On a sunny, spring day about a year ago, HI Travel Tales stopped in at the Oroville Dam and its Feather River Fish Hatchery. Little did we know the peaceful shots we snapped would be such a contrast to the thundering water of the overfilled Oroville Dam in February 2017 that forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people.

In addition to the evacuation of people, however, was the mandatory evacuation of several million baby fish from the hatchery we had enjoyed. A worthwhile stop for travelers seeking more than tourist traps, the Feather River Fish Hatchery raises Chinook salmon and steelhead – up to 9 million each year in the hatchery approximately one mile below the Oroville Dam, which is the tallest dam in the United States.

Feather River Fish Hatchery looking into the fish ladder.

Evacuating baby fish from the Feather River Fish Hatchery at Oroville Dam

A secondary story to the evacuation of all those people was the need to evacuate as many baby fish as possible – since either the waters or the sediment could kill them. In the end, a small army of volunteers working through the night scooped up and moved nearly 4 million of those baby fish, with the remainder likely seeing a different fate. The fish raised at the Feather River Fish Hatchery at Oroville Dam are in fact crucial to the state’s salmon stock, particularly as their numbers have declined during the last several years of drought. According to the Chico (California) Enterprise-Record newspaper, the floodwaters that swelled the river had reached above the fish ladder to the parking lot.

Feather River Fish Hatchery also flooded in 1997 at the barrier dam.

This is not the first time the Feather River Fish Hatchery has been under water. In 1997, the waters were also above the fish ladder — as you can see by looking at the red line in the image above. The hatchery returned and will return again after this saga – making it a particularly interesting stop for travelers to the Sierra Nevada foothills heading east from Sacramento.

Feather River Fish Hatcher fish ladder.

The Feather River Fish Hatchery has a self-guided tour – best in the fall when the fish ladder opens – that shows the entire spawning process. Guided group tours are available but need to be reserved a month in advance.

Feather River Fish Hatchery a great fall stop for area travelers

Details regarding hours, directions and contact information for the hatchery funded by the California Department of Water Resources and operated by the Department of Fish and Game are available here.

In September, the town of Oroville hosts the annual Salmon Festival with environmental education, music and tours. The 2017 and 2018 event may take special meaning.

The hatchery and Oroville Dam are part of a larger complex supplying power and recreation to a broader Northern California area.

HITT Tip: If you happen to be in the Oroville area in March or April, head out to the Table Mountain Preserve for a hike in an area renowned for its wildflowers. Check out our story on Table Mountain here, and a video showing the spectacular Phantom Falls there by clicking here.

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Peaceful evening in Old Sacramento on the river

A beautiful stream of reflected light fell across the river from Old Sacramento and its lights. I was standing on the opposite side of the bridge from Old Town. Now, if only that goose would swim over into the right place….

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Bathing in pollen: Ladybugs and poppies

When thoughts start to turn to spring and flowers, the question arises, where to find wildflowers and perhaps butterflies and ladybugs too? The hunt is on for the expanses of color, the bees, the butterflies and the beauty. In Northern California, we go looking...
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South Yuba River State Park: Bridgeport covered bridge and wildflowers

As spring cracks opens its doors, the multitude of wildflowers at South Yuba River State Park’s Bridgeport area pop up their heads. No time is better to visit the Bridgeport Historic Covered Bridge, take a hike along the river on the Point Defiance Trail, or enjoy a...
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The best hike in Carmel: Palo Corona Park trails and views

When you are in Carmel on the Monterey Peninsula of California’s coast, the ocean and beaches are a huge draw. But don’t forget to seek out inland trails to find what may be the best hike in Carmel. Palo Corona Regional Park is nestled in the surrounding hills with...
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Alhambra Theater: Travelers can find lost history in Sacramento

Once one of the renowned theaters and movie palaces in the 1920s and '30s, the Alhambra Theater is an historic site in Sacramento that would be of interest to any traveler who is a movie buff. Unfortunately, the Alhambra, which opened in 1927, was lost to a wrecking...
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Feather River Fish Hatchery fish saved from Oroville Dam disaster

On a sunny, spring day about a year ago, we stopped in at the Oroville Dam and its Feather River Fish Hatchery. Little did we know the peaceful shots we snapped would be such a contrast to the thundering water of the overfilled Oroville Dam in February 2017 that forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people. In addition to the evacuation of people, however, was the mandatory evacuation of several million baby fish from the hatchery we had enjoyed.

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Indulgent New Year’s “detox” at Villagio Spa in Napa

The food and drink from world-class restaurants to top-rated wineries in Napa Valley is endless. A stay at a spa can help you “detox” from all that indulgence. We selected the Villagio Spa in Napa for a short retreat that was more about the bliss than the bounty of Napa Valley.

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Discovering San Francisco secret gardens and public rooftop open spaces

POPOS may sound like a funny name for something you’d munch on during happy hour, but that is so wrong. POPOS stands for “Privately Owned Public Open Spaces,” a.k.a. San Francisco secret gardens. Whether you as a traveler call them POPOS, secret gardens, or rooftop parks, they are ideal respites and secluded open spaces when wandering and touring cities for travelers who just need to rest weary feet or simply take in the surroundings or do a little people-watching – for free, often in a really pleasant venue.

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Map of California

In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on California. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.

Villagio Inn and Spa

Feather River Fish Hatchery

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve


Table Mountain Preserve


Liberty Cemetery


Michigan Bluff


Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail


Mozzeria Pizzeria


Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve


Apple Hill


Wofford Acres Vineyards


Apple Ridge Farms


Larsen Apple Barn


Rainbow Orchards


Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie


Allez French restaurant


UC Davis Arboretum


Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History


Crema Restaurant


Alhambra Theater Historic Site - Sacramento

Today, the former movie showplace is not much of a show. And not many folks seem to even be aware of the meaning of these palm trees, and non-functioning fountain as they dash in and out of the store for groceries. A plaque that was said to be placed there was nowhere to be found when I visited. Read our story here.

Palo Corona Regional Park - Carmel

South Yuba River State Park - Bridgeport

Heads up! This information the Feather River Fish Hatchery was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.
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Therese Iknoian

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist before launching a freelance writing career specializing in outdoor, fitness and training. All the while trotting the globe, her focus finally turned to travel. Fluent in German, Therese runs a translation business (www.ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. Also a French speaker, she loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication and the search for great travel discoveries.
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