Nimbus Fish Hatchery is situated on the banks of the American River. The hatchery was constructed to replace the salmon and steelhead runs blocked by Nimbus and Folsom dams.
Nimbus is more than just a spawning ground for our finned friends. The hatchery is one of the best places to spend time outdoors in the Sacramento region. With its beautiful surrounding scenery, admission to the hatchery is free and interesting; during the fall, the Department of Fish and Game opens the gates at the hatchery’s massive fish ladder and begins collecting salmon for spawning.
In a brilliant display of nature, you can watch it all unfold through a huge glass wall in the Visitor Center. On select days, the salmon flip their fins and lunge from the water as they climb the hatchery’s ladder. At the top, the fish are spawned by hatchery workers, and the eggs are collected and fertilized by male fish.
Things to do Nimbus Fish Hatchery
The Nimbus Hatchery raises around 4.2 million salmon fingerlings each year and is eventually released back into the Sacramento River-San Joaquin Estuary. Steelhead trout are raised at the hatchery and later released in the Sacramento River near Rio Vista.
Both children and adults will enjoy viewing the baby salmon and be sure to bring your nickels to buy fish food from several gumball-like dispensers to feed them. Often the Rangers will also pass out free food.
There are several areas to visit while at the hatchery beside the salmon viewing area. The Visitor Center houses multiple interactive fish fact displays and interesting info about the Sacramento region.
Next door on either side of the visitor center, two fish pens have graduating sizes of hatchlings and fish that you can feed.
A concrete ramp leads down to the river and former dam site from there. It is a good place to critter watch, occasionally catching a rare glimpse of a river otter sitting on a rock eating a fish or playfully performing for visitors.
American River Bike Trail
Another one of the main draws to the site besides the Nimbus Fish Hatchery is the pedestrian path that runs along the river part of the American River Bike Trail.
This magnificent trail runs approximately 30 miles from Old Sacramento to Lake Folsom. It offers hikers, walkers, joggers, and bikers, a safe and serene environment to enjoy their outdoor activities in the company of lively squirrels and birds shaded in a variety of trees, flowers, and foliage.
One stop along the way worth visiting is the William B. Pond Park area, where you might encounter deer, wild turkeys, jackrabbits, and even lots of wild raspberries and blackberries growing alongside the trail.
The path runs through several other park areas, offering users an abundance of water fountains and restroom facilities along the way.
Sacramento State University, Discovery Park, and Lake Natoma, among other stops, are home to the Sacramento State Aquatic Center.
Here adventurers can rent kayaks to explore secret tunnels and paths throughout the lake while navigating their way through shallow swampy areas where you can see fish swimming nearby. There are also many spots the length of the trail where anglers can drop their lines.
While the Nimbus Fish Hatchery offers an extraordinary view into the unique world of salmon and steelhead trout, a stroll down the American River Bike Trail completes your visit.
If you happen to visit in mid-October, the hatchery hosts the annual American River Salmon Festival, which offers music, art, food, and recreation, emphasizing education on the life of the Pacific Salmon.
Where is Nimbus Fish Hatchery
The Nimbus Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is open daily, 10:00 am-3:00 pm. Raceways and outdoor areas open daily, 7:30 am-3:00 pm. Access to the river and river trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
To get to the fish hatchery at 2001 Nimbus Rd, Gold River, CA 95670, take Highway 50 to the Hazel Avenue exit and head north for about a half-mile. Both the hatchery and free parking lot can be accessed off of Nimbus Road.