Middle Fork American River - 2 Day Wilderness Raft Trip

Lotus, CA /

Weekdays Arrive Monday evening, rafting Tuesday & Wednesday
  • $389 – adults (all ages 14+)
Weekends Arrive Friday evening, rafting Saturday & Sunday
  • $389 – adults (all ages 14+)

Class 4 Wilderness White Water Rafting Trip on the Secluded Middle Fork American River

Big Rapids & Wilderness Camping on the American River

Meet Raft California in the heart of Gold Country for a 2 day / 2 night rafting & camping vacation on the Middle Fork American River. The Class 4 action starts early on the first day of rafting as you will encounter the biggest and longest Class 4+ “Tunnel Chute”. We stop to scout this iconic rapid which was created during the California Gold Rush by miners who blasted thru the river rock in the search for gold. The Tunnel creates a unique experience to guests to raft thru a tunnel (only one of 6 in the world!).

There is no road access between the put in (Oxbow Reservoir) and the take out (Ruck-A-Chucky Campground) so the really great thing about this trip is the beauty and solitude of the canyon – no cars, no traffic, no wi-fi … and no worries! We’ll be rowing all your gear down the river and you’ll get that all-to-rare chance to escape from everyday life. We will take the extra time we have on this 18 mile section of river to explore side creeks to waterfalls and natural wonders. This is a true wilderness adventure!

The minimum age for this journey is 13-14 as we want to make sure everyone is strong enough to paddle the big rapids and will have a fun experience. Rafts can fit up to 6 guests and groups of 8-12 are ideal.

Arrive the evening before the rafting begins at our private South Fork American River Campground. There are several restaurants if you are passing thru Auburn or Placerville, as well as a few tasty local places within 2 miles of camp. Dinner is not included for this first evening. We suggest renting one of our Canvas Tents, the first day of rafting is an early one and if you set up your own tent, you will need to break that down by 7am.

The following morning you awake to the sound of the river and the nature around you. There are coffee, teas, and beverages are available in the kitchen shortly after sunrise followed by a continental breakfast. We board our vans and head to the river about an hour drive thru Foresthill. At the river launching site, your guides will present orientation and safety information and you will receive your river gear including a paddle, a helmet and a life jacket.

We will launch our boats, practice paddling skills with our guides, and head for the excitement and fun of the Tunnel Chute and Kanaka Falls! We stop along the way for lunch as well as side hikes up creeks to secluded waterfalls. Upon arrival at our wilderness camp there is time to enjoy the peace of the remote canyon, fishing, more exploration and fun. Your guides will prepare appetizers and a moderate amount of beer and wine is provided followed by a delicious dinner. We will include a campfire if permitted by State Parks.
The next day, after a leisurely riverside breakfast we continue our run with more big rapids like Chunder and Parallel Parking. Again we will stop for a riverside lunch, or may stay in camp in the morning waiting for the water to rise and have lunch there too. We will arrive at the take out where our shuttle vehicle will greet us at take-out for the ride back to the South Fork American River camp. You are welcome to use the showers before heading home, an additional nights stay at the campground the night after is also available for a fee.

Trip Information

  • Most popular California River for first-time rafters as well as experienced paddlers, families with kids, groups of friends, and company team building outings
  • Two days rafting (covering 18 miles)
  • Wilderness Camping, camp under the stars!
  • Experienced guides: skilled and ready to provide a safe and fun outdoor adventure
  • Two days of excitement, fun and relaxation in a beautiful river canyon

Once you arrive as our guest please know you are now what we consider “River Time”. This means we try and stick to a schedule, but times are merely a guideline and may not be exact once we start our adventure. Times below may vary, but not much!

The night before your rafting adventure begins:

  • 4:00-8:00PM – Check in to our South Fork American River campground for camping the night before you start rafting. Dinner is not included.

