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An Independent Web Site Dedicated to Enjoyment of the
South Yuba River State Park

Upcoming Events
(Latest update: October 22, 2021)
This page is no longer maintained, but is still useful because many of the events are traditional and continue.

Year's Activities in 2011
Click here for a table of dates for this year's events.
Click here for a short video show of park and docent activities.

Year's Activities in 2010
All text and photos on this website are hereby
 released to the media with credits to Herb Lindberg.

To my knowledge, the video shows linked
from this page play only on Windows PC's.

The South Yuba River State Park is open for enjoyment every day all year long, with a full schedule of special activities starting in the Spring and continuing through the Fall.  Wildflowers begin to appear in mid February and change day by day, so plan to hike the Buttermilk Bend Trail several times from February through May to see them all.  

Docent cross training classes for the SYRSP, Empire Mine, and Malakoff Diggins are held in mid March (see table or paragraphs below for dates, times and places), and then continue for park-specific material at each park.  Call 432-2546 to sign up. Docent-led activities for visitors include bird walks, wildflower walks, basket weaving, gold panning, local history talks, barn tours, bridge tours, and festive celebrations of Bridgeport history at the Spring Festival (April) and Fall Festival (October).  Click here for a short video show of docent activities.

Copy and print the table below and pin it next to your calendar for easy reference. Click here for a printer-ready pdf version of the table.  Click here if you need directions and a map to the park.





Invitational Reception Sunday, March 7 2 pm to 4 pm Visitor Center
Call for reservations

Docent Cross Training

March 17, 18, 19

8:45 am to Noon

Empire Mine

SYRSP-Specific Training

Three Saturdays:
March 20, 27,  Apr 3

9:00 AM to Noon

Visitor Center

Wildflowers, Guided Walksa

Saturday and Sunday,
Every week from March 6 to May 16

11 am to 12:30 pm

North Parking Lot
(Buttermilk Bend       Trailhead)

Birds, Guided Walksb

Six walks, Saturday or Sunday. See below for dates.

8 am or 9 am

North Parking Area
north of river, east of road)

Pine Needle Basket Weaving
Judy Nichols, Instructor

(Watch here for specific date.)

9 AM to Noon

Visitor Center
Call 274-3608 to sign up,
$20 includes materials

Gold Panning Demonstrations

Saturday & Sunday
throughout Summerc

11 am to 1 pm

Gold trough in
Visitor Center Area

Local History Talks,
Barn and Wagons Tours

Saturday & Sunday
throughout Summer

11 am to 2 pm

Visitor Center Area

Spring Festival / Living History

Sunday, April 25

10:30 am to 4 pm

Visitor Center Area

Fall Festival and History Day

Sunday, October 31

11 am to 4 pm

Visitor Center Area

Visitor Center Open

Summer: every day,
   Thurs — Sunday,

11 am to 4 pm

Visitor Center Building

a – Call 432-2546 to arrange mid-week tours (private or school groups)
b – Series given for spring and fall birds.  Watch below for specific dates as seasons approach.
c – Summer = Memorial Day through Labor Day


In more detail ...


Open House and Reception


An invitational reception will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 7 in the Visitor Center.  Reservations are required because of limited space, but all are welcome to call 432-2546 to check availability.  You will meet the ranger staff and volunteers from each park activity, and learn about the programs offered at the park, including: Wildflower Walks, Living History, Gold Panning, Bird Walks, Covered Bridge and Historic Barn Tours, Visitor Center Operations, Park Trails Preservation, and Park Greeters.  You can also join a special tour of the Historic Barn and its wagon collection.


Volunteer Cross Training


New volunteers for the California State Parks Gold Sector, which includes Empire Mine, South Yuba River, and Malakoff Diggin's Parks, now receive cross training for all three parks.  Classes will be held at Empire Mine from 8:45 a.m. to noon on Wednesday March 17, Thursday March 18, and Friday March 19.  Call the Gold Sector Office at 530-273-3884 or South Yuba River SP at 530-432-2546 to make reservations.


SYRSP-Specific Volunteer Training


Classes for activities specific to the South Yuba River State Park will be given in the Visitor Center on three consecutive Saturdays: March 20, March 27,  and April 3, from 9 a.m. to noon.  These classes are very informative and given by invited experts in each area of docent activity: Bridgeport history, birds and animals, gold rush history, trails, river ecology, wildflowers, interpretive techniques, and more.  Each participant receives a notebook filled with unique information about the park which docents will interpret for visitors.


