This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I-II
Length 8.2 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 11/12/2019 8:21 pm

River Description

This is a nice class I -II float that is a great alternative to the Sacramento River. Most of this run feels remote and is very pretty. As an added bonus in the late summer and fall, there are often large numbers of salmon in the river.  The class II riffles give those looking for an introduction to moving water some interesting rapids to navigate with minimal hazards.  It is much lower volume than the Sacramento, typically flows are 600 cfs from the fish hatchery to the outlet of the Thermalito Afterbay. Flows below Thermolito return are usually much higher.  Flow levels do not seem to change the difficulty of the run, but higher flows will decrease your travel time. 

The rivers is fairly wide with a number of Class II riffles from the hatchery until after you pass the River Reflections Campground  and boat launch.   Past this point,  the river braids into several channels.  All rapids are Class II and make this section the highlight of the run.



Other Information Sources:   
Oroville-Thermolito Complex: Wikipedia
Feather River Fish Hatchery

Rapid Descriptions

River Bend Park

Class - N/A Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A nice boat launch, easier than putting in at the hatchery.

River Reflections Campground

Class - N/A Mile - 4

Nice put-in if you are looking for a shorter trip.  For a fee they will run your shuttle.

Braided Section

Class - N/A Mile - 5

Several route options.  The right most channel is generally the most straightforward.


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Call (530) 534-2307 for a daily recording of reservoir and river information.  Listen for "Release to Feather River at Oroville" which gives the flows below the Thermolito Diversion Dam into the natural river.

Flows between the fish barrier dam and Thermolito return are approximately 600 cfs year round.   This was established by an agreement between Fish & Game and Dept. of Water Resources in 1983.   Higher flows can occur during flood releases or to satisfy water temperature requirements or similar purposes.   

The main flows of the river are bypassed around this section through the Thermolito powerplant via Thermolito Forebay and Afterbay.  Four canals further divert water from the afterbay for irrigation or other purposes.  Some remaining portion of the water is returned to the river channel below Thermolito Afterbay.   Flow information is available  for the river below the afterbay.

A fire at the Thermalito Powerhouse on Thanksgiving 2012, caused substantial damage that will take years to repair.  Because flows can’t be routed through the forebay and afterbay, the river in this section will see much higher flows until the powerhouse is repaired.  Flows have been ranging from 800 cfs to 4000 cfs.

Total Release to Feather River below Thermolito
Feather River at Gridley

There is not an online gauge for flows in the bypassed reach. Flow information can be found via this flow phone number, 530 534-2307.  On the recording you will hear information about lake levels and inflow to the reservoir.  The number you are looking for is the release to the Feather River at Oroville. 
USGS gauge #11407000 does provide historical information for this reach.  This gauge is located directly above the fish barrier dam. 

Thermolito Powerplant: historical flows are also available for some years.  The powerplant appears to be able to handle up to 14,000 cfs and perhaps more. Other sources indicate that up to 17,000 cfs can be diverted. 

Feather River at Lake Oroville USGS schematic shows gauges and diversion on the Feather in this area.

Directions Description


There are several put-in and take-out options for this run.  To put-in at the fish hatchery, take the Montgomery Street exit off of Highway 70 and turn West towards town.  After passing through the downtown area, take a left at the roundabout and head across the river on Table Mountain Blvd.  After crossing the bridge, take the first right and follow the road down to the hatchery viewing area.  Follow this road back under the bridge.  Upstream of the bridge, you will see a trail to the river. 


If you are looking for a shorter trip, you can put-in at River Bend Park and shave about a mile and a half off of the trip.  You get to River Bend Park by taking the Montgomery Street exit off of Highway 70 and turning West, towards the river.  In the park you will find a nice boat launch and ample parking.


The third option is to put in at the river reflections resort.  This is trims another two miles off the trip.  The resort will charge you to park, for an additional fee they will also run your shuttle. To reach River Reflections Resort,  take the exit at Georgia Pacific Way, this is stoplight South of  Montgomery Street on Highway  70.  Turn left on the frontage road, the resort will be on your right.


  To reach the take out, take Oro Dam Blvd and head West.  In 1.8 miles, take a left on Larkin Road.  IN 3.4 miles, turn left into the Oroville Wildlife Area.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Conservation Groups Release New Report on Oroville Dam Spillway Incident

Evan Stafford

September 19, 2017 – American Whitewater has released a new report, The Oroville Dam 2017 Spillway Incident: Lessons from the Feather River Basin, alongside Friends of the River, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the South Yuba River Citizens League.


Paul Martzen


Dave Steindorf


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213887 11/12/19 Paul Martzen updated description
1213888 11/12/19 Paul Martzen updated description
1203618 08/18/14 Dave Steindorf
1203474 06/16/14 Dave Steindorf
1203473 06/16/14 Dave Steindorf
1203472 06/15/14 Dave Steindorf
1203471 06/15/14 Dave Steindorf
1200066 05/10/11 Paul Martzen added gauges & link
1194683 02/09/07 n/a n/a