American River

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The American River (Río de los Americanos during the Mexican-ruled period before 1846) is a California watercourse noted as the site of Sutter's Mill, northwest of Placerville, California, where gold was found in 1848, leading to the California Gold Rush. This river runs from the Sierra Nevada mountain range, through the Sacramento metropolitan area, where it enters into the Sacramento River on its way to the San Francisco Bay. Today the American River is known for its whitewater rapids.

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Course

The American River is divided into the North, Middle, and South forks that contain recreational havens for well over one million visitors per year in El Dorado County, Placer County, and Sacramento County in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of Northern California. The river originates in the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests.[9] From the confluence at Auburn, the combined North and Middle Forks river flows at an elevation of 600 feet (200 m) in a forested canyon 800 feet (240 m) deep and is called the North Fork. It meanders through additional wilderness recreational canyons past the site of the abandoned Auburn Dam, and back into wilderness, onward to where it meets the South Fork at Folsom Lake. All three forks are known for their verdant canyons, forested ridges, massive rock formations, trails, backcountry winter adventuring among snowy peaks, fishing and white water rafting. Below Folsom Lake, the river passes through an urbanized area but is buffered by a riparian park, the American River Parkway. Containing fishing and family-oriented rafting, and paved bicycling and multi-use trails, it runs 23 miles (37 km) from Folsom Lake to the river's confluence with the Sacramento River. The American River Parkway incorporates Historic Leidesdorff Ranch, a 35,000-acre (140 km2) cattle and wheat agribusiness owned by the "African Founding Father of California." Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, a meandering, uninterrupted 32-mile (51 km) cycle path, hugs the river bank from Old Sacramento to Folsom Lake.

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