Rubicon River California Fly Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Rubicon River

The Rubicon River, west of Lake Tahoe, has headwaters in the Desolation Wilderness and flows through canyons and forests, offering outdoor recreational fun for those on a Sierra Nevada vacation. Read More

  • The Rubicon River provides fabulous outdoor recreation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Access the river west of Lake Tahoe off of Highway 50
  • Best times to come are May through September
  • Fish the small brooks above Hell Hole Reservoir
  • Hike the Rubicon Trail for some wilderness adventures


The Rubicon River, in northeastern California and just west of Lake Tahoe, covering a lengthy 60 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With headwaters in the Desolation Wilderness, it flows to Hell Hole Reservoir, into a steep canyon and then to Oxbow Reservoir. Soon thereafter it joins the Middle Fork of the American River. The river is great for fishing and close to superior hiking and 4-wheel driving adventures.

Location & Information

You can access Rubicon River at Hell Hole Reservoir, where tributary streams enter the lake. Although this reservoir is 10 miles west of Lake Tahoe, it doesn’t have direct access. You can get there from 22 miles east of Georgetown by taking Wentworth Springs Road, and then going 29 miles northeast on Forest Highway 2 (Eleven Pines road).

From Lake Tahoe, you can also access Hell Hole Reservoir by taking Ice House Road off of California Highway 50 at Riverton, California, driving to Wentworth Springs Road turning west. Take that to Forest Highway 2 (Eleven Pines Road) then to Hell Hole Road that takes you directly to the Hell Hole Reservoir.

The best season to visit the Rubicon River is from May through September.

Contact information:
Eldorado National Forest
Pacific Ranger District
7887 Highway 50
Pollock Pines, CA 95726


  • Fishing
    Fishing the Rubicon River is very popular, with many premier spots. You’ll find brook trout, rainbows and browns in the little brooks above Hell Hole Reservoir. On the river just above the Oxbow Reservoir, access is easy and you’ll have some privacy. Be sure to study up on the special regulations for fishing this river and nearby streams.
  • Hiking
    The Rubicon Trail is the favorite path to hike in this area. Starting from Loon Lake, you can reach the trail by taking Ice House Road and following the signs. You’ll hike through Rockbound Valley with a backdrop of rugged peaks. Many hike this trail from east to west, but you can hike any section of it in any direction to get a taste of the Sierra Nevada wilderness.
  • 4-Wheel Driving
    The Rubicon Trail is famous for its challenging 4-wheel drive adventures. Climbing to around 6,000 feet and encountering obstacles like Walker Hill, Old Sluice Box and many more, you will see why this trail is rated “most difficult.” It provides some breathtaking excitement.

Fun Facts

The Rubicon River is one of the American River’s main tributaries. This lovely river is fueled by the headwaters of melting snow and lingering creeks that begin their journey high up in the Sierra’s Crystal Mountains, right in the heart of the Eldorado National Forest.

Part of Rubicon Trail was used as a testing ground by Jeep. One model of the Jeep Wrangler is named after this trail.