Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Climate and Environment

The L.A. River’s Recreation Areas Reopen Monday: Here’s What To Know Before You Go

View from the Fletcher Drive Bridge shows a blue sign with a heron reading "Los Angeles River" as well as foliage growing in the center of the river with graffiti-filled concrete banks beyond.
Looking west along the Los Angeles River from the Fletcher Drive Bridge
Wikimedia Creative Commons )
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

The summer season for the Elysian Valley and Sepulveda Basin recreation zones starts at sunrise on Memorial Day. Altogether that’s about four miles of riverfront available for hiking, fishing, bird watching and kayaking.

Depending on rainfall, it’s a different river every year, said Rudolph Secundino, who leads kayaking tours for non-profit L.A. River Expeditions.

“There’s new sand banks at the Sepulveda Basin, there’s new wildlife that comes every year,” Secundino said.

Secundino said his group took a big hit financially with the river closed during the pandemic, so he’s hoping to lead a lot of tours this season, which runs through September. Tickets are available starting June 12.

Support for LAist comes from

With a natural river bottom, the roughly 2.5-mile long Elysian Valley Recreation Zone is the “sporty” section, with fast moving water and some rapids. The Sepulveda Basin Recreation Zone is calmer, with parts of it having no concrete bottom or sides. “This lush and peaceful section contains the river's best wildlife,” according to L.A. River Expeditions’ website.

"Rumble strips" installed along the bike path in Elysian Valley.
(Courtesy of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation)

There’s also plenty of work to be done, according to Liliana Griego of Friends of the L.A. River.

“Because we weren’t able to go down and clean up the river last year, this is a prime opportunity to be able to do your part,” she said.

Those interested in volunteering to help with the cleanup can sign up on the Friends of the L.A. River’s website. The Great L.A. River CleanUp runs from June 1- July 31.

What To Know Before You Go:

How to Get There

Both recreation zones are open from sunrise to sunset.

The Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone runs along the 5 just north of downtown L.A. You can access it at Fletcher Drive north of Riverside Drive or at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park: 2999 Rosanna Street or 2944 Gleneden Street in Elysian Valley.

The Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone sits just west of the 101-405 interchange, in Encino. Access is west of Woodley Avenue on Burbank Boulevard. Use the approximate address of 16212 Burbank Boulevard, Encino, CA 91436 for mapping apps.

Support for LAist comes from

More info on parking, etc. is here.


Follow county guidelines on face covering and distancing. The Coast Guard requires a personal floatation device when kayaking. Officials encourage you to wear it, along with a helmet and close-toed shoes.

The rec zones will close down if there is any significant rainfall. Visitors are encouraged to keep an eye on the weather.

There’s more info on river safety here.

How Clean is the Water?

According to James Latham, Chief of Operations for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the water in the L.A. river is typically one level below drinking water. He recommends washing hands and equipment after use and trying not to get any water in your mouth. The Bureau of Sanitation has installed sensors that indicate water quality.

For more info on what to know before you go to the L.A. River, check out this FAQ.

What questions do you have about Southern California?