Middle Fork American River – 3 day Wilderness Overnight raft trip


American River Wilderness 3 day Overnight!

Difficulty: Adventurous Beginner to Intermediate

Rating: Class 2-4+

Minimum Age: 13 years

Length: 25 miles

Time: 8:00am day 1 – 6:00/6:30pm day 3

Price: $429 [ VIEW PRICES ]

7 meals and 2 nights camping included. Inflatable Kayaks on day 3 possible.


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On the 3 day trip, you will spend a 2nd night in the American River canyon and may have the option of using inflatable kayaks on the 3rd day. Don’t pick this trip if you are primarily looking for lots of action. It’s a good choice for those who are looking for more time “getting away” from it. This is a pretty unique offering and very few companies offer the wilderness options on the Middle Fork American River and fewer still offer the option of running the little traveled section of river downstream from the Greenwood Bridge take-out. Though only Class 2 rapids are found in the 7 miles to Mammoth Bar, so the 3rd day is really mellow making Inflatable Kayaks available, there is a wonderful hike up the American Canyon to some incredible waterfalls (seasonal) and cool and shady pools. You have to know the river to find the spot and this hidden treasure is particularly welcome in the hot summer months. The only option on the Middle Fork American River is to take all the gear down the river by raft and set-up camp, so facilities are very basic. On the plus side, we have the choice of some incredible and truly get-away-from-it-all camp spots, and great side-hikes. You are likely to be the only group in the area, and our favorite spots afford the luxury of smooth, sculptured plunge pools and cascading waterfalls (seasonal). On a multi-day trip there is time to swim, play, hike, fish (need a license!) or simply relax in seclusion. Our guides really love these trips as they are really able to bond with our clients in a more intimate camping scenario – many stories are shared around the campfire in the evening.

Your adventure begins with an early rendezvous in Auburn; make sure you get a good breakfast before meeting us. We transport you through Foresthill to the put-in location just below Oxbow Reservoir. The guides will ensure that you are correctly equipped with life jackets and helmets and a safety talk will be given. You will be told about what you may expect to happen on the river and also any necessary environmental protection procedures. All the food, kitchen, personal gear, camping equipment is loaded on separate oar rafts to be taken down the river, so plan on travelling light!

The famed ‘Tunnel Chute’ is encountered early in the trip and we stop to scout this rapid, this is followed by numerous Class 3 rapids and the Class 4+ ‘Kanaka’. We are really on “River Time” out in this wilderness canyon, lunch is served riverside and our guides will bring you on side hikes to secret locations. The fishing on this river is excellent and you are welcome to bring poles with you (be sure to have a hard case and license). We will pull into one of the wilderness camp locations in the afternoon and set-up camp. The camp site is usually exclusive for our group. Cold drinks are served and you have plenty of free time until appetizers and dinner.

Waking up in the canyon is amazing with the sun taking its time to crest the canyon walls. Guides prepare a tasty breakfast – and the morning is leisurely and there is opportunity to hike around and fish again as we wait for the dam released water to reach us downstream.  Gear is again packed up and we continue down river on some mellow rapids just below the entrance of Canyon Creek the Class 4 adrenaline rush kicks back in with the Ruck-a-Chucky rapids. ‘Upper Ruck-A-Chucky’ (AKA ‘Chunder’) is the first in this series followed but the falls – a 20′ drop through a sieve of huge boulders is a mandatory portage for clients. ‘Lower Ruck-a-Chucky’ (AKA ‘Cleavage’) immediately follows and is a fun “surf” spot. We make our way thru a 2 mile gorge laced with numerous Class 3-4 rapids such as ‘Parallel Parking’ and ‘Catapult’ (AKA ‘101 Airborne’).

We past the usual 1 and 2 day take-out and continue downstream. We might pull in briefly to take-on supplies or inflatable kayaks. Camping can be just past the Greenwood Bridge site at Cherokee Bar or further down after American River Canyon. So more time to relax again and your guides will produce another sumptuous dinner.

Day 3 starts with another relaxing morning while waiting for the upstream dam water. We take our time to enjoy the canyon on this rarely rafted section in the Auburn State Rec Park. We end the trip at the Mammoth Bar OHV park before the confluence with the North Fork American, and take a very short shuttle ride back into Auburn.