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East Carson River


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The East Carson River is fed by the melting snows from the Sierra Nevada, flowing eastward for more than 57 miles through California and into the Nevada desert. The river is considered only one of two major eastern Sierra streams that are free flowing and un-dammed over much of their length.

The East Carson transitions through a visually and biologically distinctive mosaic of vegetation; from high alpine meadows, to sub-alpine fir and white pine forests, to the dominant eastside forests of Jeffrey pine, and then to the pinyon-juniper-sagebrush ecosystem of the true desert. A diverse assemblage of wildlife species, including mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, golden eagles, and Canada geese, live in the river canyon. The river also provides habitat for the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout, as well as trophy-sized non-native rainbow and brown trout prized by anglers.

An extensive network of backcountry trails for hikers, backpackers, anglers, hunters, and equestrians is found along the upper river in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Kayakers and rafters enjoy the lower river's gentle class II rapids, as well as its outstanding scenery and river-side hot springs. The East Carson has extensive Native American cultural values associated with the Washoe tribe. The river was named after Kit Carson, who explored the area with John C. Fremont in 1844.

The Forest Service considered the entire river from its source to the former Ruhenstroth diversion dam just south of Gardnerville, Nevada, to be eligible for National Wild & Scenic status in recognition of its outstanding scenic, recreational, fishery, and wildlife values. This led to this river recieving Wild and Scenic River Protection status in 1989.

How To Get There

East Carson Locator Map

Take Hwy 89 south from Lake Tahoe, past the town of Markleeville, to the rafters access point at Hangman's Bridge. Driving further south on Hwy 89 and then west on Hwy 4 provides access to Carson-Iceberg Wilderness trailheads.

Recreation And Visitor Information
For information on trails and other recreational opportunities, contact the Forest Service's Carson Ranger Station at 1536 S. Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89701, phone: (702) 882-2766.

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