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.
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. malode.com
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. AOrafting.com
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! oars.com/california
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions
Description-Offering over 33 years of safe and exciting whitewater rafting trips on the American River. mariahrafting.com
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! facebook.com/raftwet raftwet.com
888 RAFT-WET, 888-723-8938
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. arrafting.com
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. whitewatertours.com
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. www.riverrunnersusa.com (530) 622 5110
Specializing in adventures for families and Church youth groups. Our Christian staff will take you rafting, rock climbing and hiking on 1 to 5 day fully customizable adventures. 800-738-0555 www.rocknwater.com rocknwater.com
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 shuttle fee $10.00 per boater picks up you and your gear. 530-303-2404
The River Store
Kayaking-Rafting-Camping. Sales, rentals & World Class Kayak Instruction. Clothing, snacks, drinks, sundries and outdoor accessories. Visitor’s info, local experts, maps & books. Over 32 years in Lotus! email@example.com
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. americanwhitewater.com
Thanks to the rain gods! 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! raftcalifornia.com
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. earthtrekexpeditions.com
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. whitewaterexcitement.com
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. arta.org
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! whitewaterconnection.com
Action Whitewater Adventures
We have new gear, an amazing international staff, and we love what we do. Youth specialists. 1-7 day excursions. actionwhitewater.com
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. rivertrip.com
A local family operated company specializing in professional guided trips on the American and Yuba rivers. Book your ‘best day ever’ experience with us.. otherwise we’ll splash you. (:
Sierra Nevada Photos
We capture all your exciting whitewater memories. Come visit our family operated studio with friendly knowledgeable staff. If it happened on the river WE GOT IT! We also shoot portraits, events and weddings. 835 Lotus Rd @ Corner of HWY 49 www.sierranevadaphotos.net
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rubicon Whitewater Adventures
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.