Join OARS for a classic California whitewater rafting adventure on the American River near Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, the Merced or Tuolumne River near Yosemite, or the legendary Stanislaus River into Big Trees State Park. Hike the wilds of Yosemite National Park with our naturalist hiking guides or consider a family vacation on Northern California’s family-friendly Lower Klamath River. OARS has been providing first-class California whitewater rafting and adventure travel vacations for more than 45 years. We know how to create the magic on a classic California river rafting trip—stunning western scenery, exciting whitewater rapids, top-notch equipment, great food, and captivating companionship. We provide rafting trips on six Northern California rivers, rated Class II-IV+; and whether you are a beginner or an expert, we have a California rafting trip to suit your thirst for adventure. Our elite crew of professional and enthusiastic California river rafting guides will carefully guide you down these scenic rivers for the adventure of a lifetime.

The majority of OARS California whitewater rafting and hiking adventures are within a half-day’s journey from San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and Yosemite National Park. OARS California rafting trips run March through September, offering you a plethora of rafting trip options whether you are looking for a family vacation in California, a mid-week escape from work, a weekend reprieve from the summer heat, a creative and unique idea for a bachelor or bachelorette party or just an excuse to brag amongst your friends at the water cooler!

California River Rapids


South Fork American River Rafting


Rafting on the South Fork of the American River near Sacramento offers classic California whitewater: crisp, clear, refreshing water flowing over spectacular granite rocks and boulders. The South Fork of the American River in California provides an ideal balance of adrenaline and fun for families with kids as young as seven. We offer half-day American River rafting on the South Fork of the American River, full-day trips with lunch and wildly fun two-day American River rafting adventures from April – September.

Whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the American River offers what will surely be the most memorable rapid of your life: Tunnel Chute. This exciting rapid drops through a steep chute into frothy, churning water, after which it passes through a 90-ft long tunnel. And that’s just one of six Class IV rapids on the Middle Fork American. Join us for a spectacular one-day Middle Fork American River rafting adventure.



The Tuolumne River is the crown jewel of California whitewater rafting trips; it’s less than four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area and minutes from the northern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The Tuolumne cascades through a spectacular Wild and Scenic river canyon offering a true outdoor adventure experience. Our Tuolumne River rafting trips are ideal for first-time campers, as we typically stop for the night at cozy riverside locations. We offer one-day Tuolumne rafting options for those who don’t care to camp, as well as two- and three-day trips from March through early September. Tuolumne River rafting trips are rated Class IV, with one or two rapids reaching Class V during spring runoff periods.

California rafting on the Merced River is a must-do if you plan to visit Yosemite in spring or early summer. The Wild and Scenic Merced River is located alongside Highway 140 near Yosemite National Park’s Arch Rock Entrance. The Merced’s whitewater is famous for its fun rollercoaster wave trains and spring wildflowers. We offer a one-day Merced River rafting adventure from April – June/July with rapids rated Class III-IV with some Merced rapids reaching Class V during spring runoff periods.

California River Landscape



Rafting the Wild and Scenic Lower Klamath River in Northern California near the Oregon border is the perfect family rafting adventure for those with young children. The Klamath River has fun, bouncy rapids, warm swimming holes, diverse wildlife and a range of recreational opportunities. This river is also an ideal place to learn how to use an inflatable kayak. We offer a 3-day Lower Klamath Rafting trip (Class II) which your kids will just rave about!