I’m low-key obsessed with visiting all the natural swimming holes and natural hot springs in California. Yankee Jim’s swimming hole is a super fun one. Where else can you swim underneath the tallest suspension bridge in the state?!
In this post I’m sharing SUPER important info you need to know before visiting Yankee Jim’s so you don’t die (seriously) along with directions, photos & tips on fun things to do in the area after you swim.
Yankee Jim’s Swimming Hole: Must-Know Tips For Finding This Hidden Gem
>> Got a question about Yankee Jim’s that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
I live in San Francisco but one of my best friends lives in Sacramento so we use her house as a base to explore the Sierra Foothills a lot. We’ve visited the Auburn Confluence a few times but itching to find a new swimming hole along the American River. Enter: Yankee Jim’s swimming hole!
IMPORTANT! SAFETY TIPS!
Before I dive into directions to the swimming hole, I need to stress two things that aren’t talked about in other blog posts & Instagram posts about this Northern California swimming hole. First, in case you are totally new to being outside, please pack out your trash. Don’t leave your bud light cans for Mother Nature to deal with. Don’t vandalize the area. Basically, don’t be a dick ok?
Second, the dirt road down to the swimming hole and bridge is incredibly dangerous. It’s a 3-mile gravel road on the side of a mountain with no safety railing. Locals like to speed on it and whip around the blind corners (which is why over 89 people have died in crashes on this road!) So go slow, honk when you come around corners in case there’s a car and be SAFE.
Don’t block the road with your car, if the lot is full go home and try again. Don’t go at night. Don’t drink and drive. Do NOT start a campfire as this is a one-way road and the fire department can’t easily access it. You could start a wildfire. I wouldn’t bring children here as the current is can be strong here in places and they could drown. You can rock jump here at your own risk.
How To Get To Yankee Jim’s Swimming Hole
Screenshot this page so you can reference this while driving down!
- Plug Yankee Jim’s Bridge into your Google Maps. There’s no service down there, so make sure to download your maps for offline use!
- You know you found the right place when you hit Yankee Jims Road. Now starts the dangerous part of the drive. This is a 3.6-mile gravel road that’s narrow, has blind corners and no safety railings. Drive slow.
- If cars are coming, pull off at a wider area of the road so they can safely pass.
- Keep driving until you come across the bridge. It does support cars but I was too chicken to drive over. You don’t need to drive over to access the swimming spot.
- There’s a small parking area that can fit 12 cars max. Park there. Do NOT park on the road, you will be blocking traffic and any emergency vehicles like firetrucks who may need to access the road. You can be ticketed and towed. If there’s no room, turn around and try again another day.
- There may or may not be a $10 parking fee being enforced. Check the signage when you arrive. Bring cash just in case.
- The path down to the water is on the right side of the bridge close to the portapotty area. It’s steep but easy (my pregnant friend made it!) Hike down and you made it!
Arrive Early Or Go On A Week Day
If you are choosing to visit Yankee Jim’s swimming hole on a weekend, I recommend arriving before 10:30am so you can get there before the crowds and get a parking spot. We arrived around then and had the whole river to ourselves minus one group of chill guys so it was a super relaxing visit.
When we left around 1pm, we passed no less than 10 cars packed with people heading down there. (I was very thankful to be on the mountainside of the road.) Myabe there is additional parking somewhere we didn’t see but I wasn’t sure how all those trucks were going to fit down there.
Bring Snacks & Water
The drive on Yankee Jim’s road will take you at least 25 minutes, and from there it’s another 15 minutes at least to get to a nearby town or store. Aka, it’s not easy to quickly run out to grab snacks or water.
So, pack in your own food and drinks (oh, and sunscreen!) Don’t forget to bring a trash bag so you can pack your trash out. The porta-potty on site was well maintained and was fully stocked with toilet paper BUT we also were the first the arrive for the day, so I would suggest also bringing a roll for yourself as a backup.
The path down to the water is steep but easy with a lot of foot holes. I hiked it in sandals and it wasn’t too bad. But you’ll need to be handsfree so I recommend packing everything in backpacks vs. tote bags.
Be Mindful Of Currents
The American River can have some gnarly areas so always be careful when swimming. this isn’t like La Jolla Cove down in San Diego that is safe to swim year round – you have to be careful of the currents here. If you are unsure, toss a stick in the water first to see how tossed around it gets.
It was totally fine when I was swimming but I’ve read reports online of people getting carried too far down too quickly.
Is Yankee Jims Closed?
