I wanted to write to you regarding this year’s snow pack/runoff so that any questions you may have are answered before you have them.

Last week (~April 12th) the California Department of Water Resources published their report on water content in the Sierra Nevadas. Based on weather forecasts, and the water stored in reservoirs and in the snow (that will drain specifically into the rivers we raft), this year will be similar to that of 1995 and 1998. Those were big water years and therefore we are expecting much higher than normal flows this late spring and early summer. The peak of the run off, may go as late as mid-June, and we expect higher than normal flows to last into July, maybe even longer if we are lucky!

Anyone’s prediction of the flow while you will be here is a guess, but we are expecting high water that will either require Rock-N-Water to take additional safety precautions (to bring risk levels back down to what is reasonable) or flows so high we won’t go rafting at all. In any case, we want to put you and those coming with you at ease about the situation. Here are some things you can count on:

  • We have and will cancel trips when appropriate
  • We have specific safety protocols for higher water and “no float” limitations for a variety of conditions.
  • We have several other adventurous/fun options that usually relieve the pressure to raft when it’s inappropriate so retreats/camps need not be canceled. (If the water is too high and your group comes with a flexible attitude, we can still provide a great camp.)
  • Rock-N-Water has been boating the South Fork of the American River for over 20 years and has run commercial rafting seasons very similar to what is being predicted. We have done so without any major incidents.
  • It is likely the media will report tragic stories related to higher water in rivers. All rafting is dangerous, but most of the “scary” news reports are about “private” (non-commercial) trips where boaters either lack the skill/experience to make good decisions or intentionally act carelessly. If you hear of a whitewater tragedy in California and want to know the facts, you can call and ask us about the incident. We make it our business to know the specific details about how people get hurt on rivers. We might post information about such an incident here on our news feed www.rocknwater.com/blog/

If your trip is between now and mid-June and you would like to increase the likelihood of being able to go rafting:

  1. Consider trying to move your trip to a later week.
  2. Or, if your group is all senior high and older, consider getting approval from your group/parents to raft at a Class IV risk level before you come here. That would give us even more flexibility for the river conditions we can raft.

Although we expect this late spring to produce some unusually high water, we are committed to your experience at Rock-N-Water. We are and will work hard to provide a reasonably safe and great time. As always, we ask your group to be flexible, trusting us to use appropriate discretion and provide an excellent camp/retreat in any circumstance. If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call.

See ya soon!


Craig Lomax
Camp Director – Rock-N-Water