Description - Stretching from Amador County east to Mokelumne Wilderness in Alpine County, Amador Ranger District embraces the spectacular landscape of the Sierra Nevada range. Rolling oak covered foothills give way to rugged slopes painted with impressive stands of pine, cedar, and aspen. Magnificent streams courses the District; the forks of the Carson River dominate the eastern area while Mokeulmne and American Rivers ramble over the western slope. Picturesque alpine lakes populated with rainbow, brook, golden, brown and native cutthroat trout embrace the Lower Bear River Reservoir, Salt Springs Reservoir, Silver Lake and Caples Lake.
- Outdoor lovers who enjoy solitude and serenity amid magnificent scenery venture to Amador Ranger District. Here visitors find a paradise for their outdoor pursuits whether it be backcountry hiking, scenic driving, stream fishing, developed camping, or ATV use, generations have been attracted to the Amador area.
The northern region of the District is a mecca for winter sports. Visitors find full service resorts at Kirkwood, Iron Mountain, Carson Pass, and Meiss, all easily accessed from Highway 88.
Experience some of California's finest fishing holes. The Middle Fork Cosumnes River supports populations of rainbow and brown trout. Catchable rainbow trout are stocked at PiPi Campground twice in the spring to supplement the wild trout production. Rainbow and brown trout are stocked annually in Lower Bear River Reservoir, which has the reputation of being an exception trout fishery. Rainbow trout are stocked in Upper Bear River Reservoir; lake trout have also been caught in this lake. Caples Lake contains brook, brown, rainbow, and lake trout. Tui chub are also present. Blue Lakes is yet another trout destination with sizeable rainbow trout, Eagle Lake trout, cutthroat and brook. Planting is done by the California Department of Fish and Game.
Many of the fine fishing holes have convenient campgrounds. Overnight camping is available at the upper and lower Blue Lakes campgrounds and at Caples Lake Campground. Located at Bear River Reservoir are two developed sites, the South Shore and Bear River Group campgrounds. South Shore Campground has 22 units and is first-come, first-served; Bear River Group has 3 sites accommodating 25-50 people. Dispersed camping is allowed practically anywhere that camping is not specifically prohibited.
One of the most popular destinations on the Amador Ranger District is the 105,165-acre Mokelumne Wilderness that straddles the crest of the central Sierra Nevada and swells into the Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests. It is a striking rugged landscape dominated by volcanic ridges and peaks. The prominent feature is disputably the rugged Mokelumne River Canyon. There are many smaller streams flowing through deep granitic canyons but only a few lakes concentrated in the northern portion of this spectacular area. Elevations range from about 3,900 feet near Salt Springs Reservoir to 10,380 feet at Round Top. Overnight permits required. Day use does not require a permit.
Trails of varying types are found throughout Amador Ranger District. Several popular trailheads include Blue Lakes, Woods Creek, Horse Canyon, and Tanglefoot. Gold Note is a popular ATV site. In general, off-highway vehicles can operate on any designated road or trail as long as it is dry enough to not be damaged and is not in a closed area. Many non-motorized trails are open to hikers, cyclists and equestrian users.
Scenic driving is enjoyed along Carson Pass / Highway 88. Winding its way through the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and crossing the summit at Carson Pass to the eastern slope, this memorable journey logs alpine forests, meadows, sapphire lakes, and volcanic peaks.
Forest maps can be obtained at the Amador Ranger Station.
Recreation - Scenic driving, winter sports, camping, group camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, backcountry travel, nature photography, picnicking, and off-roading are the main attractions to Amador Ranger District.
Climate - A Mediterranean type climate extends over most of the Forest with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Weather can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. Elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This precipitation falls mainly from October through April. At higher elevations, it comes mostly in the form of snow. Winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures above 100 degrees indicate the normal seasonal spread.
Clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity. It is wise to pack for any season with clothing that can be "layered", ready to peel off or add on as the thermometer dictates. Always include some kind of rain gear.
Amador Ranger District is Eldorado's southernmost district bordering the Stanislaus National Forest. The main artery penetrating the District is famed Highway 88.