South Fork American River

Lotus-Coloma (CA Highway 49 between Auburn and Placerville) /

Level: Beginner to Intermediate /

Class 2-3+

Rafting for all ages!!

Meeting Location

Raft California / Tributary Whitewater Tours
South Fork American River Campground
6500 CA-49 (Historic Highway 49)
Lotus, CA 95651

Great option for rafting near Lake Tahoe, Sacramento & the Bay Area!

Area Information

Class 2 & 3 Rafting Trips on the South American River

The South Fork American River rafting trips are some of the most popular in California, and for very good reasons. This river has served as an introduction to California whitewater rafting for countless beginners. It is also exciting enough to lure many back year after year. There are trips suitable for everyone, including families, corporate groups, scouts and youth groups. Raft for just a few hours or spend 2-4 days. See below for all your rafting options.

There are many memorable rapids as the South Fork American river winds its way through the scenic green and gold foothills of California’s Gold Rush Country. It passes through the historic town of Coloma and the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.

When other California rafting trips have dried up, the South Fork American River is still providing an exciting and fun time. Great water releases are guaranteed past Labor Day weekend.

All South Fork American River rafting trips meet at our camp in the Coloma-Lotus area. Each rafting trip starts with an orientation and a safety talk. Personal flotation devices are fitted and paddling instruction is given. A professional, skilled river guide is on board every raft to help steer you safely down the river, as you power the raft with your paddle.

Camping can be arranged before or after any of our South Fork American River trips. Multi-day trip options include 1-2 nights camping.

Professional photography companies shoot at the major rapids on the river. You can view your photos online after your trip.

NOTICE: Water flows in the South Fork American River result from releases from hydroelectric facilities located upstream. Such water releases are not subject to the control of El Dorado County or commercial rafting companies operating under permit from the County of El Dorado.

Coloma/Lotus Area: Closest to rafting trip location.

Cameron Park: 25 minutes South of the rafting location, off Highway 50 and easy for those coming from the Bay Area.

  • Motel 6 – 3444 Coach Lane, Cameron Park, CA 95682. (530)-677-7177.
  • Quality Inn and Suites – 3361 Coach Lane, Cameron Park, California, CA 95682. (530)-677-2203.

Placerville: 20 minutes South of our rafting location, off Highway 50.

  • Best Western Plus Placerville Inn – 6850 Green Leaf Dr, Placerville, CA 95667. (530)-622-9100.
  • Historic Cary House – 300 Main Street, Placerville, CA 95667. (530)-622-4271.

Coloma/Lotus Area: Closest to rafting trip location.

  • Coloma Resort – 6921 Mt. Murphy Road, Coloma, California, 95613. (530)-621-2267.

Camping available with Raft California at our South Fork American Riverside Campground!

Our camp features views of the river, facilities, Canvas Tent Rentals & a fun environment for families and groups.

Coloma/Lotus Area: Closest to rafting trip location.

Coloma/Lotus Area:

These are our staff favorites!

  • Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park – Coloma. (530)-622-3470. Site of James Marshall’s discovery of gold in 1848. Exhibits, museum, interpretive programs, guided tours, trails, picnic area, river access.
  • Gold Discovery Park Association – Coloma. (530)-622-6198. Works in association with Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park supporting a variety of programs for children and adults as well as preservation projects. Downloadable PDF for Junior Ranger Program.
  • American River Conservancy Nature Center – Coloma, (530)-621-1224. Located within Marshall Gold Discovery Park. Exhibits, guide tours, workshops, gift shop, discovery room.
  • Hennigsen-Lotus Park – Lotus. (530)-621-5360. 51 acre park with river front beach area. Great for large group events, features 2 soccer fields and a lighted softball/little league complex. The park is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until dusk. Dog friendly (on leash, off leash OK in water). 
  • Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce

There is no local transportation to or around this rafting location as it is quite remote. Uber and Lyft do not exist here either.

  • Gold Rush Taxi – (530)-651-4653. Everything from regular taxi service to wine tours, weddings & airport runs. Min $15 for Coloma/Lotus area, otherwise $3 a mile with a $3 flag drop