Rating: Class 3
Distance: 21 River Miles
Season: April-Early October
Location: 8 Miles north of Placerville, CA
In the heart of the Gold Rush country, the South Fork of the American River is the most popular river in California, and for good reason. Ideal for groups, families or first-timers, exciting class 3 rapids alternate with calm stretches for practicing new skills or enjoying a swim. Cascading its way from the Sierras and flowing through the town of Coloma, where gold was discovered in 1848, the river tumbles through beautiful scenery rich with history and wildlife. After your rafting adventure, enjoy volleyball, horseshoes, gold panning and excellent fishing. Or, simply relax along the river at our secluded 40-acre camp complete with an outdoor dining area, restrooms, hot showers and changing facilities.
Click thumbnails below to view some South Fork River rafting images.
Our first day of rafting begins with a quick "how to" paddling lesson. The rapids start out small but lively, which gives you a chance to warm up and get to know your crew and guide. After a hearty lunch, we prepare for the "Gorge," where the river narrows, the canyon walls become steeper and boats twist and turn over an exciting series of rapids including "Satan's Cesspool," "Bouncing Rock" and "Hospital Bar."
At the end of the day hot showers await you, and you have a chance to relax and swap survival stories with friends, old and new. Help yourself to a cold glass of beer, wine or soda while our guides prepare a fabulous steak and chicken dinner. Following dinner we provide an entertaining slide show of the days rafting adventure with you as the featured star! Later, a lively combination of storytelling and singing will unfold around the campfire.
The second day kicks off with a superb breakfast before departing for the "Chili Bar" run and more whitewater! The rapids start out wet and wild as we encounter "Meatgrinder" only minutes after launching. From here it's on to "Rock Garden" and "Triple Threat" before reaching the infamous "Troublemaker. " Back at camp you are served a delicious lunch as you savor your adventure and enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow paddlers before saying farewell until the next time!
Our one-day trips consist of a full day of rafting on the "Gorge" section, a hearty lunch on the river, and ice cold refreshments at the end of the day.
Full river trips combine our one-day and half-day trips into 21miles of whitewater excitement. This trip is recommended only for those who don't mind a "lot" of paddling.
We recommend this as a Spring run trip.
These trips take place on the "Chili Bar" section and are for those who desire a short, "no frills" whitewater adventure. Lunch is not included.
Rafting is a terrific opportunity for families to share in an outdoor adventure. On these specially scheduled family trips, each full-paying adult can take one youth on the South Fork of the American River for half-price (age 7-16). No other discounts apply on these trips. Families with more than one child per adult must contact our office prior to reserving space. Trips are available on the following dates:
For those parents who wish to enjoy a couple days of rafting and camping but have children too young to raft, Whitewater Connection offers a program that provides a practical solution. Available on the South Fork of the American, one parent pays full price for a two-day trip and the other parent pays $46.50 for camping and meals (children included). Mom rafts the first day, Dad the second, with each parent spending "quality" family time at our riverside camp fishing, swimming or exploring the adjacent Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. The whole family is together at each meal except the first day's lunch. Call our office for more details.
Children under 16 and accompanied by an adult receive a 10% discount. This does not apply to the transportation portion of trips.