American River

South Fork

  • Length: 21 miles
  • Duration: 1 - 2 days
  • Difficulty: Class III
  • Best Rapid: Meatgrinder
  • Rec. Level: 1,200 - 6,000 cfs
  • Put-in: Chill Bar or Lotus
  • Take-out: Lotus or Salmon Falls
  • Season: April - September

South Fork of the American with All OutdoorsThe South Fork of the American River is California’s most popular rafting trip and for good reason.  For starters, the river is fun, exciting, and accessible.  If you’ve never rafted before, this is the place to start!  But many people, even after a lifetime of whitewater rafting trips, come back to the banks of the South Fork year after year.  In spring, they come to see Mt. Murphy carpeted in glorious orange poppies, in summer for respite from the blazing heat, and in fall to see the river at its most relaxed, quiet, and reflective.

The South Fork is most often rafted one section at a time by people who only want to spend one day on the river.  The upper section, or “Chili Bar” run begins with a bang, charging headlong into Meatgrinder, and ending with a placid float through the Gold Discovery State Historic Park.  Your raft will float right by the famous sawmill where gold was discovered in 1848.  The lower, or “Gorge Run” begins with mellow class II rapids and ends with a bang as the river narrows and enters the class III gorge above Folsom Lake.  Many people do both sections and camp overnight in between.

Middle Fork

  • Length: 16 miles
  • Duration: 1 - 3 days
  • Difficulty: Class IV
  • Best Rapid: Tunnel Chute
  • Rec. Level: 900 - 1,700 cfs
  • Put-in: Oxbow
  • Take-out: Greenwood
  • Season: May - September

Middle Fork of the American River with All OutdoorsRich in Gold Rush history, winding through an isolated wilderness canyon, and punctuated by fantastic intermediate whitewater, the Middle Fork of the American is a hard river to beat. The most famous feature of this river is Tunnel Chute Rapid. Steep, powerful, and unlike anything else, this rapid was actually made by miners during the Gold Rush when they diverted the water to better access gold deposits in the riverbed. Today, the resulting rapid is gorgeous sluice of pure white that ends with a float through a 90 foot tunnel of solid rock.

The Middle Fork’s charms extend to the canyon itself, which is isolated and beautiful. People on overnight trips get to explore side hikes and remote swimming holes as well. Even though the Middle Fork is an easy drive from Sacramento and the Bay Area, its quiet canyon feels a world away from modern life.

North Fork

  • Length: 9 miles
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Difficulty: Class IV
  • Best Rapid: Chamberlain Falls
  • Rec. Level: 1,000 - 3,000 cfs
  • Put-in: Colfax - Iowa Hill Bridge
  • Take-out: Ponderosa Way
  • Season: April - May

North Fork of the American River with All OutdoorsTrips on the North Fork of the American are fleeting flashes in the pan of springtime California rafting. As soon as the snowmelt starts high in the Sierra Nevada the doors are open to rafters looking for high adventure…….but they close just as quickly because the North Fork is a free-flowing river, unregulated by dams. The short season is sweet, however, because the North Fork’s clear green waters and bold granite walls create a stunning backdrop for a day of challenging and demanding whitewater rafting.

The whitewater begins immediately below put-in as rafts enter the Chamberlain Falls Gorge. Steep and technical, rapids like seven-foot Chamberlain Falls and Staircase are best attempted by rafters with previous paddling experience and a healthy taste for adrenaline.

To book your trip on the American River call All-Outdoors Rafting at 800.24.RAFTS!