This is unclear. Shortly before we visited in June 2022, the swimming hole blew up on TikTok and the county had to close Yankee Jims swimming hole road for the summer. I have not been up to verify if it’s open again or not. I heard a rumor the state opened the road again 2022 but I’m not sure. If you visit, please let us know in the comments.
Regardless, even if the road is closed you can still always hike down there!
The History Of Yankee Jim’s Bridge
The town of Yankee Jim dates back to 1850 when a rogue Australian horse thief named Yankee Jim settled in the area. He discovered gold and tried to conceal his discovery & true intentions of living in the area by building a horse corral. But just a couple years later, word got out and the area was turning in a gold mining camp. It once was a bustling area with thousands of miners. Now it’s pretty rural and empty.
The Yankee Jim’s Bridge (also sometimes called the Colfax Foresthill Bridge) dates back to 1930. It’s the highest suspension bridge in California (and 4th tallest in the United States!) While historic, it’s also in need of repairs to remain safe. Yankee Jim’s Bridge replacement may be coming in late 2020 or early 2021 so keep an eye out for updates about construction.
Fun Things To Do In The Area
Once you’re done swimming, consider sticking around the area for the day!
- You can go hiking the Indian Creek Trail or the Shirttail Creek Falls trail (stay parked at the bridge, the trailhead is there!)
- Pop into the town of Auburn for lunch at The Pour House and a cold craft beer.
- Switch up your swimming holes by visiting the Auburn Confluence!
- Go wine tasting along the Placer County Wine Trail.
- Driving over to Nevada City, a historic Victorian-area town that’s packed with charm and restaurants!
- Travel to Auburn State Recreation Area to see the damn waterfall and go hiking.
- Visit Folsom for one of the state parks with lupine blooms!
I hope this helps you plan a SAFE and FUN trip to Yankee Jim’s swimming hole!! Again, please practice safety and be smart while you are enjoying this natural wonder. Again, I personally would never visit this hole on a weekend day and especially never on a holiday. It’s a lot like how I always avoid National Parks on holiday weekends – just too busy!
If you have any tips to add, please leave a comment below so everyone can see. Got questions? Comment or DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
I can’t believe you would post this!! We live here because it is quiet and peaceful and private and you go and give out directions to a place that could very well end in the death of some “adventure seeking” flat lander. You people have no respect for the land and every single person who writes one of these stupid blogs adds the the trash that we have to clean up and the death toll on this river grade.
Well it beneficial to me. Thank you for the game
Chill Karen….. find something better to do with your day. Like visiting a swimming hole other than Yankee Jim’s (:
Feel free to go to another lake KAREN
We are in the US “free land” I hope you as a local dont come to OUR beaches
Kinda gotta agree
Yeah you flat landers!
I’m motivated to go to this place just because of this Karen’s post
Guess what?? Just because you live in the mountains and near the river doesn’t mean that you own them. Everyone has a right to hike and swim .
i didnt ask
Did you read the post thoroughly? As a local I feel this person has done an outstanding duty informing the public of the safety, pros and cons.
What are the parameters for being local? How close do i have to live? How many years too? Just really need to know. Do official locals have a secret hand shake? What if a local invites an outsider? What if too many locals are there? I’d there a pecking order and lower level locals get sent home? What if you used to be local, but then moved to Nevada City. Can you still visit? Please share your superior knowledge. We all really care.
This is not a good recommendation. We tried this today and the road was so packed no one could turn around. There is no service and the road is narrow. There are also very pissed off locals- as I would be because the road has turned into such a cluster. Be prepared to back out of the road.
Hey! Sorry you didn’t have a good time. I see your time stamp here – it looks like you tried to go on a weekend day that was ALSO a holiday weekend (July 4th) which is why you probably ran into crowds. As I mentioned in this post, weekends will be more crowded. I also mentioned the road is very narrow and that there’s no service so maps should be downloaded offline. You should try this spot again in the future, just on a weekday or at least not on a holiday weekend. 🙂 Hope you found something else fun to do in the area, perhaps one of the great trails?
She literally said on the post that try to go on a weekday or if you go on the weekend then go early ? she also mentioned that there is no service so make sure to download the map for offline use.
Thank you so much for these tips! You totally didn’t have to so I appreciate that you did!
Is the swimming hole deep and are ticks really bad there and should we drive or walk to swimming hole
That’s what I was wondering. If we should just walk to the swimming hole or drive.
Hey! The road is narrow which means I think you have a high chance of being hit by a car if you walk down so please drive instead 🙂
Is there parking before the swimming hole? I’d rather not drive on a dangerous path (nervous driver) if there’s parking before it. A little hike to the swimming hole would’t hurt! 🙂
Are dogs allowed?
