American River Bend Park

The American River Bend Park is a riparian- and oak-forest  area with lots of nature trails and some overnight camping areas.  It’s also buttressed by paved bike paths, and is adjacent to the  William B. Pond Recreation Area (which has manicured lawns, large picnic areas, and a large pond for viewing local aquatic birds.)  The two areas are joined by a long bridge which provides some great views of the American River.

  • Easy to Locate? Yes
  • Pet Friendly? Yes. Dogs MUST be on a leash.
  • Easy to Walk? Yes. Paved walkways and well-maintained trails. Zero to very little elevation gain.
  • Is there a Fee? Yes. You can get a day-pass at the kiosk by the front gate or get an annual pass which is good for all Sacramento County parks along the American River Parkway.
  • Are there Restrooms? Yes. At various locations throughout the park
  • Is there Accessible Parking? Yes.
  • Other Notes: One of Mare’s favorite go-to places. There’s something different to see in every season. It is a “nursery” for the endemic California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta.

See my FLICKR account for more albums of photos taken at this location throughout the last several years.

Walkers can enjoy this dog-friendly and horse-friendly park year-round.  Paths and roads can get a little “lumpy” in the wet season, so walk and drive carefully.  Some of the trails prohibit bikers, so those of us who walk don’t have to deal with “traffic”.  You can take the trails that go through the riparian areas (Mare’s favorite) and provide you with some great views of the American River along the way, or you can take trails into the oak forest/chaparral areas.

Regular “guests” include deer, wild turkeys, ducks, geese, egrets and herons, Western Blue Birds, Acorn Woodpeckers, Tree Swallows, hawks and vultures, jack rabbits, moles, snakes, foxes and coyotes… so keep your camera primed at all times.  You never know what you’ll encounter.

What you see changes with the season

WINTER: In the winter months you can get photos of a large variety of mushrooms and fungi (in colors ranging from white to yellow, to brown, to red, purple and even black), and can also get some photos of ice (in the early morning hours), fog and heavy dew.

SPRING: The are a variety of wildflowers to see, along with a variety of pollinators including the endemic California Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, Tussock Moth caterpillars, native bees, and White-Lined Sphinx Moths.

SUMMER: You should be able to see a wide variety of galls on the oak trees, willows and goldenrod plants. And this is time of year when many fawns are being born.

FALL: Lots of waterfowl migrate along the river this time of year, and this is also the season when the male deer are in rut. Wild Turkeys can also be seen “strutting” for females right around November.

How to Get to the Park

  • Take Highway 50 East to the Bradshaw Road (Exit 13).  
    • The off-ramp will split into 4 lanes; 2 going left and 2 going right.  You’ll want to get into the right-most left turn lane.
  • Turn LEFT onto Bradshaw, and stay in the right-most lane.  Take Bradshaw to Folsom Blvd.
  • Turn RIGHT onto Folsom Blvd. On Folsom Blvd. get into the left-most lane.
  • Take Folsom Blvd. past light light at Horn, to Rod Beaudry Drive.
  • Turn LEFT onto Rod Beaudry Drive.  
    • This is a residential area, so you’ll have to slow down to 25 MPH.  The road empties right into the main entrance of the park.
    • Pay for your day pass at the kiosk.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist