Boating in the foothills is largely confined to several large reservoirs. Here, sailboats, water-ski boats and jet skiers crisscross the waters. Several marinas provide docking space and other amenities. Lakes and marinas include Bullards Bar Recreational Area (northeast of Nevada City), Lake Almanor (near Chester), Bucks Lake (near Quincy), Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (east of Oroville), Englebright Lake (north of Nevada City), French Meadows, (east of Foresthill), Union Valley Reservoir (northeast of Placerville), Lake Amador, Lake Camanche, Pardee Reservoir and Hogary Reservoir (all west of Jackson), New Melones Lake and Don Pedro Reservoir (south of Sonora).

Folsom State Recreation Area

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area

Whitewater rafting is a huge industry in the region.