Lower Middle Fork American / South Fork American River – Combo Overnight 3 day raft trip


3 day overnight for youths from 8 years

Difficulty: Beginner

Rating: Class 2-3+

Minimum Age: 4 years for part of trip, 8 years for full 3 days

Length: 32 miles, 3 days

Time: 12:30pm Day 1 - 2:30pm Day 3

Price: starting at $399 [ VIEW PRICES ]

6 meals and 2 night camping included. Inflatable Kayaks available day 1.


[ AREA INFORMATION ] Motels, Camping, Restaurants & More




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This Lower Middle Fork American / South Fork American River 3 day overnight raft trip is a great first time trip for children. Those who may be a bit nervous about tackling Class 3 rapids, will appreciate the Class 2 rapids on the first day to “warm-up”. This trip is also great for diverse family groups. We can supply inflatable kayaks for the first day on Class 2 rapids adding excitement for older youths and more adventurous participants.

See below for the itinerary of this 3 day American River trip suitable for families with young children. 

Day 1 – Lower Middle Fork American

Due to water releases upstream, we can only run the Lower Middle Fork American in the afternoon, so we meet after lunch. We transport you from Auburn for a short but interesting bumpy ride down into the Middle Fork American Canyon. You will get glimpses of the river far below as we descend. At the put-in you will receive pre-trip instruction and board the rafts for a fun afternoon!

You are welcome to bring snacks for the kids to take on the rafts as there will be stops on the river. There are safe beach areas for picnicking and play, as well as side hikes up creeks into shady dells with waterfalls (seasonal). Very few people are seen on this trip, but we often see nesting ducks, deer, heron and fish jumping. Late in the season, we also stop to pick incredibly juicy blackberries.

Returning to Auburn around 5:00 pm, it is a 30 minute drive to our overnight camp in Lotus-Coloma. Dinner is being prepared, so when you arrive at camp enjoy some appetizers and a beverage. A delicious 3 course dinner will be served, accompanied with a moderate amount of beer, wine, and soft drinks. After dinner, you can relax around the campfire and usually s’mores will be available too.

You will have time to set-up camp before or after dinner. You spend the night on the banks of the South Fork American River. Our exclusive campground has flush toilets, hot showers, volleyball net and horseshoe pits.

Day 2 – South Fork American Gorge

Awake to the sound of the river and the aroma of coffee brewing.  The morning is fairly relaxed and your amazing river guides will serve breakfast. You will rendezvous in the parking area around 10:30 am for the short shuttle to the Hwy 49 bridge. 

The South Fork American River “Gorge” trip warms up with  4 miles of Class 2 rapids. When we pull back into the camp you are served a great riverside feast. After lunch, we launch again, and we raft another 9 miles, entering the steep granite canyon known as the ‘Gorge’. The rapids occur more frequently with many Class 3-3+ rapids like ‘Fowler’s Rock’, ‘Satan’s Cesspool’, ‘Bouncing Rock’, and ‘Hospital Bar’. There are also numerous milder and fun rapids along the way and time to relax and enjoy a swim too. The rafting trip ends at Folsom Lake where you are served cold drinks and we bus the group back to the camp.

You will spend another night at Rivers Bend. There will be time for swimming, volleyball, Frisbee or other games when you return, or simply relax with a cold drink.  We will serve another delicious dinner. After dinner, the day’s photos will be available to view in camp and you can relax around the campfire.

Day 3 – South Fork American Chili Bar 

We begin early to catch the upstream flows at the top of the river. You will enjoy breakfast again in camp and usually depart by bus around 9:00 am. We put-in on the ‘Chili Bar’ run which begins quickly with the Class 3 Meatgrinder rapid. The action continues for the next 5+ miles with Racehorse Bend, Rock Garden, Triple Threat, the infamous Class 3+ Troublemaker and others. We serve another great riverside lunch, usually at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. While lunch is being prepared, clients can check out some of the exhibits or the museum. After lunch the river slows and we raft back into camp or maybe shuttle back from the Hwy 49 bridge. We serve cold drinks and you may view photos of the day. Most will then depart on their homeward journey or by arrangement you can stay another night.

Options to accommodate younger or older youths

We can customize this American River 3 day overnight raft trip to accommodate mixed aged youths. If you have youths under 6 years who cannot raft on Class 3, they can stop at lunch on Day 2. They can play in camp, visit the nearby Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park or take some easy local hikes. See the Lower Middle Fork & South Fork Class 2 option. Youths under 8 years may wish to just raft for 2 days. There are other options for older youths for day 3 on the more advanced Middle Fork American