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

River Runners Inc.

River Runners Inc.

5461 Bassi Rd, Lotus, CA 95651

Enjoy the thrill of whitewater rafting without being rushed. We provide high quality, all-inclusive rafting adventures. Your meals are always fresh, and your guides are always fun and professional. www.riverrunnersusa.com 530-622-5110

All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting

All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting

1026 Lotus Rd, Lotus, CA 95651

We are a family-owned outfitter with over 60 years of experience professionally guiding whitewater rafting trips on 10 of California's best rivers. Ages 5 and up. 1/2 day to multi-day trips available! www.aorafting.com 800-247-2387

Coloma Shuttle

Coloma Shuttle

7308 Hwy 49 Ste F, Lotus, CA 95651

Our private boater shuttles are arranged so that you can eliminate the hassle of "the shuttle" out of your day and the carbon monoxide out of the environment. colomashuttle.com 530-303-2404

Rock-N-Water

Rock-N-Water

6580 Hwy 49, Lotus , CA 95651

Specializing in adventures for families and Church youth groups. Our Christian staff will take your rafting, rock climbing and hiking on 1 to 5 day full customizable adventures. www.rocknwater.com 800-738-0555

WET River Trips

WET River Trips

5461 Bassi Rd., Lotus, CA 95613

WET River Trips has been creating memorable whitewater rafting adventures on the American River since 1978. Our team of whitewater professionals know how to craft an unbeatable experience for the young and young at heart. Half, full and multi-day... www.raftwet.com 888-723-8938

Whitewater Excitement

Whitewater Excitement

6580 Hwy 49, Lotus, CA 95651

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

ARTA River Trips

ARTA River Trips

3782 Winding Creek Ln, Lotus , CA 95651

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. www.arta.org 209-962-7873

O.A.R.S. American River Rafting

O.A.R.S. American River Rafting

7330 River Park Dr, Lotus, CA 95651

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! www.oars.com 855-541-4792

American Whitewater Expeditions

American Whitewater Expeditions

5981 New River Rd, Coloma, CA 95613

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. www.americanwhitewater.com 530-642-0804

American River Recreation, Inc. (rafting)

American River Recreation, Inc. (rafting)

6019 New River Rd, Coloma, CA 95613

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. www.arrafting.com 530-622-6802

Raft California

Raft California

6500 CA-49, Lotus, CA 95651

California Whitewater Rafting OVER 12 RIVERS TO CHOOSE FROM — From 1/2 day trips to multi-day wilderness adventures we have a river rafting trip for you! We have California white water rafting trips perfect for all ages (+) as well as large... www.raftcalifornia.com (530) 626-7385

Junior Guide Raft Camp

Junior Guide Raft Camp

7310 Hwy 49, Lotus , CA 95651

An Educational non-profit summer camp providing youth aged 6-16 with river safety and rafting education. We are in our 10th year of teaching adventure, leadership, and teamwork. www.juniorguides.org 916-616-2317

Hotshot Imaging

Hotshot Imaging

7308 Hwy 49 Ste D, Lotus, CA 95651

California's largest whitewater rafting photography company taking over 1 million pictures per summer on the South & Middle Fork of the American River. All images are posted on our website each day for viewing/purchasing. www.hotshotimaging.com 530-621-0400

Action Whitewater Adventures

Action Whitewater Adventures

7421 Hwy 49, Lotus, CA 95651

From thrill to chill. Refreshing family fun from mild to wild. www.actionwhitewater.com 530-621-1315

Whitewater Connection

Whitewater Connection

7420 Hwy 49, Lotus , CA 95651

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! Family-operated and family-friendly with... www.whitewaterconnection.com 530-622-6446

Mother Lode River Center

6280 CA-49, Lotus, CA 95651

You get everything you want in California whitewater rafting with three forks of the American River to choose from, ranging from mild to wild! See for yourself why we have the most popular rafting trips in the state. www.malode.com (530) 626-4187