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Eldorado National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains in Californiamarker, with a tiny portion extending into Nevadamarker. Most of the forest (72.8%) lies in El Dorado Countymarker. In descending order of land area the others counties are Amadormarker, Alpinemarker, and Placermarker counties in California, and Douglas County, Nevadamarker, which has an official 78 acres of forest land. The forest is bordered on the north by the Tahoe National Forestmarker, on the east by the Lake Tahoemarker Basin Management Unit, on the southeast by the Toiyabe National Forest, and to the south by the Stanislaus National Forestmarker. Forest headquarters are located in Placerville, Californiamarker. There are local ranger district offices in Caminomarker, Georgetownmarker, Pioneermarker, and Pollock Pinesmarker. The forest was established on July 28, 1910 from a portion of Tahoe National Forest and other lands.


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

  • Annual precipitation: 40–70 inches (1,000 to 1,800 mm) on average.
* Precipitation falls mainly from October through April.
  • Temperature range: 0 °F (-20 °C) in winter to 100 °F (38 °C) in the summer.
  • Snow pack: 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 m) on average, can be as high as 15 feet (4.5 m).
* Snow is present from December to May at elevations above 6,000 feet (1,800 m).


The Forest ranges in elevation from 1,000 feet (300 m) in the foothills to more than 10,000 feet (3,000 m) 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 area: 786,994 acres (3,185 km²)
  • Other ownership: 190,270 acres (770 km²)
  • Net area: 596,724 acres (2,415 km²)


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.

Some of old-growth forests have been identified here, with Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forests (Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), and White Fir (Abies concolor)), Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) forests, and Red Fir (Abies magnifica) forests the most common types.

The major commercial Forest species are White Fir, Red Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Jeffrey pine, Sugar Pine, Douglas Fir, and Incense Cedar.


Water is a major resource of the Eldorado National Forest. The forest receives about 56 inches (1.4 m) of precipitation annually. Average annual runoff is about 29 inches (737 mm). This is equal to an annual water yield of 2.4 acre-feet per acre (737,000 m³/km²); therefore National Forest lands yield an estimated 1,444,000 acre-feet (1.8 km³) annually.

  • 611 miles (983 km) 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, and North Fork of the Mokelumne River.
  • 297 lakes and reservoirs (including both public and private land), which total 11,994 acres (48.5 km²). 11 large reservoirs account for 9,000 acres (36 km²). The rest are mostly small, high mountain lakes.


The Eldorado has a high density transportation system containing 2,367 miles (3809 km) of roads and 349 miles (562 km) of trails. Roads under Forest Service jurisdiction total . There are 209 miles (336 km) of county roads and another 400 miles (640 km) of private roads within the Forest boundary.


  1. Table 6 - NFS Acreage by State, Congressional District, and County, 30 September 2008
  2. USFS Ranger Districts by State

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