Wildflower Walks at Bridgeport


Wildflower Walks will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from March 6 through May 16 at the South Yuba River State Park, Bridgeport. Meet at 11:00 a.m. in the north parking lot near the Buttermilk Bend trailhead.  The guided walks last about 1  hours and are free to the public.  Wear good walking shoes and carry water.  Dogs cannot be accommodated on the walks.  A profusion of flowers vary throughout the season on this gentle trail.  We recommend that you look at the grouping of wildflowers by dates of first bloom (early, mid-season, and late) so you don't miss seeing your favorites.  Click here for pictures and descriptions of wildflowers in the park.  Click here to see a video slide show of these wildflowers.


Group tours may be arranged during the week for a small fee.  For more information contact the Ranger Station at (530) 432-2546.

Spring and Fall Bird Walks at Bridgeport

Bill Cortright, bird walks coordinator at the park, will lead several bird walks on the following dates in 2010:

Sunday, Jan. 24 at        8:00 a.m.
Saturday, Feb 27 at      9:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 20 at  8:00 a.m.
About 5 additional walks are planned but not yet scheduled.

Meet in the north parking area (north side of the river and east side of Pleasant Valley Road). Bring your binoculars, water, and a good pair of walking shoes.  Each walk will be less than 2 hours on easy trails.  Call 432-2546 with questions.

Bill will be scouting out the birds beforehand and expects to see, and hear, the Canyon Wren, Phainopepla, Spotted Towhee, American Dipper, Hermit Thrush, Acorn Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, Ruby Crowned Sparrow and many other familiar and not-so-familiar birds.  Click here for pictures and calls of a few birds found at Bridgeport.

Basket Weaving Classes
(Watch this page for specific dates in Spring and Fall)
Spring class: Saturday, TBD
9 a.m. to noon in the Visitor Center

Two or three times each year Judy Nichols gives a pine needle basket weaving class in the Visitor Center at Bridgeport.  Judy is an accomplished artist whose baskets have been featured in exhibits in Reno (on display at the Gene Speck Silver Art Gallery) and elsewhere. A donation of $20 to the South Yuba River Park Association is required for materials. Space is limited: call Judy at her home to reserve a spot, 274-3608.  Click here for a picture of Judy in Maidu costume with her work.

Spring Festival / Living History Day 
Sunday, April 25, 2010,  10:30 a.m. -- 4 p.m.

Each year special events are added to living history conversations with folks in period costumes. In 2008 and 2009 a "mountain man" encampment was set up near the Visitor Center.  These living history players staked their tents the evening before the event and lived throughout the night and day just as hunters and trappers did during the Gold Rush era.  They cooked by campfire, chatted with visitors, displayed their tools and guns, and even threw a hatchet or two into a log slab target and shot arrows. We hope they will join the festival again in 2010.

Three musical groups will play all day as they circulate around the bridge, barn, and visitor center areas.  As always, the park history players will tell stories of Wood's bridge, the Kneebone barn, and the Virginia Turnpike which passes through the bridge an on to Kneebone cemetery. The barn will be open to allow visitors a close look at eleven gold rush era wagons and a hay press, some as old as 150 years.

All the while, others will demonstrate blacksmithing, pine needle basket weaving, and the old Kneebone Shell gas station, and tell stories at the cemetery.  Of course the gold panning troughs will be in full swing with real gold for all who learn panning techniques. Horse-drawn wagons will carry visitors along the Virginia Turnpike and across the covered bridge (if it is safety certified in time).  Hot dogs, ice cream, and other goodies will keep tummies happy.

Click here for pictures of the 2009 Spring Festival.  Click here to see the announcement of 2008 activities, thumbnail pictures of representative works by the artists, and thumbnail pictures from a previous year's Living History Day.  Click here to see a video slide show of 2007 Living History Day activities and representative art works displayed in 2008.

Bridgeport Fall Festival
Sunday, October 25, 2009,  11 a.m. -- 4 p.m.

As in years past, docents in period costumes play rolls of Bridgeport historical characters as they tell of their lives and adventures during the Gold Rush era. This was called the "Ghosts of Bridgeport Pageant" and was accompanied by horse-drawn wagon rides over the bridge, blacksmiths, basket weaving, gold panning, hot dogs, ice cream, tours of the bridge, barn and historic wagons, and music all day.  Starting in 2008 activities have been expanded to include all the above plus games for children of all ages.  Call the park at 432-2546 for the latest word on events.  Click here for photos from the 2009 festival.

(Posted February 22, 2009)
Click here for a KNCO interview about events in spring 2009

Auto Tour of the Historic Virginia Turnpike at Bridgeport : Click to read the announcement and view past auto tours, and then spread the word about this unique opportunity for park visitors.