High water at Bullards Bar in June 2011. Photo by Ingrid M. Kollmann. Bullards Bar Reservoir (also called New Bullards Bar Reservoir) is an artificial reservoir west of Camptonville, in the Yuba River Ranger District of Tahoe National Forest. It is formed by Bullards Bar Dam on the Yuba River north fork, and also receives a portion of the middle fork's flow that is diverted to the reservoir via Lohman Ridge Tunnel and Camptonville Tunnel. Bridger Creek, Burnt Bridge Creek, Cottage Creek, Empire Creek, Hampshire Creek, Indian Creek, Little Oregon Creek, Mill Creek, Mississippi Creek, Missouri Creek, Schoolhouse Creek, and Willow Creek all empty into the reservoir as well.

Bullards Bar Reservoir is 16 miles long and has more than 60 miles of shoreline. It has a capacity of 960,000 acre-feet, with a flood-control reservation 170,000 acre-feet. Its elevation is 2,000 feet.


The Bullards Bar Dam was first conceptualized in 1959 and was completed in 1970. It is owned by the Yuba County Water Agency. It is a concrete variable radius arch dam, 635 feet tall and 2,350 feet long. Its most important function is flood control, but it also provides water for irrigation, hydroelectricity production, and recreation. The reservoir provides water to power two hydroelectric plants, the New Colgate Powerhouse and the Fish Release Powerhouse.

Our House Dam and Log Cabin Dam are also located at Bullards Bar Reservoir.

Recreation Area

The reservoir is part of Bullards Bar Recreation Area, which is approximately 14,500 acres of yellow pine forest and central oak woodland plus 4,600 acres of surface water. Emerald Cove Marina contains a general store, gas station, boat moorage, and camping facilities. Houseboat, ski, patio, and fishing boat rentals are also provided there. There are two free boat launching facilities, with one launch ramp adjacent to Emerald Cove Marina. For hikers, Bullards Bar Trail runs along the shore of the lake. Picnic tables are provided at Dark Day Picnic Area.

Campgrounds accessible from Marysville Road are Dark Day Walk-in Campground, Schoolhouse Campground, and Hornswoggle Group Campground. Campgrounds that are accessible only by boat are Frenchy Point Boat-in Campground, Garden Point Boat-in Campground, and Madrone Cove Boat-in Campground.


The rules listed below are summaries of the more detailed laws enumerated in Yuba County Ordinance Code Title VIII § 8.50.

General Rules

Fishing is permitted. The reservoir is stocked annually with Kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. There is also a self-sustaining population of brook trout. Do not clean fish except at designated locations or on a houseboat.

Unless you are water skiing or aquaplaning, do not swim or float farther than 100 feet from the shoreline, except in areas where a floating barrier marks a wider region where swimming is allowed. Do not use logs or hard or sharp objects while swimming or floating.

All pets must be leashed when within 300 feet of the reservoir or of any designated picnic area, camping area, road, or boat launching ramp. Horses and similar animals are restricted to designated areas.

Do not litter. Trash containers are provided.

Do not advertise or do business in the recreation area without a permit.

It is illegal to damage the plants or animals in any way. Do not cut, break, dig up, carve designs or messages into, or fasten advertisements to the plants. If you hitch a horse, dog, or other animal to a tree or shrub, make sure you do so in a way that does not damage the plant. Do not remove rocks, dirt, or any substance whatsoever.

Do not fire a gun (including air or gas or spring-propelled guns) or a slingshot in the recreation area. Do not fire a bow and arrow except in areas specifically designated for archery.

Motorcycles must remain on public roads or public trails. All other vehicles must remain on public roads. Parking must be done only in authorized parking areas.

Due to fire hazards, do not smoke in the recreation area except in vehicles, vessels, structures, or designated areas.

Do not light fireworks anywhere in the recreation area.

Do not build or maintain a fire except in camp stoves or fireplaces. Oil, butane, or gasoline camp stoves may be used in established campsites or picnic areas where other stoves are provided, or in other areas where authorized by permit.

Boating Rules

Boats must be sanitary and seaworthy and must not leak any oil, gas, or other pollution into the reservoir. If a boat contains a toilet or sink, the toilet or sink must be sealed or otherwise rendered incapable of draining into the lake.

Boats must be launched only at designated launching areas. They must not remain on the shore overnight except in areas designated for that purpose. If you leave your boat overnight in any area, you do so at your own risk. From June 1 to September 30, the water level in the reservoir may fluctuate up to 1½ feet in 24 hours. Between October 1 and May 31, much more extreme fluctuations can be expected.

