Iowa Hill

Placer County’s Most Nail-Biting, Hair Raising Ride

Iowa Hill, CA – Adrenaline crazed, white knuckles, hair raising turns and simply scared out of your pants. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Iowa Hill SignIowa Hill Road leads up to a small, isolated community in Placer County. Perched just under 3,000 feet in elevation, Iowa Hill is located about 40 miles northeast of Roseville, but a world apart. Getting there by car is an epic adventure and not for the faint of heart.

An approximately 5-mile stretch of this narrow and winding road slices precipitously above the North Fork of the American River. Remain extremely focused as this barely more than one lane wide weaving road that serves two-way traffic is not a place for the slightest of mistakes.

Death Defying Cliffs

Be prepared to blare your horn as you encounter the unknown in tight twisting turns that will literally have you on the edge of death defying cliffs that plunge over 100 stories below. We took the ride in an SUV (not wise) and continuously worried what we’d do if we encountered traffic in the other direction. There’s little room to navigate and passengers looking out their windows see little to no pavement. For motorcyclists, we imagine this to be a majestic and less stressful ride.

Sugar Pine Reservoir

In any event, for those that enjoy great scenery in rural Placer County and don’t mind adding a few gray hairs to get there, Iowa Hill Road is an epic drive you’ll never forget. Guaranteed.

Alternate Route or Loop

If you have the time, and to avoid backtracking, consider continuing on Iowa Hill Road which turns into Sugar Pine Rd until you reach Foresthill Rd. This will loop you back to Route 80, by way of the confluence. A less thrilling experience, but scenic route nevertheless.


En route, you will pass Mineral Bar Campground, which is situated by the bridge where the road crosses over the North Fork. The California Department of Parks and Rec site notes “There are 16 designated campsites with tables, firepits, and dry toilets. No drinking water is available.” Mineral Bar Campgrounds looks like a beautiful spot to get away for a few day. Campsites are $28 per night.

Sugar Pine Reservoir

Located 7 miles north of Foresthill and opened in 1985, the Sugar Pine Reservoir provides a 4 recreation areas including campgrounds, boat ramp, hiking trails, picnic area, swimming beach, along with a trailer dump station.

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