The first day of your rafting trip. Your guides will hand out dry bags for your overnight gear for camping tonight as it will be in a different location

  • 7:00AM Breakfast, coffee, tea and drinks are available in the kitchen
  • 8:00AM Load shuttle to the Oxbow Reservoir put in for the Middle Fork American River
  • Safety talk @ put in
  • Rafting lots of Class 4 rapids
  • Once we are on the river there are several side hikes we can go on as well as enjoy our riverside lunch. Once we are thru the Class 4 action the river mellows out and we can sit back to to enjoy the splendor of the Middle Fork American River Canyon. Side hikes could include to Darnell’s Waterfall/canyon, it’s an amazing and unique place
  • We will pull into camp early evening, usually around 4:00PM. There is plenty of time for exploring, swimming, fishing, or just kicking’ it by the river!
    You will also see the river flows drop in the afternoon, this is because this is a dam controlled river with the “power switch” literally turned on every morning and off shortly after.
  • Camp set up with time for relaxing while your amazing guides prepare appetizers & dinner.
  • Evening Campfire and riverside chats (campfire not guaranteed due to possible high fire danger)

Day 2 of your camping and rafting vacation. The morning is leisurely as we wait for the river flows to rise.

  • Just as the sun starts to brighten the sky your guides will have coffee, tea and drinks for you as you enjoy the amazing morning in the canyon! Breakfast is served shortly after and the guides will start to pack up the kitchen area.
  • After breakfast you will pack up your personal gear to load back onto the gear boat(s). We get all the gear loaded & do a sweep of camp to make sure we didn’t miss any trash or personal items and we get back on the river!
  • There are a few miles of the calmer Class 2 rapids and some additional places to explore.
  • Noonish we stop for lunch and shortly after getting back on the river we get back into the Class 4 action!
  • Once we come thru Chunder Rapid (Class 4 usually with photographers to capture the action) we will pull over for the gear boat to unrig or it will get taken off river.
  • The next rapid on the river is the Class 6 waterfall called Ruck-A-Chucky. This is a mandatory portage (walk around) for our guests, sorry guides/staff only and you will get to watch from the looking perch while your trusty guide maneuvers the boat down a 28 foot waterfall and around a handful of rocks and undercurrents.
  • Back on the boat there are many more Class 4 rapids, including Cleavage a popular surfing spot as well.
  • We usually arrive at the take out at the bottom of Drivers Flat Road by 3:30 where we load the gear into the shuttles and head back to our campground on the South Fork American River
  • Fond farewells as you head home or to your next destination … OR maybe you would like to stay another night!
  • Most kids ages 14 and up
  • Strong Swimmers
  • All participants must be in good physical condition for challenging rapids and side hikes

Included for the rafting:

  • PFD (Personal floatation device / aka life jacket)
  • Paddle
  • Helmet
  • Professional raft guide for each raft
  • Shuttles to/from camp


Included with this overnight vacation package:

  • 2 nights riverside camping (different locations each night, additional nights available as an add on)
    • Your first night of camping is at our established South Fork American River campground in Lotus, CA with showers, and flush toilets (additional nights are at this location)
    • The second night of camping out on the Middle Fork American River Canyon
  • 5 meals
    • Day 1 – breakfast, lunch & dinner
    • Day 2 – breakfast & lunch
  • Dry Bag for your gear on the 2nd night


Required Items:

  • Re-usable 20oz or more water bottle (filled with ice water)
  • shoes (no flip flops)
  • sunscreen


Suggested Items:

  • sunglasses (with a strap)
  • baseball hat
  • Cell Phone (at your risk, it will sink)



  • Wallets
  • Expensive jewelry


FOR CAMPING (both nights)

  • sleeping bag
  • pillow
  • flashlight/headlamp
  • change of clothes
  • towel


For camping Night #1

This night is at our established campground on the South Fork American River


For camping Night #2

This night is on the Middle Fork American river at a primitive Campground

  • tent & sleeping pad (Raft California will also provide)
  • duffel with personal gear that can easily be packed into our large Dry Bag


Tributary Whitewater Tours / Raft California South Fork American River Campground

Address: 6500 Highway 49 Lotus, CA 95651

Please note that cell phone reception in our remote area is not guaranteed, although it is getting better. Therefore we suggest you print out the directions or save for offline on your phone. Please be sure to check drive times when booking your rafting trip and allow for additional time on Holidays and weekends.