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American River

Basics
Location:
Lake Tahoe to Sacramento
River:
American River
Class:
Class II - V
River Length
Up to 20 miles
Time:
Over 4 days
Season:
April to October

Description

Some rivers are wild and some are gentle and some are an exciting hybrid of both. The American River is a hybrid. Although its forks are never so gentle as to be a float trip, a beginning rafter won't be intimidated away. Conversely, the most experienced of experienced rafters won't be disappointed.

The American River has three forks, which flow out wide from their source. The South Fork is the most popular river-run west of the Rocky Mountains, and is also the least difficult of the forks to raft - which is never to say boring. The Middle Fork is a fork for intermediate rafters, but occasionally and famously gets very intense. The North Fork is an experts-only river-run, notable for its beauty - and its brutality.

The Lower American, where the forks converge, flows quietly alongside Sacramento. If swimming or wading a river is appealing after a day of frantic steering, the Lower American certainly doesn't get fast enough to raft.

North Fork - Giant Gap

The famous Giant Gap 14-mile run of the even more famous North Fork American River is one of California's top whitewater challenges, for experts only. Cliffs tower 2,000 feet above the river. Parts of this Class V run are so rough that you might end up believing that some of those 2,000 foot cliffs are under the water.

Middle Fork

Rafters run the entire stretch of the Middle Fork American River in crystal clear water, alternating between mile Class I and II, and a few scattered III and IV rapids. The highlight of the Middle Fork is Tunnel Chute, a 90 foot tunnel blasted by gold rush miners.

South Fork

With nothing above a class III, the South Fork of the American river is the most popular stretch, and a several day trip along the fork's length explores some of the most rugged and diverse landscapes in the Sierra Nevadas. The South Fork is a standard for California whitewater rafting.

Rafting

The famous Giant Gap 14-mile run of the even more famous North Fork American River is one of California's top whitewater challenges, for experts only. Cliffs tower 2,000 feet above the river. Parts of this Class V run are so rough that you might end up believing that some of those 2'000 foot cliffs are under the water.

Tour Companies

  • Near Yosemite / Kings Canyon / Sequoia
  • Rafting
  • 209-532-6249

Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions The best of California whitewater rafting is what you will find at Zephyr Whitewater. Since 1973, we have offered exceptional California whitewater trips on the Kings, Tuolumne, Merced, and American rivers, all near Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks. Our California whitewater rafting trips are great for families, for the first-timer rafter, and for the advanced thrill seeker.

River Details

Setting:
Mountains
Class:
Class II - V
River Length
Up to 20 miles
Time
Over 4 days
1/4 day to 2 days
Season:
April to October
Nearest Town
Sacramento
Guides Available?
Yes

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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