American River Rafting

The most popular Whitewater Rafting destination in California!

There are a wide range of American River rafting trips located between San Francisco/Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, located in the heart of the Gold Country. The South Fork American, North Fork American, Middle Fork American, and Lower Middle Fork American Rivers provide trips for all ages March thru October in some years.  We offer several trips with different levels of ability, experience, and age – providing something for everyone!

The easiest American River rafting trips are suitable for families and groups with children ages 4 and up. Intermediate rafting is perfect for most kids (ages 7-8+) and suitable for non-swimmers and first timers alike. There is also whitewater rafting for the most experienced and for the adventurous first time rafter. Be sure to check on our weekday Family Specials where kids raft with discounts of 50% on selected 2 day trips.

Pick an American River rafting trip from just a few hours or a few days. Trips from 2-5 days include your meals & camping. We also offer Canvas Tents Rentals for a little more glamping on the South Fork American River. Facilities also include showers and flush toilets. Wilderness style trips are offered as well, where we take the gear on the river and pull over at secluded locations.

The South Fork American River and Middle Fork American River have the most reliable flows and longest season for white water rafting in California, due to upstream dams. The North Fork American is free flowing and usually available in the Spring. The three forks of the American River are truly an exceptional resource. Rafting trips are located close to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay Area. Escape the city into the wilderness. We hope you join us for some memorable whitewater rafting on the American River.

Frequently Asked Questions about American River Rafting

How long is American River Rafting?

American River rafting can be as short as a half day trip, a full day of rafting, or even a multi-day rafting & camping adventure. The 3 forks of the American offer a variety of trips that range from 4 miles to 30+.

  • The South Fork American River is 21 miles long from Chili Bar down to Folsom Lake. All 21 miles can be rafted in 1 day (our Full River Trip) or there are several sections for shorter trip options:
    • Lotus Run – 4 miles from Marshall Gold Discovery Park to our camp (Class 2 only for younger kids ages 4+)
    • Upper Chili Bar Run – 10 miles from Chili Bar to our riverside Camp (Class 2-3+, ages 7+)
    • Lower Gorge Run – 11 miles from our camp to Folsom Lake (Class 2-3+, ages 7+)
  • The Middle Fork American River sections we run total in 25 miles from Oxbow Dam to Mammoth Bar OHV Park. The upper section of this is Class 4 and the lower is Class 2. The river flows for several more miles to Folsom Lake:
  • The North Fork American River flows freely for about 33 miles from the Granite Chief Wilderness area in Tahoe National Forest to the Clementine Dam in Auburn. The upper sections are not commercially run, but the lower sections provide spring rafting when flows are good:
    • Chamberlain Falls Run – 9 miles from Iowa Hill to Ponderosa Bridge (Class 4 for ages 14+)
    • Lower North Fork American – 9 miles from Ponderosa Bridge to Upper Lake Clementine (usually Class 2 for ages 4+)

Where does American River Rafting End?

American River Rafting trips end at all types of different locations based on the run you are rafting. Most trips meet at a designated location and we will shuttle guests to/from the river as needed.

Class 2

Beginner Rafting Trips for Families
Ages 4+

These rafting trips are ideal for non-swimmers who want some fun and exciting rapids! Overnight trips with camping and meals are available on most rivers making them a great option for youth groups looking for an outdoor experience!

Class 3-3+​

Beginner Rafting Trips for Families
Ages 7+

These rafting trips are ideal for non-swimmers who want some fun and exciting rapids! Overnight trips with camping and meals are available on most rivers making them a great option for youth groups looking for an outdoor experience!

Class 4

Intermediate/Advanced Rafting Trips for Families​
Ages 14+

These are our most popular trips, please visit our Class 4 Rafting Trip page for more options.