Nimbus Fish Hatchery

Easy to Locate?

Dog-Friendly?

Easy to Walk?

FREE?

Adequate Parking?

Restroom Facilities?

Yes

Sort Of Yes Yes Yes Yes

You might not think a fish hatchery would be a particularly good place to get a nature walk in, but the Nimbus Fish Hatchery is extraordinary.  Sitting right alongside the American River, the hatchery provides both paved and more “rural” walkways for visitors, and is quickly becoming one of my favorite day-trip destinations.  You can walk through the raceways where the baby fish are (and even feed them if you want to), take a walk through the Visitors Center, walk along the fish ladder and then down to the hillside overlooking the river itself. There are also bike trails running along one edge of the place if you’re so inclined.  Dogs (on a leash) are allowed along the outdoor paths and trails, but are not allowed inside the Visitors Center.  Restrooms can be found inside the Visitors Center, and there’s a small picnic area outside the building as well.

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Along the river, you get views of a variety of birds including Black-Crowned Night Herons, California Gulls, Canadian Geese, Common Mergansers, Double-Crested Cormorants, Glaucous Gulls, Goldeneye Ducks, Grackles, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, Herring Gulls, Mallard ducks, Phoebes, Ring-Billed Gulls, Snowy Egrets, and Sparrows.  Bring a pair of binoculars and see how many you can spot!  Here are some images of the birds:

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In the late fall and winter, you can watch the spawning and egg-gathering of Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout inside the Visitors Center (but get there early in the day or you might miss it).  Follow the hatchery on Facebook to keep apprised of when the spawnings are taking place.  I really appreciate that this hatchery goes the extra mile to keep the public informed this way.  A lot of the other hatcheries around don’t maintain communication with the public in this manner.

Here are some images of the Steelhead spawning:

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How to Get to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery

The hatchery is located at 2001 Nimbus Road, Gold River, CA 95670, phone: (916) 358-2820.  

With thanks to Google Maps for this image.
With thanks to Google Maps for this image.

Take Highway 50 to the Hazel Avenue exit in Gold River (Sacramento County), and follow the signs for the hatchery.  Take Hazel to Gold Country Blvd. and turn LEFT (make sure you’re in the right-most left-turn lane because the hatchery will come up very quickly on your right after your turn).  Once on Gold Country Blvd make a RIGHT on Nimbus Road.  You’ll see a sign marking the entrance to the hatchery.  Be careful as you drive in.  There’s a spot where the biking trail cuts across the road and you’ll need to stop for walking/biking traffic.  Parking in the hatchery’s lot is free.

  • Visitor Center open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturdays/Sundays 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Closed Christmas Day
  • Raceways (fish rearing ponds) open daily 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Walkways along the river are accessible almost all day long (whenever the raceways are open) and can also be accessed via the biking trail.

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