california rafting trips & vacations

South Fork American 1/2 Day PM Gorge Run

North Fork American River is a GO this Spring

50% Off Kids on Weekdays

North Yuba River

Downieville, California /

Level: Intermediate to Advanced /

Class 4-5

Best Spring Rafting!

Class 4 & 5 spring whitewater on the North Yuba river! Our white water rafting trips on the North Yuba River offer uncrowded, more private trips. We are one of the original permit holders for the North Yuba are there are still only 3 permitted outfitters originating in 1981. It is a very special river to us, and we would love to have you join us.

North Yuba River - 2 Day Rafting Trip

starting at


North Yuba River - 1 Day Rafting Trip

starting at


Trip Info

The North Yuba River offers both veterans and active first-timers a variety of whitewater rafting thrills on over 28 miles of river. Raft trips from 1 – 3 days can be combined for varying levels of difficulty. At higher flows previous paddling experience is recommended. However  people who are competent swimmers, athletic and adventurous can enjoy some of these runs when the peak snow melt is over. Even at lower flows, the North Yuba River offers exciting rafting in smaller boats.

Despite the most popular section including the infamous Class 5 Maytag rapid, it occurs towards the end of the run. We always scout this.

The North Yuba River travels through the scenic Tahoe National Forest, and is fed by the snow-melt from the majestic 8000+ peaks of the Sierra Buttes. It is located at the north end of the fabled Mother Lode highway (Hwy 49). The nearby mining towns of Downieville and Sierra City provide rustic charm and great history. There is plentiful camping, a good selection of restaurants, cozy cabins & motels, saloons and historic landmarks.

Great opportunities are available in the area for hiking, fishing and mountain biking. For those travelling from the Bay Area or Sacramento, the towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City are conveniently on your way. They provide unique experiences and accommodations to extend your stay.

Raft California operates under permit from the Tahoe National Forest Yuba River Ranger District and is an equal opportunity service provider.


Where should I stay for my North Yuba Rafting Trip?


  • Tributary Whitewater camp – Sometimes available for overnight guests and groups. Rustic camping with porta-potties and no showers. 1-800-672-3846 or (530) 346-6812
  • Willow Creek Campground – Camptonville, 6 miles west of meeting location. Reservations available, hot showers, water, some electric hook-ups, cabins and tent camping available. 530-288-0646.
  • Tahoe National Forest Campgrounds – Numerous locations along Highway 49 and many on river. Elev. 2200 ft. Vault toilets, most have water. Go to for reservations. In “Where” field enter Indian Valley – Tahoe National Forest. This shows the closest camp to the meeting location, but location map with others within a few miles. Most open last weekend of April. Before that, the sites may show as “not available”, but you can access the camp sites, but no services (and no fees), so bring your own water.

Meeting Location

1 Day Trip Meeting Location:
Boomtown Backyard & Lounge
200 Main St
Downieville, CA 95936

Corner of Nevada St & Main St in Downtown Downieville. Your guides will meet you there and look for our van & rafts! There is parking at that location as well as just through town if needed.

Overnight Trip Meeting Location:
Tributary Camp – Tahoe National Forest
Indian Valley Rd (off Highway 49)
Camptonville, CA, 95922

The North Yuba River flows adjacent to old highway 49 making is a wonderful drive. We encourage our guests to stay in Downieville the night before your rafting trip to ensure on time arrival. It makes for a great vacation get-a-way.

Cell reception is not reliable in this area! Google and Apple Maps usually work, but you will know when you get to Downieville, there is AT&T cell reception in town.