Hell Hole Reservoir

Summer Camping and Boating Updates

Auburn, Calif. – With the arrival of warm weather and Memorial Day weekend, Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) issued its 2022 recreational water release schedule and campground information for its Middle Fork American River Project (MFP).

After a winter season that began with extreme rainfall but was followed by the driest January through March on record, water supply conditions have resulted in a “Below Normal” water year classification. However, through prudent management of MFP reservoirs by PCWA there is adequate storage to support boating recreation this summer without affecting customer’s water supply or hydroelectric energy production of the MFP.

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Recreational Boating Releases

PCWA will begin recreational boating releases on Saturday, May 28 continuing through Friday, September 30.

Releases for the Class IV section (Tunnel Chute Run) of the Middle Fork American River are as follows:

  • May 28 through September 5 (Labor Day): Six days a week Tuesday – Sunday, with the following exceptions:
    o Monday releases will occur on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
    o No Releases on Saturday, June 25 (Western States Endurance Run).
    o No Releases on Saturday, July 16 (Tevis Cup Equestrian Race).
  • September 6 through September 30: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (no releases Mondays or Thursdays).

For each specified rafting day, PCWA will release 1,000 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) from Oxbow Powerhouse on the Middle Fork American River at Indian Bar from 9:00am to noon on weekdays, and 8:00am to noon on weekends. Please note that it takes the high flows about six hours to reach the Ruck-a-Chucky/Drivers Flat area on the Middle Fork American River and about 10 hours to reach the confluence area.

On the days of the Western States Endurance Run and Tevis Cup Equestrian Race, PCWA will release 1,000 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) from the Oxbow Powerhouse from 4:00am to 7:00am to accommodate participant safety and provide afternoon Class II Confluence Run opportunity.

Releases for the Class II section (Confluence Run) of the North Fork American River (from the confluence of the North and Middle Fork American River to China Bar) are as follows:

  • Saturdays: 5/28, 6/11, 6/18, 7/2, 7/23, 8/6, 8/20, 9/3 and 9/17
    For each specified Class II rafting day, PCWA will release 800 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) from Oxbow Powerhouse on the Middle Fork American River at Indian Bar, from 4:00am to 8:00am.

Flows in the Middle Fork American River below Ralston Afterbay Reservoir and Oxbow Powerhouse and the North Fork American River downstream of the confluence are subject to change at any time without notice. Always use caution when recreating in and around the Middle Fork American River and below the confluence.

French Meadows Campgrounds

Campgrounds

Developed campgrounds and picnic areas are located throughout the Middle Fork Project, mostly concentrated around Hell Hole and French Meadows Reservoirs. The campgrounds are owned by PCWA and operated in cooperation by the Unites States Forest Service.

The French Meadows Reservoir area has several campgrounds including: Lewis Campground (40 single family campsites); Coyote Group Campground (4 group sites with capacity up to 50); Gates Group Campground (3 group sites with capacity up to 75); and French Meadows Campground (75 single family campsites). All French Meadows area campgrounds are open and have potable water. Additionally, the French Meadows and McGuire boat ramps at French Meadows Reservoir are open; launch fees are $5.

Closer to Hell Hole Reservoir are Big Meadows Campground (53 single family sites), Middle Meadows Campground (2 group sites with capacity up to 50), and Hell Hole Campground (10 single family campsites). Big Meadows Campground opens Memorial Day weekend, but will not have potable water at this time. Middle Meadows Site 1 is scheduled to open as well, but not Site 2. The Hell Hole Campground will be closed this season due to hazard and downed trees from winter storms. The boat ramp at Hell Hole Reservoir is open and free to launch.

For updated road conditions and recreation facility status, or to reserve a campsite, please contact the Tahoe National Forest, Foresthill Ranger District (530-367-2224), the Eldorado National Forest, Georgetown Ranger District (530-333-4312), or visit recreation.gov.

To learn more about recreational opportunities on the Middle Fork American River, please visit middleforkfun.com.

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