Is there any camping sites? Or just for the day
It is a cool place, but it’s been mostly ruined by the poor behavior of visitors and risks being closed. It’s also dangerous in many ways. Someone was just air-lifted out of there a few days ago.
Yeah, the locals are understandably pissed by people leaving their trash and driving like idiots, and the first responders are pissed that people block the only fire-access road through the area and then regularly injure/kill themselves there. I’ve heard they’re going to start better enforcement of the parking fees and possibly towing cars that block the road (and it’s a LONG walk back!).
The amount of “legal” parking is a joke. Just room for a handful of cars on each side. A local said that the last time they visited on a weekend, people were parked for over a mile along the road, completely blocking it in places and that it took them HOURS to get out again because the narrow road was tangled up with cars trying to turn around or get out. Also, no facilities of any kind for miles other than an outhouse.
The road itself is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s fine for most cars if there’s no one else coming the other way. If you’re feeling adventurous and still want to go, go early on a weekday. I’ll never make that cliffside, one-lane drive during popular times, especially when there are SOOO many easier-to-access places along 80 or the Yuba / Bear rivers.
She doesn’t own the swimming hole dude. She also mentioned the risks regarding the bridge, narrow road, and informed about the deaths so you need to read more carefully next time
I live Yankee Jim rd for 30 yrs now I also grew up in Colfax. In all these years experienced the problems that we are dealing with now. People don’t understand that we that off this rd. Have a fear of a fire starting from your illegal campfires, becoming out of control . With our fire department not able to get equipment down to battle the flames, because people whom have no thought of the actions they took have not only placed them in danger of being trapped by the fire but also the homeowners whom live there in danger, all because of the lack of respect for this beautiful area. We have just one way out of here.
People are burning campfires down there? I’m so confused, I didn’t see any fire circles or campsites smh. I’ll add that as a no-no to the main post & include the details you mentioned.
We took a trip here today and were pulled over by a cop right before the dirt road. Apparently somebody from Roseville was contact traced back to this spot. There’s an apparent covid spike in the local town now. I was so confused but he explained that the local area has been packed due to social media. He asked where I heard about it and I showed him this post. Wasn’t too happy with us being there. Hubby tried reasoning with him but wasn’t let through. Probably not the best place to go. Went to Hell Hole instead.
The place is packed, no parking. Been going here for years. Sadly social media and posts like this have ruined it.
Hi this is closed here’s the link to the video on Facebook. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3084535448267598&id=199535516767620&sfnsn=mo&d=n&vh=e
12 parking spots with over 300 cars. Jesus Christ. CLOSED.
Closed- check out the Placer County Sheriff page on Facebook. Patrolled and handing out illegally parked cars. For reference theres only 12 parking spots… 300 people were there the other day.
Why would you post this when it’s closed? What a waste of time for my family! Screw you
It’s not her fault it’s closed weirdo. If you read the comments before you would see that dumbass
This area is closed. Signs posted on both sides of Canyon Way. Cars are being ticketed and towed. If I were you, I might add that to your story so people don’t go down there and blame you. That’s a long drive. I’ve seen the closed signs posted on TikTok as well.
Where did you get your uninformed info on this bridge? It is no where the highest in the state. The golden Gate is 220 foot at high tide. The Oakland bay bridge is also 220 feet.
The See California website along with other pages like Wiki + local news articles about the bridge remodel coming soon:
It is the highest bridge by deck height in California, the fourth highest in the United States, and among the seventy highest in the world at 730 feet (220 m) above the river.”
Waste of time
Just talked to the placer county parks department and Yankee Jim’s has been closed indefinitely. They may keep it closed permanently. Sad that the actions of the few impact the accessibility of the many. Please try the Iowa Hill Area its right up the road and offers the same thing only with monitored parking and lots more parking plus safer accessibility.
This place is trashed.
I took 3 – 16 year old boys over the weekend and we hiked the road down to the bridge and had so much fun! They had a blast – it was a Sunday and it did not get too packed and I did not notice a lot of trash either – it was clean! We had a blast and will do it again! FUN FUN FUN! The swim was the best part in the clear cool water! So much fun and great memories!
So good to hear! I imagine on a hot day after the hike, the water would feel extra amazing.
Hey Karen are you native? What gives you the right to tell people they can’t enjoy the land? I frequent the sierras from Sacramento and have lived up there as a child. So you telling me, a “flat lander” that I cant come to your mountain to honor my ancestors in ceremony is ludicrous and gross and makes you look like an ignorant, uncultured piece of trash. I’ll be visiting soon, get that unwelcome sign ready! What a joke. You don’t deserve to be on my land lol. Grow up
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