california rafting trips & vacations

North Yuba River

Highway 49 Between Downieville and Camptonville, Ca – Near Indian Valley Campground /

Level: Intermediate to Advanced /

Class 4-5

Best Spring Rafting!

Class 4 & 5 spring whitewater on the North Yuba river!

The North Fork 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 Fork 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.

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.

The North Fork 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.

Rafting Trips On The North Yuba River
How long do you want to go?
Meeting Location

9:30 am at Raft California Camp: near Indian Valley Campground, Camptonville, CA. 10 miles east of Camptonville, 10 miles west of Downieville. See map.

Parking is on right side of Indian Valley Rd. past the well house just before road loops back to Hwy 49. Look for the Raft California Vehicles!

Please be on time and note that there is no real address for this location. If you want to get a close destination, use 5151 Golden Chain Hwy, Camptonville, CA 95922 – this is approximately 2,000 ft. from the right turn on Indian Valley Rd. Can also use Indian Valley Campground, Camptonville, CA from Google maps.

Note that cell reception is pretty non-existent past Nevada City so if you are running late or need to contact us please do so in Nevada City or use the pay phone from Indian Valley Outpost Resort located on Hwy 49.

GPS Coordinates provided by Tahoe National Forest: Latitude:+39° 30′ 48.79″, Longitude -120° 58′ 58.91″. PLEASE NOTE THAT GPS DIRECTIONS ARE OFTEN INCORRECT AND WE HAVE MANY CLIENTS WHO USE GPS AND GET REALLY LOST. Please use our map in conjunction with any other mapping device/method you use, and try and stay aware of exactly where you. Cell phone reception is also not always available in these rural areas. We cannot be responsible for you getting lost and missing your trip.

Area Information

Downieville: offers the closest hotel and inn accommodations (10 miles NE of meeting place).

  • The Downieville Loft – 208 Main St., Downieville. Newly remodeled, 2700 sq ft, in heart of town overlooking the Yuba River. Sleeps 8-11 in 2700 sq ft accommodations. Booked thru AirBnB.
  • The Lure Resort – 100 Lure Bridge Ln., Downieville 13 beautiful river front acres with housekeeping cabins & log cabins. 530-289-3465.
  • Downieville River (Durgan Flat) Inn – 121 River St., Downieville. Heated pool, sauna, BBQ’s and picnic tables. 800-696-3308 or (530) 289-3308
  • The Riverside Inn – 206 Commercial St., Downieville. 11 rooms on with river views, AAA approved. (888) 883-5100 or (530) 289-1000
  • Carriage House Inn and Vacation Rentals – 110 Commercial St., Downieville. 8 rooms and 2 guest houses, on river. 800-296-2289 or (530) 289-3573.
  • Sierra Shangri-La – 2.5 miles N. of Downieville. Cottages and B&B. (530) 289-3455

Grass Valley/Nevada City: 38-42 miles, 45 minutes SW of meeting place. Convenient stop-off for clients traveling from Sacramento. Great restaurants, gas lights, horse drawn carriages.

Camptonville and Downieville: offer the closest accommodations

  • Indian Valley Outpost Resort – 4601 CA-49, Camptonville, CA 95922. (530)-289-3349. Creek side setting only minutes from our meeting location. Rentals include a 4 bedroom cabin, 29′ 2 bed RV and 18′ tepees. Also RV sites, store, bar & restaurant.
  • Willow Creek Campground – Camptonville, 6 miles west of meeting location. Reservations available, hot showers, water, some electric hook-ups, laundry and game room. Creek side cabins and tent camping available. 530-288-0646.
  • Camp Yuba and Streamside Cabins – 5 miles N. of Downieville. Cabins and RV spaces. (530) 289-3379
  • Packer Lake Lodge – 45 minutes NE of meeting location. Cabins on a lake. (530) 862-1221 or (650) 649-8076.
  • Carriage House Inn and Vacation Rentals – 110 Commercial St., Downieville. 8 rooms and 2 guest houses, on river. 800-296-2289 or (530) 289-3573.
  • Sierra Shangri-La – 2.5 miles N. of Downieville. Cottages and B&B. (530) 289-3455

Grass Valley/Nevada City: 38-42 miles, 45 minutes SW of meeting place. Convenient stop-off for clients traveling from Sacramento. Great restaurants, gas lights, horse drawn carriages.

  • Inn Town Campground – 9 Kidder Ct., Nevada City, Ca 95959. (530)-265- 9900. Glamping tents, Tent sites and RV hookups.

Camptonville and Downieville: offers the closest accommodations

  • Tributary Whitewater Tours camp – Always available for overnight guests and may be available for 1-day clients. 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. Fees from $24. Go to www.recreation.gov 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.

Grass Valley/Nevada City: 38-42 miles, 45 minutes SW of meeting place. Convenient stop-off for clients traveling from Sacramento. Great restaurants, gas lights, horse drawn carriages.

  • Inn Town Campground – 9 Kidder Ct., Nevada City, Ca 95959. (530)-265- 9900. Glamping tents, Tent sites and RV hookups.

Not a lot of selection, but surprisingly good quality for a small rustic town.

Historic buildings & walks in nearby rustic Downieville. Restaurants, gas & other supplies can be found in Camptonville and Downieville.

The area offers numerous trails for day hikes, back packing & mountain biking. Trails from easy to more difficult. See our North Yuba River hiking information.