The California Legislature added a 10 mile segment of the East Carson River to the state system in 1989. The river’s designation was in response to a state study that found the river to be eligible and suitable for state protection. Designation of the East Carson (along with another eastern Sierra river, the West Walker) was the first expansion of the state system since it was established in 1972. The public lands along the river’s protected segment are managed by the Forest Service as part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City (NV) District. The Forest Service also found the river to be eligible for federal protection.
The East Carson from Hangman’s bridge to the California-Nevada border possesses extraordinary scenic, recreational, and hydrological values. The East Carson is a rare undammed eastern Sierra river. With its upper watershed framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the river flows through a volcanic rock canyon and ultimately into the Great Basin Desert. The river canyon is clothed in Jeffrey pine and sagebrush, with cottonwood and willow along the riverbank. The East Carson is renowned for its springtime whitewater boating opportunities. Hot springs located along this segment are a popular destination for boaters, hikers, and OHV enthusiasts. The river is also popular with anglers fishing for wild trout.