San Joaquin River

Effective Friday, June 16th, 2023, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office is reopening the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the Merced County line.

This means there are no restrictions for water activities. Parks currently closed along the San Joaquin River will remain closed. This includes Lost Lake and Skaggs Bridge Parks. Both contain several hazards and will require maintenance work to be performed before being accessible to visitors. A date of reopening has not been determined.

The Kings River remains closed and there is no timeline for reopening it. The continued strong water flows and hazardous conditions make it unsafe for recreational use. In the best interest of public safety, Sheriff John Zanoni is keeping the Kings River closed as permitted under the authority of Penal Code 409.5(a) and Fresno County Ordinance 13.32.080. Deputies are strictly enforcing this closure and violators will be subject to citations. This infraction comes with a minimum fine of $225.00.

On March 14th, Sheriff John Zanoni issued an order to close the rivers due to the projection of large amounts of melting snow in the Sierra, creating life-threatening conditions. Water levels have since reduced on the San Joaquin River, creating safer conditions for the public to access it.

The Sheriff’s Office is extremely pleased with how well the overwhelming majority of the public cooperated with the rules set in place during the closure of the river. Although the San Joaquin River is reopened, it is important to note that it remains extremely dangerous. People familiar with the river will notice different water patterns compared to years past. There are numerous downed trees, which create strainers. A strainer is where turbulent water flows through the tree. A person caught in a strainer can quickly find themselves pinned against the tree or even swept underneath it. It is extremely difficult to rescue yourself from a strainer and typically requires emergency help from trained rescue personnel. Please use good, safe judgement when entering the water. The temperature of the water is registering about 55°. Exposure to the cold water can cause hypothermia, which can quickly lead to exhaustion or unconsciousness. We ask that you take simple safety precautions while doing water activities such as: Wear a life jacket, invest in high quality boating equipment, stay out of the water if you’re not an experienced swimmer and do not mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol causes swimmers to fatigue faster than normal and can create dangerous situations. Also, please keep an eye on your children at all times. In a matter of seconds, they can slip into the water and be put at risk for injury or death.

Contact Information

Tony Botti
Public Information Officer
(559) 600-8137