What a winter we had! After five long years of drought conditions, Mother Nature took a U-turn, packing a winter wallop that we haven’t seen for years. Some nearby ski resorts have announced they will stay open until July thanks to the record-breaking snowfall in the mountains. Streams, rivers, and lakes are full, waterfalls and wildflowers are going crazy, and the rolling hills are lush and green again.  There has never been a better time to enjoy the great outdoors in El Dorado. We’ve put together some of our most popular past times following a wild and wet winter.



Whitewater rafting

Hang on, it’s going to be a wild ride in the spring. With the high-water flows, the rafting season will begin earlier in the spring and extend later into fall. If you want to experience the thrill of higher flows, book early in the season. Beautiful wildflowers and rushing side creeks are some of the things we look forward to in wet years, and which make for spectacular boating. Choose a professional outfitter that is experienced and prepared for the high water in the spring. July through August is a good time for families, friends, or first-timers, offering that perfect blend of exhilarating adventure, amazing scenery, and relaxation seven days a week.

panning for gold

Gold panning

This unusually wet winter makes conditions prime for gold panning!  It’s an exciting time for gold hunters because the heavy rains and resulting flooding had displaced earth and scoured away rocks that have hidden gold for centuries. The best prospecting in 20 years will come in the summer months when the water has receded. Here’s a link to a map of public land perfect for gold panning. For beginners and those looking for a money-back guarantee we suggest Marshall Gold Discovery Park. Here you’ll get a panning lesson from the park docent, and in under an hour, you’ll leave with a vial containing at least a few flakes of real gold. Gold Bug Park & Mine offers gem panning for a nominal fee.

rushing water at the American River

Waterfall & wildflower hikes

There is no better way to appreciate the wonders wrought by water than to take one of the several spectacular waterfall hikes that El Dorado County has to offer. Normally reserved for a springtime activity, this year the awe-inspiring waterfalls will be on display well into the summer months. Here are just a few of the storm-fed gifts left by winter.

  • Cascade Falls is probably one of the best short hikes you can do in the Emerald Bay area. It is only 1.5 miles round trip to the top of the falls with great views of Cascade Lake and, of course, Lake Tahoe! The waterfall is about 200 feet and is very impressive.
  • Upper & Lower Eagle Falls – Eagle Falls is located 22 miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89, at Emerald Bay. You have two hiking options, including an easy and short (half-mile round trip) hike to the top of the beautiful 25-foot falls or slightly more difficult hike down to the bottom of the 150-foot impressive lower falls.
  • Park Creek Waterfall – For an easy hike to the Park Creek Waterfall enter Sly Park at the main entrance and keep left at the fork in the road. From there proceed to the end of the park road and park at Hazel Creek Meadow. You’ll see a small footbridge across Hazel Creek, and it’s about a one-mile hike to the waterfall.