beautiful year round and even though some of them might have some snow or mud after all this crazy weather we had this winter, it will feel good to soak in the amazing natural scenery to be found.
1. Coloma on the South Fork of the American
The majority of the town of Coloma, population 600, is actually a state park. It's the sight where James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 and sparked the Gold Rush. Now, it's a fun little whitewater town that's sleepy in the winter and lively in the summer. Campgrounds, the preferred lodging in this neck of the woods, are almost completely booked all summer long. Travel here in the spring and you will reap the rewards of visiting in the off season! Most rafting companies and the crowds start arriving mid April.
2. Sacramento on the Sacramento and American Rivers
Our state's capital is located right on the banks of not one, but two rivers. The American, which comes down from the Sierra Nevadas, feeds into the Sacramento River, which runs south from the Shasta area, right where Old Town Sac is located. The urban convergence of these rivers is a pretty cool sight all Northern Californians should see once. In this photo, a beautiful sunrise over the iconic Tower Bridge spans the Sacramento River near downtown.
3. Dunsmuir on the Upper Sacramento River
With its official city slogan, "home of the best water on Earth," it's no doubt that this small Siskiyou County town is one of Northern California's premier river destinations. Outdoor recreation users come to fish, hike, ski, climb, and sightsee. Pictured here is Mossbrae Falls, a wonderful cascade that is best to check out in the spring while it's flow is full.
4. Gualala on the Gualala River
This sleepy little getaway destination is just so fun. There's not a lot to do here besides be out in nature. The town is small but friendly, and the Gualala is this stunning light green color. You can play in it upstream in the forest or follow it down to the beach where it meets up with the Pacific Ocean.
5. Truckee on the Truckee River
This quintessential little mountain town sees more and more visitors each year. The shoulder seasons in the spring and fall are really the most ideal time to just check it out if you have never been there before. There might be a little snow on the ground, especially this season, but the river runs parallel to the main drag and several five star restaurants are just a stone's throw from its banks. Located on the eastern of the crest of the Sierra, the Truckee flows to Nevada and provides much of the Reno area with water when it reaches Pyramid Lake.
6. Oroville on the Feather River
Pictured here: The Oroville State Theatre
The Oroville Dam received a lot of attention this winter when the excess water threatened to spill, but many people not in this region of the state don't know that the four branches of the river converge right here. The beautiful the water of the Feather River is sparkling and clear, supporting a rich range of biodiversity in this area.
7. Nevada City on the South Yuba River
The Yuba is a tributary of the Feather River, contributing about a third of its flow. Nevada City is well known for being one of the most fun places to visit in the Sierra foothills. The dining options are impeccable, there are plenty of bed and breakfasts that are cozy and charming, and the nearby Yuba River makes for great swimming and hiking options close to town.
8. Redding on the Sacramento River
Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay
Sundial Bridge has become an iconic symbol of the city of Redding. It gets hot here, so visitors and residents like to dine and play near the river as much as possible to stay cool There are lovely options for water front dining. If you want to get out of the city, however, nearby hikes to streams and waterfalls like Potem Falls are best here in the spring months.
9. Downieville on the North Fork of the Yuba River
Another outdoor recreation destination, Downieville is a favorite among mountain bikers who consider it one of the best places to ride in Northern California. It's located right on the banks of the North Fork of the Yuba River and was once a Gold Rush town. There are plenty of waterfront lodging options from campgrounds to quaint little inns.
10. Happy Camp on the Klamath River
Pictured here is Happy Camp's Country Store.
Known as "The Heart of the Klamath," Happy Camp is the gateway to the wealth of trails and other opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in this area. It was named by celebratory miners who struck it rich on the banks of the Klamath and declared, "This is the Happiest Day of My Life!" Just the thought of the good times had here over the years will make you smile.
11. Guerneville on the Russian River
Founded by the Guerne family in the 1850s, this town is well known for its close proximity to wine tasting and the redwood forests. Pictured here is the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival, which takes place each summer on the banks of the river.