South Fork American River “Whole River” 21 Mile 1 day raft trip


Best spring Class 3 for adventurous group

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Rating: Class 2-3+

Minimum Age: 8 years

Length: 21 miles

Time: 8:00am - 4:30/5:00pm

Price: Starting at $139 [ VIEW PRICES ]

Lunch Included, Riverside camping available


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The entire South Fork American River is usually run in 2 days, but we also offer this as a long 1 day option as the South Fork American “Whole River” 21 mile trip. It includes both sections of the river with the upper “Chili Bar” and the lower “Gorge”. This raft trip is definitely at its best at higher spring flows and it provides plenty of action. 

The South Fork American “Whole River” 21 mile rafting trip requires an early start to catch the water releases at the top of the river. You will depart in our bus for the launch point near Placerville soon after meeting at our riverside camp in Lotus.

After the usual pre-trip instruction, the rafting action begins quickly with the Class 3 ‘Meatgrinder’ rapid and continues for the next 5+ miles with ‘Racehorse Bend’, ‘Rock Garden’, ‘Triple Threat’, and the infamous Class 3+ ‘Troublemaker’ rapid. The river slows after this, passing through the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, and we raft back into camp for lunch.

Enjoy a great riverside lunch, and we launch again to tackle the remaining 11 miles. The rafts enter the steep granite canyon known as the ‘Gorge’ where the rapids occur frequently. There are 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. The rafting trip ends at Folsom Lake where you are served cold drinks and we bus the group back to the meeting location.

This can be too long a day for younger kids, seniors, and those just not as active. If someone is nervous, then definitely opt for the South Fork American Gorge 11 mile 1 day trip instead.