Is the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone managed by the MRCA open for 2020?

Yes, the two LA River recreation zones managed by the MRCA—in Elysian Valley and in the Sepulveda Basin in Encino are open. However, no in-water activity including kayaking and boating can be allowed this year. The zones are open for the public to enjoy walking, bird watching, and fishing along the river. All public health protocols, including six-foot physical distancing and cloth face coverings are required in the recreation zones.

 If fishing is allowed in the LA River Recreation Zones, why not individual kayaking? I’m certainly not going to be within 6′ of anyone while I’m floating in a single kayak, and I’m not planning on going with anyone else.

There are no established public health guidelines for COVID-19 transmission in the Los Angeles River and it is not possible for MRCA to make a safety determination for in-water use of the river by the public without such guidelines. In addition, responding to kayaking injuries and mishaps—which is a common occurrence throughout each season—would require MRCA rangers, as first responders, to breach the six-foot distancing barrier mandated by public health orders. The MRCA simply cannot put its personnel in this precarious position.

Because the safety of all cannot be assured, the difficult decision had to be made to close water activity, including kayaking and non-steerable boating, in the LA River Recreation Zone for this year until the public health crisis eases.

Activities such as fishing, walking, and bird watching are welcomed as long as visitors practice public health protocols including six-foot physical distancing and wearing cloth face coverings.

Where is the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone?

The MRCA administers two recreation zones, each in part of the river where it has a soft bottom and natural habitat and wildlife flourishes.

Access to the Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone is at MRCA-managed Rattlesnake Park at Fletcher Drive north of Riverside Drive or at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park (formerly Marsh Park) at 2999 Rosanna Street or 2944 Gleneden Street in Elysian Valley.

The Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone extends two miles from approximately Balboa Boulevard in the Sepulveda basin (south of Victory Boulevard) to just west of Woodley Avenue.

Access to the the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Zone is west of Woodley Avenue on Burbank Boulevard – The approximate address is 16212 Burbank Boulevard, Encino, CA 91436.  Access is also allowed at Balboa Boulevard north of Victory Boulevard.  The exit point is just west of Woodley Avenue.  Parking is on Woodley Avenue.

How will I know if I am in the Recreation Zone and what I can do there?

Signage, including rules signs will be posted. The zone will be clearly marked. Learn more on our signage page.

Does the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone include the bike path or the maintenance roads along the Los Angeles River?


No.  The Los Angeles River Recreation Zones are in designated areas in Elysian Valley and the Sepulveda Basin and only include the river channel itself, and five feet up the slope of the channel. The Zone does not include the remaining banks or the existing bike path or the maintenance road on the banks above the river channel.

Do I have to pay or get a permit to use the Recreation Zone?

There is no kayaking or boating this year in 2020. In a regular season, for individual users, there is no need for a permit and use of the river is free.  Organized groups must obtain a permit from the MRCA, for which there is a fee.  Information about permits is available here. 


What kind of boat can I use in the recreation zone?

There is no kayaking or boating this year in 2020. Non-motorized, steerable boats such as kayaks or canoes are usually permitted but not this year in 2020. 

Can I use an inner tube or pool raft?

No. Only non-motorized, steerable boats are permitted. There is no kayaking or boating this year in 2020.

Where do I park?

In Elysian Valley:  There is four-hour parking on Fletcher Drive on the City street. There is free public parking at MRCA-managed Marsh Park which provides access to the river bike path.  Parking is also available downstream adjacent to Confluence Park under the 2 freeway at Home Depot.

 In the Sepulveda BasinThere is ample street parking near the trip location north of Burbank Boulevard on Woodley Avenue.  There is also a parking  lot adjacent to the put-in area on Balboa Boulevard. 

How do I get my boat down to the river?  Are there any ramps?

No kayaking or boating is allowed this year in 2020. The River Guide of the Elysian Valley Recreation Zone and the map of the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone provide guidance regarding the “put-in” location. Participants must carry their boats from street parking to the put-in point. Care must be taken when walking on the trapezoidal riverbank. 

Are there guided trips?

Not this year in 2020.  In the Elysian Valley, Friends of the Los Angeles River in partnership with L.A. River Kayak Safari will operate guided trips L.A. River Expeditions will also operate guided tours. L.A. River Kayaks provide kayaks in the Elysian Valley at Lewis MacAdams Riverfront Park (formely Marsh Park). 

Can we rent kayaks?

Not this year in 2020.  You will find further information on private outfitters that rent kayaks at both location here. 

How difficult are the runs?

The Elysian valley trip is physically challenging. Typically, flows range between Class I and II, but water conditions are subject to change without notice. There are sections when participants must portage, and/or walk their boats past low flow areas. As with any river, scout ahead. A river guide is available, but river conditions are subject to change without notice. 

 The Sepulveda Basin trip typically has Class I flows, and the water is easy to paddle in.  However, there are three places where it may be difficult to navigate one’s boat over rocks, and the kayaker will likely need to get out of the boat and portage and/or walk their boats over the rocks. 

Where can I fish?

Fishing is allowed in the Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone on the banks, five feet up from the slopeof the channel, or from a boat.

In the Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone, fishing is allowed from a boat, or on the non-restricted banks (see map).  

 How did this program come about?

For more than 20 years, the MRCA and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy have been working together with federal, state, and local government, and community organizations to transform the Los Angeles River into a continuous 51-mile recreational greenway to enhance neighborhoods, improve water quality, and promote public health.  Since 2002, the MRCA has been working with the City of Los Angeles and other partners to promote revitalization of the Los Angeles River.  A hugely successful pilot non-motorized boating program was initiated in the Sepulveda Basin stretch of the river in August 2011.  A pilot recreation zone in Elysian Valley was established by the City of Los Angeles with the cooperation of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2013.  Building on the success and popularity of that program, two river recreation zones were established in 2014.  Councilmember Mitch O’ Farrell was instrumental in obtaining sponsorship of the Los Angeles River Recreation Zone.  

What role does each of the project partners play in the management of the Los Angeles river?

The city is the largest landowner in the Program area and possesses rights to the river’s water; the County Flood Control District holds an easement in the project area for flood control purposes; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides flood control operations and maintenance services in the area; the MRCA owns and manages parks along the river in the Program area.  The MRCA is administering the river recreation program in both areas. 


 How do I get more information?

Contact us at 

Or call (310) 858-7272 x 300