Trip Ideas

Man jumping into the Yuba River Swimming Holes

Yuba River Swimming Holes – Do’s & Don’ts

The South Yuba River is well known for its clear swimming holes in a picturesque setting of granite rocks. Before you visit this beautiful place, follow some essential tips so you can return home, happy and alive.

Tips & Resources

Especially in the early & mid season the snow melt can make the Yuba River Flow incredibly dangerous. Don’t be a statistic. If it looks dangerous instead hit up one of our pools or alpine lakes listed below.

If you do visit the South Yuba River please read the SYRCL tips & tricks page to learn where to access and how to access the water.

By Laura Petersen

The sun is out and you’re dreaming of a leisurely day by the water. You’re in luck. A plethora of epic opportunities await in Nevada County! At different times of the year, all it takes is a little planning and a nature-loving courteous attitude. But a day that was supposed to be fun at one of the Yuba River Swimming Holes can quickly become deadly. We understand that it’s hot out, but we ask you to play it safe and don’t become a statistic. To help ensure you, your friends and your family return home, here are a few places that you can enjoy based on the season.

First Rule – Avoid Second-Guessing

Snowmelt is real and can quickly become deadly in the Sierra Nevada and its foothills. By doing your homework and checking conditions first before planning your day, you’ll ensure maximum safety and peace of mind (so you can relax and enjoy yourself). AND – ding! ding! You’ll gain mega points from the locals for being a smart visitor.

Follow The Leave No Trace Mantra

As always, remember everything you pack in, you’ll need to pack out. Please use Reef Safe sunblock to keep our waters pristine, leave the alcohol at your lodging facility, and don’t bring glass, fire, trash, or dog poop to our beloved beaches. We hold these places with deep reverence and expect every visitor to honor and pay the same respect.

Early May & June

If you decide to plan a trip in the spring or early summer in Nevada County when snow melt is rushing dangerously fast, cold and high, we suggest looking at the South Yuba River from afar and then visiting one of our local public pools to cool off. Lifeguards, snack bars, lounge chairs – what’s not to love? InnTown Campground is located just minutes from downtown Nevada City offering RAD tent, RV, & glamping opportunities, AND a pool.

Nevada City Pool

Ideally located in the beautiful Pioneer Park, the Nevada City Pool is open 7 days a week, all summer long.

Learn more.

Memorial Park Pool (Grass Valley)

Recently renovated, the Memorial Park Pool is just a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown restaurants, shops, and lodging as well as Empire Mine State Park.

Learn more.

Truckee Community Pool

Opened in 2016 and managed by the Truckee Donner Parks & Recreation District, this 26,000-square-foot facility includes a competition lap pool.

Learn more.

June & July

Scotts Flat Lake

Note: For summer 2024 boating season Scotts Flat Lake water levels will drop significantly below average. For more information, see Damaged PG&E infrastructure impacts NID water supply – Nevada Irrigation District

Dock with kayaks at Scotts Flat Lake
Image appears courtesy: Nevada Irrigation District

Managed by Nevada Irrigation District, Scotts Flat Lake is located at an elevation of 3,000 feet in the pines and offers pretty views. The campground is an outdoor destination with miles of recreation trails nearby, so you may want to reserve a camp and stay awhile. Every weekend, starting Memorial Day through mid-August, Mountain Recreation rents kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from a kiosk at the Day Use Area from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 530-477-8006 to confirm availability.

Learn more.

Rollins Lake

Note: For summer 2024 boating season Rollins Lake water levels will drop significantly below average. For more information, see Damaged PG&E infrastructure impacts NID water supply – Nevada Irrigation District

Managed by Nevada Irrigation District, Rollins Lake sits at 2,100-feet elevation in the Sierra foothills off Highway 174 between Grass Valley and Colfax. Four independently operated campgrounds offer a complete range of services including stores, restaurants, and rentals. Why not book a stay?

Learn more.

August & September

South Yuba River

Highway 49 Crossing during the late season
Image appears courtesy: South Yuba River Citizens League

By this time of year, typically the rush of the cold spring melt has reduced, and you can begin to enjoy the Yuba River swimming holes. Designated as Wild & Scenic, the South Yuba River is a gem of Western Nevada County. Please help us keep her beautiful. Home to South Yuba River State Park, Bridgeport covered bridge and visitor center, and miles of trails, the river is our pride and joy. It can also be extremely crowded with limited parking during the summer months, and in recent years has become threatened with being loved to death.

Love The Yuba By Respecting It

South Yuba River Citizens League has worked tirelessly since 1983 to defend and protect this place and has put together a list of tips and resources for a safe and fun river experience. We are counting on you to be a good steward by parking responsibly, picking up after your pet, not starting fires, packing out what you pack in, and leaving the glass and booze at home.

No Cell Service – So Come Prepared

There is no cell service in the river canyon so be prepared for emergencies. Wear sturdy walking shoes, know the dangers of heat stroke, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and stay safe. Do not get into the water when snow melt is flowing and water is running treacherously cold, fast, and deadly. Rocks are slippery.

Learn more.

Donner Lake

Donner Lake From McClashan Point
Image taken by: J.Smith BY CC 3.0

Located on the West Shore of Donner Lake, West End Park Beach is a 12-acre day-use beach managed by Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks District. American Red Cross Certified Lifeguards supervise the designated swim area during the summer months. Cold water with stunning Sierra Nevada views! Please no dogs, glass, or smoking. Picnic sites are by reservation only. Donner State Park, miles of recreation trails, and Donner Pass and Old Historic Highway 40 are worthy side trips.

Learn more.


Laura Petersen

Laura Petersen has a passion for storytelling and for two decades has chronicled the people and places of Northern California. Fascinated by folk who make a rustic livelihood from the land, her writing examines the complexities of human relationships with nature through topics such as sustainability, food and farming, arts & culture and outdoor recreation. In 2018, she founded Hiking For Good and can regularly be found hiking on trails in Nevada County. Read her work at and contact her at

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