Whitewater Rafting

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

When coming to Coloma, CA, make time to enjoy a whitewater rafting trip on the South Fork American river. The most popular raft tips are half and full day adventures. But even if you only have a few hours to spare, we've got a rafting trip for you from mild to wild! All ages can enjoy the experience, even the little ones. Come on out for a day of fun and adventures on the South Fork American River with one of our many outfitters.

Whitewater rapids are rated Class I-V. Most rafters tend to choose something right in the middle with Class II-III rapids, which you will find on the South Fork American River in Coloma. More difficult runs can be found on the Middle Fork & North Fork of the American River. Whatever you choose you will find challenge, thrills, and adrenaline on your raft trip. Ready for the ride of your life? Rafting is an experience like no other, here are some trips for first timers and adventurers who are coming back after a dry spell.

Understand Seasonal Changes

Mother Nature can't be planned (that's one of the reasons why we love her!), but certain times of the year offer different experiences. Early spring is when the water is really pumping on the North, Middle & South Fork American. Summer brings the best weather for staying comfortable while wet, and fall presents the year's warm days with cool nights along with the colors changing in the canyons.

Conquer Your Fears

Nothing compares to the excitement of whitewater or the peace and confidence that comes with its aftermath. We love seeing a rafter who was bit nervous before their trip return to the camp with a huge smile, already planning when they can get back on the water.

You can do this! And remember, your river guide will be there every moment of the way.

Know What To Expect

After arriving at the outfitter of your choice and checking in, you will gear up and make your way to the staging area. Before you get it the river, your guide will chat through all the safety protocols you need to know. The rafts are professional grade and built to withstand intense rapids, boulders and the nature of the river. Your river guide is a professional who sits in the back of the raft, navigating your group's direction while you and the other rafters act as the driving force to power through the rapids. Your guide will give instructions for when and how to paddle, and they will share their knowledge and expertise about our rivers and region.

Dress Accordingly

Think quick-dry shorts, bathing suits, or a waterproof rash guard. We suggest avoiding cotton since it can't insulate your body once it's wet (especially in colder conditions). Flip Flops are a big NO, so make sure to bring sturdy shoes that will stay on your feet. You will be provided with a life jacket, helmet, and paddle. Each outfitter will supply you with thh pre-trip information that will detail your clothing and equipment needs.

Be Present

Rafting is an active-participation sport, so stay in the moment and paddle with your guides direction. Thankfully, being present is little easier when your are surrounded by the beauty of the American River Canyon's. Most of all focus on the fun!

To find the right outfitter for your trip call around and ask questions. You will find all the outfitters contact information below in our directory.

Photo Courtesy of Hotshot Imaging

Experience And Have Your Own Gear?

Private rafters and kayakers 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.

Make sure you’re not going to get in over your head or be left high and dry. Check the flows before you head to the river.

Dreamflows will give you the latest flow information.

Looking for a shuttle? A daily membership fee of $10 per person includes a seat on one of their 14-passenger air-conditioned vans. Each van hauls a trailer rigged to convey your boats and gear safely from one of our many shuttle stops to your destination.

Check out the Coloma Shuttle.

Whitewater Rafting
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.

Whitewater Rafting