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High on the western slope of the Sierra, near the headwaters of the American and Rubicon Rivers, lies a pristine, relatively undiscovered area; French Meadows Reservoir and Hell Hole Reservoir, owned and operated by PCWA, attract outdoor enthusiasts who want to get away to enjoy uncrowded natural beauty. Snowbound in the winter, the reservoirs and surrounding area are generally accessible from Memorial Day weekend through early October.

Lake View Campsite at French Meadows Reservoir


French Meadows Reservoir is located 50 miles east of Auburn, via the twisting, turning Mosquito Ridge Road. It’s another 10 miles to Hell Hole Reservoir. The reservoirs date to 1963-66 when they were built as part of the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project, which created additional water supplies and a valuable hydroelectric power generation system for Placer County.

French Meadows Reservoir, near the headwaters of the Middle Fork American River, is a large 1,408 acre reservoir. Campground and boat launch facilities are located around the lake and along the Middle Fork American River upstream from the reservoir.

French Meadows Area Campgrounds:
  • French Meadows Family Campground
  • Lewis Family Campground
  • Gates Group Campground
  • Coyote Group Campground
French Meadows Remote Sites:
  • Ahart Campground (one mile upstream)
  • Talbot Campground (three miles upstream)
  • Poppy Campground (north shore hike or boat access)

For current fees and/or more information contact the U.S. Forest District at 530-367-2224 or visit online at For reservations, call the National Forest Reservation System at 1-800-280-CAMP or visit them online at

Hell Hole Area Campgrounds:
  • Big Meadows Campground (4 miles from reservoir)
  • Hell Hole Campground (1 mile from reservoir)
  • Middle Meadows Group Campground
Hell Hole Remote Site:
  • Upper Hell Hole Campground (5 mile hike)

For current fees and/or more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Georgetown Ranger District at (530) 622-5061 or visit online at

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