Motorboats must never exceed 20 miles per hour. Some areas have lower speed limits. In designated areas, motorboats must not exceed 5 miles per hour and must not create a noticeable wake.

Bilge pumps must not be operated except in designated areas or in an emergency.

To conduct an event on the boat racing or water skiing courses, you must apply for a permit at least 30 days in advance.

Houseboats can only be used with a valid annual houseboat permit and will be subject to an annual inspection (and with due cause, intermittent inspections also) for safety, cleanliness, seaworthiness, and correctly sealed wastewater and sewage systems. Sewage pumpouts will be performed by the Marina for a fee, at least every 6 months. Houseboats must be self-propelled, equipped with steel or aluminum pontoons for flotation, and no bigger than 60 feet long and 15 feet wide. They must be used only for recreational purposes. Houseboats that fail the annual inspection will be charged a second fee for a second inspection. Houseboats found to have had their waste hook-ups willfully removed or tampered with so as to discharge waste into the reservoir will be permanently banned from the reservoir.


Named locations that are now submerged under the water of Bullards Bar Reservoir include Garden Valley, Bullards Bar, Elbow Bar, Foster Bar, Long Bar, Missouri Bar, Rock Island Bar, and Sucker Bar. The History of Yuba County, California (Chapter XXXI: Foster Bar Township) by Thompson & West, 1879, described the pre-reservoir Bullards Bar this way:

This was another large mining bar three-fourths of a mile below Foster Bar. Work was commenced here in 1849, and the bar soon became a populous one. It was named after Dr. Bullard of Brooklyn, New York, who was one of the pioneer miners. Dr. Bullard was afterwards lost in a shipwreck while on his way to the Sandwich Islands. Among the early settlers were: - Charles E. DeLong, afterwards Minister to Japan; C. E. Lippincott, editor of the Sierra Citizen in 1855, and recently Auditor of the State of Illinois; William Sharkey, now editor of the Butte Register; Mix Smith, John Sullivan, Hugh Shirkland, James P. Godfrey, Daniel Gettins, and Rogers McMenomy. C. E. Lippincott was engaged in a duel with Robert Tevis, in which the latter fell. The first lady to make an appearance at the bar was Mrs. Colonel Ewing. She came in 1850, and assisted her husband in mining. He carried the dirt in buckets to water and she rocked the cradle, an occupation usually considered the portion of the better half, at least in its domestic sense. A company of sixteen shareholders was formed in January, 1850, for the purpose of turning the river so as to mine the river bed. They worked until September and made a failure of the project, after having expended forty-seven thousand dollars. The river was afterwards turned by a flume, and the bed found to be worthless. The first bridge in the township was erected here in 1850, by E. S. Gifford. It was the custom to erect a light structure in the summer, so that if the high water of the winter season should carry it away, the loss would be comparatively light. After passing through several hands it came into the possession of George Mix, who, in 1858, erected the first permanent structure, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. He also constructed wagon roads to the bar. The great flood of 1862 carried the bridge away, and Smith constructed another further up the stream, which he afterwards sold to John Ramm. In the flood of 1875, this bridge was also destroyed. Mr. Ramm then built the present fine bridge, at an expense of fifteen thousand dollars. Catholic services were held here in 1852, by Rev. Father Acker. While on his way to Downieville his mule was accidentally killed, and he stopped at the bar. The services were held in a canvas store belonging to James Lawrence. From the collection taken the reverend gentleman was enabled to replenish his wardrobe that had been seriously damaged by the accident. In 1852, a military company called the "Bullard's Guards," was organized. The officers were: - John Sullivan, Captain; Daniel Gettins, First Lieutenant; John Norris, Second Lieutenant; Peter McQueen, First Sergeant. The uniform consisted of blue shirts with a sash around the waist. Bullard's Bar declined in importance with the depreciation of mining, but has still an existence. There is one hotel, kept by A. B. Clark, two stores, kept by A.J. Grove and Wm. R. Griffin, and a population of about fifteen whites and the same number of Chinese.


Bullards Bar Reservoir New Bullards Bar Reservoir entry on Wikipedia Wildernet.com: New Bullards Bar Reservoir New Bullards Bar Dam Web Page Department of Water Resources: Station Metadata: New Bullards Bar Water Ski Magazine: Bullards Bar, California