East Fork Carson River

Rafting & Hot Springs Near Tahoe

ABOUTEast Fork Carson River Rafting

  • Soak in natural hot springs during your East Fork Carson River rafting trip
  • Free flowing river, not dam controlled, and only available in the spring (Rafting this river section is based on water height not available every year)
  • East Fork Carson River is close to Lake Tahoe, a perfect experience to add to your Tahoe vacation
  • High elevation river located in the northern end of the Eastern Sierras
  • Beautiful side hike from camp
  • Fantastic fishing including Lahontan cutthroat trout
  • We are one of two companies that have a permit to raft the East Fork Carson

The East Fork Carson River originates from Sonora Peak in Alpine County, California, within the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The gorge of the East Fork of the Carson River was shaped by an 18-mile long glacier at the base of 11,500-foot Sonora Peak, leaving behind riverine terraces with round boulders.

The East Fork Carson River California is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, offering excellent opportunities for fishing, hiking, and camping. The river is fed by mountain springs and snowmelt, offering a pristine and refreshing flow, lush meadows, towering pine forests, and rugged mountain terrain. The river serves as a vital component of the Carson River watershed, contributing to the rich biodiversity and ecosystem of the region.

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Let's GoEast Fork Carson River Rafting

Dates: April
- May
Starting at



WHY GOEast Fork Carson River Rafting

Did someone say hot springs?!

This river is a great introduction to California rafting, but it lures veterans back year after year. The unique river-side hot springs are a rare experience. Glimpses of the snow covered peaks are spectacular as you raft down the East Fork Carson River. This wilderness section is swift, yet easy going; safe and fun for various levels of experience.

Due to it’s proximity to Lake Tahoe whitewater rafting the East Fork Carson is an easy add on to any Tahoe vacation.

Searching for other rafting near Lake Tahoe? Or looking for something with a bit more spice? Check out white water rafting Truckee. Located 20 minutes north of Lake Tahoe Truckee, CA rafting trips feature Class III half day adventures.

Kick it up a notch and head down the hill to the Auburn area to try a big water Class III South Fork American River rafting trip. Or further increase the spice with a Class IV adventure and join us for a North Fork American River rafting trip or Middle Fork American River rafting – both launch just an hour away from Tahoe.

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History & Wildlife

The East Fork Carson River boasts a history that spans centuries, with roots deeply embedded in the era long before European exploration with the Washoe people. The mid-19th century ushered in significant changes with the arrival of European settlers during the California Gold Rush. While the East Fork Carson River itself might not have been a primary gold-producing area, the adjacent regions experienced a surge in population and activity as fortune seekers explored the surrounding landscapes. This period marked a pivotal turning point, shaping the cultural and economic dynamics of the Carson Valley and its neighboring areas.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the logging industry etched its mark on the landscape. This impact resonated through the forests, influencing the region’s ecological balance. Amidst these changes, the river itself emerged as a habitat for Lahontan cutthroat trout, a federally threatened species. Designated as Wild Trout Waters by the California Fish and Game Commission, this segment offers anglers the chance to fish in aesthetically pleasing and environmentally productive waters, hosting populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout, coastal rainbow trout, and brown trout. In addition to the rich fish population the East Fork Carson is also home to mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, eagles and more.

Despite proposed plans by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for a $23 million dam in 1962 to provide irrigation water and generate power, neither the canal nor the dam came to fruition, leaving the river’s course untouched by such developments.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range, including the areas around the East Fork Carson River, has a complex geological history that contributes to the existence of hot springs. A highlight of our whitewater rafting trip on this river!As groundwater moves through the subsurface, it can be heated by contact with hot rocks or magma. This heated water then rises back toward the surface, following pathways created by faults and fractures. The presence of hot springs can create unique ecosystems, attracting specific plant and microbial life adapted to the warm and mineral-rich environment.

QUESTIONS ABOUTEast Fork Carson River Rafting

Where should I stay the night before my trip in Markleeville?

Stay at the Carson River Resort in Markleeville. These are the perfect studios for families, couples and groups. This is also the meeting location for your Carson River overnight white water rafting trip. If you stay at the resort, parking while on the river is included, a $25/vehicle savings!


As we journey down the East Fork Carson River, we’ll pass through lands rich in history and culture of the Washoe Tribe. Recognizing these communities is a way of honoring their legacy, their lives, and their descendants.

Acknowledging the Indigenous communities whose lands we visit is a crucial step in understanding our shared history and the ongoing challenges faced by these populations today. For more insight, visit our Territory Acknowledgement page. We encourage you to learn about the people whose land we’re privileged to explore by following the links above.

Our Territory Acknowledgement is an evolving project. If you find missing information or acknowledgments, please share it with us. Together, we can ensure accuracy, inclusivity, and respect. Thank you.

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