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.
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
OARS 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! 855-541-4792
WET River Trips
Focusing on quality over quantity for over 40 years. Guaranteed best experience, price and most experienced guides, for any group size or type! 10% discount code “CLG” 888 RAFT-WET
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
Hotshot Imaging, Inc.
California’s largest whitewater rafting photography company taking over 1 million pictures per summer on the South & Middle Forks of the American River. All images are posted on our website each day for viewing/purchasing. www.hotshotimaging.com 530-621-0400
Offering whitewater adventures on over 13 rivers including the forks of the American River. From Mild to Wild, ages 4+! 1/2 day, 1 day and overnights trips available March- September. 530-626-7385
The Coloma Shuttle is a private boater shuttle service on the South Fork of the American River funded by a grant from the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District. Our low-cost membership fee $10.00 per boater picks up you and your gear. 530-303-2404
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
Mild to wild whitewater rafting trips on the American River since 1977. Beautiful private river front camp with nice landscaping, game area and large deluxe tent cabins. Ask about our group discounts. 800-229-8735
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 as young as 4. Experience the difference. 800-750-2386
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
Relax and enjoy the thrill of whitewater rafting without being rushed. We are a boutique company that provides high quality customer service, amazing meals and expert guides for your adventure. 530-622 5110
Specializing in customizable 1-5 day adventures for families and youth groups, our staff is ready to deliver amazing adventures, legendary meals, and hospitality with heart. Expect to experience God! 530-621-3918
Sierra Whitewater Rafting
Family-operated whitewater rafting company running thrilling half and full-day adventure trips for all ages on all three forks of the American River. Fun-filled and safety-oriented. Best value. 530-368-9027
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 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 trips for kids as young as 4. 800-336-7238
Junior Guides Raft Camp
An Educational non-profit summer camp providing youth aged 6-16 with river safety and rafting education. 916-616-2317 916-626-2317
Sierra Nevada Photos
We take pictures of all whitewater fun, if it happened on the river we have it. 530-401-0088530-401-0088
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.