Our goal is for you to have a safe and positive experience at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Knowing and abiding by the rules and regulations of the park can help you stay safe. Additionally, knowing about some of the natural hazards of the park - and how to react if they occur - can help you stay safe...

A Whiskeytown law enforcement park ranger holding a youth lifejacket and standing next to a rack of youth lifejackets at Brandy Creek Beach. The lifejackets are red and blue.
A Whiskeytown law enforcement park ranger holding a youth lifejacket and standing next to the Lifejacket Loaner rack at Brandy Creek Beach. June 2021.

Lifejackets Save Lives

Did you know that under California law, every child under the age of 13 must wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket aboard all moving vessels, including kayaks and paddleboards? Did you also know that anyone 13 years of age or older in California must have a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket with them aboard all moving vessels, including kayaks and paddleboards? This is important, because many drownings occur each year from individuals that are not wearing lifejackets. In fact, Whiskeytown Lake averages about one drowning per year, and the common denominator for all of these drownings is that the person was not wearing a lifejacket. Please wear a lifejacket on your boat if you are under 13, and please at least bring one with you if you are 13 or over - it's the law, and it may save your life!

Lifejackets are also highly recommended for youth when playing near the water, swimming, or at the beach. For this reason, a free Lifejacket Loaner Program for children weighing between 50 and 90 pounds has been set up at Oak Bottom Beach and Brandy Creek Beach from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend (see photo). The program is based on the honor system - grab a lifejacket from the rack and then when you are done using it, please put it back on the rack so the next visitor can use it.

Whiskeytown map showing closures in red.

Burned Area Safety

Visitors are reminded that Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is managed as a natural area and that there are always risks involved in outdoor recreation. The Carr Fire has increased risks to visitors. Falling trees, broken and hanging limbs, burned out stump holes, abandoned mine features, and loose rocks remain in much of the burned area.

Winter storms present additional hazards as the loss of trees and other vegetation contributed to accelerated erosion and runoff. Flooding, landslides, and the possibility of debris flows pose a significant risk to human life and park infrastructure. Of particular concern are the watersheds at the base of Shasta Bally: Brandy Creek, Boulder Creek, Paige Boulder Creek, and Mill Creek have been identified as areas with a high potential for debris flow. Debris flows are extremely dangerous water-laden masses of soil, vegetation, and rock that rush down mountainsides and funnel into stream channels. They capture additional material in their path and eventually form fan-shaped deposits on valley floors. Smaller scale landslides and flood may occur anywhere within the park during rain events. For these reasons, please do not go into the closed areas of the park.

Hikers are highly encouraged to be aware of their surroundings at all times while at Whiskeytown. Remember to watch both the ground you walk on as well as what is above your head for hazards.

a rattlesnake. Characteristic, light-colored "rattle" at end of tale. Pit-viper-like head.
a rattlesnake. Characteristic, light-colored "rattle" at end of tale. Pit-viper-like head.

Rattlesnake Country

Like the vast majority of California, Whiskeytown is rattlesnake country. A rattlesnake bite injects venom which can be dangerous to pets and humans, particularly children. The best way to avoid being harmed by a rattlesnake is to keep your pet on a leash and keep children near you. Also, always look where you are going to place your hands and feet. Never approach a rattlesnake or any snake.

If you get bit by a rattlesnake, call 911 immediately. Try and stay calm until help arrives and move as little as possible. Remove constricting clothing or jewelry because the area surrounding the bite will likely swell.

A large black bear walking through a grassy, wooded area of Whiskeytown.
A large black bear walking through a grassy, wooded area of Whiskeytown. Photo captured on one of the park's wildlife cameras. A black bear sighting can be an exciting experience, but it is critical to not approach or feed the bear or leave your food unattended at a campsite or along the lakeshore.

Bear Country

Whiskeytown is home to a healthy population of black bears. Adult male black bears usually weigh less than 400 pounds, while adult females usually weigh less than 250 pounds. Despite their ungainly appearance, bears can run at speeds of up to 30 mph for short distances. They can also climb trees and swim. Black bears see in color, but their eyesight is not as well developed as in humans. To compensate they have good hearing and a very keen sense of smell.

Bears are omnivorous which means they eat both plants and animals. Most of a bear's waking hours are spent searching for food. Given a bear's keen sense of smell, constant search for food, and high intelligence, many camping areas in bear country can experience bear problems. The Whiskeytown area is no exception. Problems arise when bears get into human food or trash. When eating human food or garbage bears become "conditioned" to being around people and, in their quest for food, ultimately become aggressive and dangerous. In some cases bears have taken food from visitors. By following a few simple rules you can help keep Whiskeytown's bears wild and behaving naturally:

1. Never feed bears or leave food unattended even for a few minutes.
2. Always use bear-proof food storage lockers and bear-proof trash containers.
3. If bear-proof food storage lockers are not provided, store food in odor-free containers and out of sight in a vehicle, preferably the trunk. Store food carefully as bears can break into vehicles.
4. If a black bear approaches you, scare it away - stand up, wave your arms, and shout or make loud noises.
5. If you feel threatened by the black bear, walk away to a safe place. Do not run.
6. In the unlikely event that a black bear attacks you, fight back and do not play dead. Concentrate your kicks and blows to the bear's face. Use anything you can to hit it. When safe, call 911 immediately.

Report all bear sightings to a park ranger or park headquarters at (530) 242-3400.

Mountain lion. Photo taken on one of the park's wildlife cameras.
Mountain lion. Photo taken on one of the park's wildlife cameras.

Mountain Lion Country

Few people ever see these elusive animals in the wild. However, mountain lions (also known as puma, panther, and wildcat) have occasionally been known to attack people and pets.

When visiting mountain lion territory, precautions should be taken:

1. Avoid hiking alone.
2. Don't run, running may stimulate the lion’s instinct to chase.
3. Watch children closely, and never let them run ahead of you on the trail.
4. Keep your pet on a leash.

If you encounter a mountain lion, try these behaviors to convince the lion you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself:

1. Face the lion and stand upright.
2. Make eye contact.
3. Do not turn your back on the mountain lion. Back away slowly.
4. Pick small children and small pets up and place on your shoulders.
5. Spread your arms, open your coat, and try and make yourself appear larger.
6. If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your hands, shout at it and throw sticks or rocks.
7. If attacked, fight back. Do not "play dead." Once you are safe, call 911 immediately.

Report all mountain lion sightings to a park ranger or park headquarters at 530-242-3400.

Last updated: September 14, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 188
Whiskeytown, CA 96095


530 242-3400

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