About the Forest

About Us

Color graphic indicating the Eldorado National Forest's position in California as near Lake Tahoe on the central eastern state line near the angle.


The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


 “Caring for the Land and Serving People”

The following information has been exerpted from the Eldorado National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. Some data may have changed since the document was written.


The Eldorado National Forest is located in the central Sierra Nevada. Portions of Alpine, Amador, El Dorado, and Placer counties lie within the Forest Boundary. The forest is bordered on the north by the Tahoe National Forest, on the east by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, on the southeast by the Humboldt-Toiyabe, and to the south by the Stanislaus National Forest.

The forest is located within 3 - 4 hours driving time from the San Francisco Bay Area, a metropolitan complex of 4.5 million people. Sacramento is located within 1 - 1 1/2 hours driving time from the forest with a population of over 1,000,000 people. 


A Mediterranean type climate extends over most of the Forest with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters.

  • Annual Precipitation: 40 - 70 inches on average.
  • Precipitation falls mainly from October through April.
  • Temperature Range: 0 degrees in winter to 100 degrees in summer.
  • Snow pack: 5 - 10 feet on average, can be as high as 15 feet.
  • Snow present from December to May at elevations above 6,000 feet.


The Forest ranges in elevation from 1,ooo feet in the foothills to more than 10,000 feet above sea level along the Sierra crest. The mountainous topography is broken by the steep canyons of the Mokelumne, Cosumnes, American, and Rubicon rivers. Plateaus of generally moderate relief are located between these steep canyons.

Land Ownership

A complicated ownership pattern exists. The parcels of Other Ownership (private or other Agency land) are mostly isolated and surrounded on all sides by government land. An opposite pattern occurs outside of the Forest Boundary where several small scattered pieces of National Forest lands are separated from the main body and surrounded by lands of Other Ownership.

  • Gross Acreage: 793,652 acres
  • Other Ownership: 178,615 acres
  • Net Acreage: 615,037 acres

Vegetative Types

The principle vegetative types found on the Forest are woodland, chaparral, mixed conifer, true fir, and subalpine. A wide variety of hardwoods, brush, grasses, and forbs are mixed in with each of these forest types.

  • Commercial Tree Species -- The major commercial Forest species are white fir, red fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, Douglas fir, and incense cedar.


A graphic representation of a small waterfall.

Water is a major resource of the Eldorado National Forest. The average acre on the Forest receives about 56 inches of precipitation annually. Average annual runoff is about 29 inches. This is roughly equal to a yield of 2.4 acre-feet of water per acre of land per year; therefore National Forest lands yield an estimated 1,444,000 acre-feet annually.

  • 611 miles of fishable streams in four major drainage systems. Middle Fork of the American River, including the Rubicon. South Fork of the American River Cosumnes River North Fork of the Mokelumne River.
  • 297 lakes and reservoirs (including both public and private acreage), which total 11,994 surface acres. 11 large reservoirs account for 9,000 acres. The rest are mostly small, high mountain lakes.


The Eldorado has a high density transportation system containing 2,367 miles of roads and 349 miles of trails. Roads under Forest Service jurisdiction total 2,158 miles. There are 209 miles of county roads and another 400 miles of private roads within the Forest boundary.