The American River is the most popular whitewater rafting destination in California, and for good reason! The South Fork’s action-packed Class III rapids are rollicking good fun for the entire family. The Middle Fork of the American combines challenging Class IV rapids with miles of beautiful wilderness scenery. And the North Fork sparkles with Class IV spring run-off thrills and pristine beauty. All three rivers also feature Class II sections perfect for family float trips or anyone looking for relaxation without the adrenaline factor.

Rafting with a Commercial Outfitter

Commercial whitewater rafting outfitters offer a wide variety of river experiences. Looking for wilderness camping? Bed and breakfast? Budget brown bag lunch? Fine wines and gourmet meals? Half day or two-day overnight? Bus from Sacramento, the Bay Area, South Lake Tahoe, Reno, or even Los Angeles? Prices vary a lot depending on the amenities, so shop until you find what best suits your group.

You can expect any outfitter to provide both experienced guides and all the necessary equipment, including rafts, paddles, and life jackets. You’ll need to bring all your personal items: sunscreen, rugged “wettable” clothes, old tennis shoes, a hat that can be tied to your head, and a gung-ho attitude. Early in the season (through May and sometimes June) you will need a wetsuit, which you can rent either from your outfitter or from The River Store in Lotus.

The outfitters listed below are all licensed to operate on the American River. Contact them directly to find out what they offer and to book your trip.

  • Adventure-Connection
    Adventure Connection

    Thanks, El Nino! From mild to wild we offer 1/2, 1 and 2-day adventures for kids 7 to 75! Call today and be on the river this afternoon! (800) 556-6060

  • All Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting
    All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting

    One of California’s few original outfitters with over 50 years experience rafting ten California rivers. More people choose All-Outdoors making us the largest, most experienced outfitter on the American Rivers. 800-247-2387

  • Earthtrek Expeditions American River Rafting
    EarthTrek Expeditions

    Mild to wild whitewater rafting trips American River since 1977. Beautiful private river front camp with grass lawn, game areas and large deluxe cabin tents. Generous group and family discounts. 800-229-8735

  • Mother Lode River Center
    Mother Lode River Trips

    Enjoy rafting combined with our Challenger Rope Course at the premier west coast, multi-sport River Center. Celebrating over 40 years of Safety, Leadership and Stewardship on the American River. 530-626-4187

  • O.A.R.S.-Whitewater-Rafting
    O.A.R.S. American River Rafting

    First-class whitewater rafting on the South, Middle, and North Fork of the American River, Tuolumne, Merced, and North Fork of the Stanislaus since 1969. Book online and save! 800-346-6277

  • Whitewater-Excitement
    Whitewater Excitement

    Since 1978, Whitewater Excitement, Inc. has offered 5-star river rafting adventure on the American River. Family operated and family friendly with trip for kids ad young as 4. Experience the difference. 800-750-2386

  • Tributary-Whitewater-Tours
    Tributary Whitewater Tours

    Whitewater rafting on the 3 forks of the American River and many others. Special trips where kids raft half-price and other discounts available. Express runs to 3+ days. April-September. 800-672-3846

  • Beyond Limits whitewater rafting
    Beyond Limits Adventures

    Our fabulous riverfront camp resort provides the most deluxe rafting experience in the west. We specialize in custom itineraries. Prices start at $65 pp, groups of 6 or more get a 20% discount. 800-234-7238

  • Rise Up Web Logo 150px
    Rise Up River Trips

    Rise Up River Trips is dedicated to providing people with the Spirit of Discovery, Love for Adventure, and Unforgettable Experiences!  Please join us on the American River. (800) 323-RAFT

  • WET River Trips
    WET River Trips

    California Whitewater rafting W.E.T. River Trips since 1978 with professional guides on American River. Call: 888.723.8938 for reservations or questions. Like Us! 888 RAFT-WET, 888-723-8938

  • rock n water logo
    Rock-N-Water-Christian Adventure Camp

    Christian Adventure Camp designed for youth groups. An assortment of 1 to 5 day adventures. 800-738-0555

  • Action-Whitewater-Adventures
    Action Whitewater Adventures

    We have new gear, an amazing international staff, and we love what we do. Youth specialists. 1-7 day excursions. 888-922-8466

  • Whitewater-Connection
    Whitewater Connection

    Whitewater Connection offers exciting 1/2-day, one-day and 2-day whitewater trips for beginners to advanced paddlers. Beautiful scenery, best river front campground in the valley! An abundance of FUN! 800-336-7238

  • American-Whitewater-Expeditions
    American Whitewater Expeditions

    Offering fun, exciting, rafting adventures on 3 Forks of the American River since 1980. Best value guaranteed! 1/2 , 1 and 2 day trips include camping, pool and Wi-Fi. Generous Discounts. 800-825-3205, 530-642-0804

  • American River Recreation logo
    American River Recreation

    Providing high quality rafting trips since 1979. We offer trips for all skill levels. Family friendly floats start at just $49. Same day reservations welcomed. 1/4-day to 3-day trips available. 800-333-7238, 530-622-6802

  • ARTA River Trips
    ARTA River Trips

    Friendly guides, healthy food, family style non-profit since 1963. We run fantastic river trips on the best rivers in the West. 1-3 day trips in California. 800-323-2782

  • river runners logo
    River Runners

    Specializing in inspired rafting trips since 1976. Unplug, unwind and have an adventure you will never forget! 530-622-5110

  • Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

    Offering over 33 years of safe and exciting whitewater rafting trips on the American River. 800-462-7424 or 530-626-6049

  • Rubicon Whitewater Adventures

    Rubicon believes in direct passenger participation during your river adventure. Whitewater rafting specialists since 1972. 707-887-2452 or 707-477-4037

Decided You Want to Row Your Own?

Private rafters can find more information on the whitewater kayaking page. And in the Logistics & Trip Planning section you’ll find lots of resources for those rowing or paddling their own boats, including information about river conditions.