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Willow Creek Campground :: Attractions

17548 Highway 49         Camptonville, CA 95922        530.288.0646        877.901.7191

The Empire Mine is the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. In existence for more than 100 years, the mine produced 5.6 million ounces of gold before it closed in 1956. The park contains many of the mine’s buildings, the owner’s home and restored gardens, as well as the entrance to 367 miles (the distance, as the crow flies, from Grass Valley to Magic Mountain) of abandoned and flooded mine shafts. The park consists of forested backcountry and eight miles of trails - including easy hikes (for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding) - in the park.

Panning for Gold


Willow guests staying at the campground can learn the intricacies of gold panning on Saturday mornings between 10 and 12 noon ($10 adults & teens). Call 530-288-0646 to make arrangements. There’s gold in Willow Creek not to mention the branches of the River! No charge for kids tagging along with adults.

49 miles on Highway 49

A Guide to the California Scenic Byway


The 49 miles along Highway 49 described on these pages is one of the most scenic and historically rich sections of this beautiful highway. The route will take you through quaint, small towns, historic mining areas, along one of the truly beautiful rivers of Northern California, and show you some of the rich history contained within the hills and mountains of rural California.


Starting from either end, visit the historic stops along the highway. Learn about the miners and ranchers of the area, what they did and how they did it. Learn about the Indians who lived here prior to the influx of miners in 1849. Read more...

A Water Wonderland in the Sierras

South Fork of the Yuba River

The 65.0-mile-long (104.6 km) South Yuba River originates at Donner Pass at the crest of the Sierra Nevada, near the town of Soda Springs. Gathering numerous snowfed tributaries, it runs west through a marshy, lake-filled valley, shadowed by Interstate 80. The river then flows into Lake Spaulding, which is formed by Spaulding Dam. After escaping from the dam the river plunges northwards into a steep-sided valley. Canyon Creek enters from the right, then Poorman Creek also from the right near the town of Washington. The river continues west into the foothills, crossing under State Route 49. Its mouth is on the east shore of Englebright Lake, formed by a dam across the Yuba River.

The North fork of the Yuba River

The North Yuba River, 61.0 miles (98.2 km) long, rises near the eastern border of the Tahoe National Forest, on a mountainside along California State Route 49. It flows southwest then west through a 3,000-foot-deep (910 m) canyon past the small villages of Downieville, where it receives the Downie River, and Goodyears Bar. It then incorporates the flow of Canyon Creek and Slate Creek, two of its main tributaries, and very soon after widens into New Bullards Bar Reservoir, which is impounded by the 645-foot (197 m) New Bullards Bar Dam. Very soon after leaving the dam it joins with the Middle Yuba to form the Yuba River.

North Fork near Camptonville
North Fork near Camptonville


North Fork Yuba River
By Walt Simmons


The upper North Fork is a classic freestone river that runs next to Highway 49 for approximately thirty miles, a truly scenic stretch that is among the most beautiful drives in California. read more...

Fishing Bullards Bar Resevoir




Year-Round Fishing is available at Bullards Bar Reservoir. A variety of cold and warm water species are abundant with a reputation as having some of the best Kokanee Salmon fishing and Bass fishing in northern California.

Willow Creek Campground  is a privately owned facility located within Tahoe National Forest. Online Forest Service maps reveal the many lakes, rivers, creeks and buttes in the area. Visit The Yuba River Ranger District on Highway 49 in Camptonville for more information or call them at (530) 288-3231.

At Higher Elevations...

Sierra Buttes are 40 miles east of Willow Creek Campground.

Just under an hours drive from Willow Creek, the 8,587-foot (2,617 m) granite peak of Sierra Buttes, near Sierra City, has views of Mount Lassen and Mount Shasta. From the fire lookout tower, visitors can see

several of the 40 lakes that comprise the Sierra Butte Lakes Basin.

An amazing section of the Pacific Crest Trail traverses the peaks amoungst many other well marked hiking trails.


An hour and half drive from Willow Creek Campground, Sierra Hot Springs is a great place to soak up the fresh mountain air.

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