The South Fork of the American River
Raft Northern California’s: South Fork American River
The South Fork of the American River (SFAR) offers a great many opportunities to visitors. From learning about Sutter’s Mill at the James Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park with the start of the California Gold Rush, to rafting down the American River for a hands-on white water rafting experience.
American River Rafting
The South Fork of the American River is a great experience for those looking for a whitewater rafting experience that their whole family can enjoy.
Multiple Sections for even more fun exploration
The full South Fork American River run is about 21 miles long. While you can raft the full 21 miles in a single day on one of our whole river american river rafting trips, we only recommend doing that when the river flows are high enough to make that a fun and exciting trip. As such. we only offer the whole river in a single day when the water flow is over 2,000 cfs, which typically only happens in the Spring months. The rest of the year, and even in the spring time with potential high water, it is far more enjoyable to spend two separate days exploring both sections.
Each of these exciting class III rafting runs are about 10 miles long and are offered as our Splash About Class III river rafting trips. These river trips can be done as a stand alone day of rafting or combined together with 1-3 nights of camping for multiple days of fun and exploration. Both sections includes about the same number of Class III rapids and Class II rapids, and have plenty of big standing waves and holes for an amazing california whitewater rafting experience.
The Upper Chili Bar Run
The Chili Bar run starts off with some major rapids and then calms down to give you an easy end to your day. With river flow being controlled by a dam, the upper gets water early in the morning, making it an ideal choice for groups wanting an early start to their day. We stop and have lunch alongside the river before we get back to more fun on the river. We’ll pass by Henningsen Lotus Park and the campground of Camp Lotus before ending right at our riverside camp. Some highlights:
- Chili Bar Hole – great surfing fun
- Meat Grinder (III)
- Racehorse Bend (III)
- Maya’s Rock (II+)
- Rock Garden (II)
- African Queen (II)
- Triple Threat (III)
- Miner’s Cabin – a great on the river lunch stop
- Swimmer’s Rapid (II)
- Troublemaker (III)
- Sutter’s Mill – We’ll pass by the Marshall Gold Discovery SHP and see a replica of Sutter’s Mill.
- Old Scary (II)
- Barking Dog (II+)
The Lower Gorge Run
The Gorge run starts with some relatively small rapids, as if it is easing you into the world of river rafting and saving all of the big rapids for the end of the day. Because you spend far less time in the “quite zone”, the lower is ideally situated for groups wanting to have plenty of time to scream and water-fight. We can also provide team building games before lunch, at no additional charge, for groups wanting to focus more on team unity. This is an amazing whitewater rafting trip that ends in Folsom Lake at Salmon Falls. Some Highlights:
- Current Divider (II)
- Highway Rapid (II)
- Swimmers Rapid (II)
- Cable Crossing (II)
- Fowler’s Rock (III)
- Upper Haystack Canyon (II+)
- Satan’s Cesspool (III)
- Scissors (III)
- Lower Haystack Canyon (II+)
- Bouncing Rock (II+)
- Hospital Bar (III)
- Recovery Room (II+)
- Surprise (II+)
Water Flow Statement from El Dorado County
El Dorado County ask that all rafters on the South Fork of the American River be aware that "Water flows in the South Fork American River result from releases from facilities located upstream. Such water releases are not subject to the control of El Dorado county or commercial rafting companies operating under permits from El Dorado County."