½ Day Afternoon Gorge River Rafting

Prices Starting At

Monday – Thursday
Adults (14+) $99
Kids $99 Half Off! $49

Friday – Sunday
Adults (14+) $119
Kids $109


Join us for an afternoon of white water rafting! Perfect for both first-timers and seasoned rafters this is our most popular half-day option. This trip is 3/3.5 hours on water through some of the most fun and splashy rapids on the river; when you think of whitewater rafting this is what you’re picturing. The afternoon start time for this trip allows us to raft at the warmest part of the day, so the water is a refreshing cool down! The first half of this white water adventure is made up of slow moving pools separated by stretches of fast moving water and Class II rapids. All the Class III rapids happen during the second half of the trip before ending in Folsom Lake. 

First time rafting? No problem! We will practice a few paddling skills before tackling our first rapid. In addition this section of river is set up so you encounter the more mellow Class II rapids before reaching the Class III. We launch directly from our private campground on the American River so you can easily camp with us before or after your rafting experience.

This is a group favorite! Perfect for corporate teambuilding activities, school groups and more. Plus we are located only 30min from Sacramento and two hours from San Francisco. Go white water rafting with us on a renowned section of the American River!


Water flows in the South Fork American River result from releases from hydroelectric facilities located upstream. Such water releases are not subject to the control of El Dorado County or rafting companies operating under Permits from the County of El Dorado.


  • Great mix of rapids and calm waters
  • Trip starts at the warmest part of the day, in the afternoon
  • One of our most popular trips – when you think of whitewater rafting this is what you’re picturing!
  • Great for first time rafters and kids
  • The white water action keeps returning rafters coming back year after year
  • Perfect for large groups
  • Camping available at our private campground before or after your trip

River Map

Trip Itinerary

Guests meet at 1p where their Trip Leader will check them in. Once all guests have arrived they will be given their personal gear for the day and walk a short distance to the put-in site (this does involve going down a steep-ish incline on an uneven path). The Trip Leader will give the group a safety talk before dividing guests into groups and assigning them to a guide. Your guide will make sure your pfd and helmet are properly fitted, and lead you to your boat for a quick paddle talk. There will be a little time to practice paddling in the put-in eddy, before diving into the first rapid of the day Current Divider (II) right away.

Once you snake your way through the boulder islands you’ll be back into calmer waters to continue practicing paddling as a team. After drifting through a series of calm pools, with some fast moving water between, you’ll come to Highway Rapid (II). This is a fairly shallow rapid that cascades over a small rocky drop. Next up is Swimmer’s Rapid (II) where guests can choose to swim a small wave train (it feels a lot bigger when you’re in it). Your guide will give you instructions on how to swim the rapid, if you choose to do so; please know that you will likely get a face full, if not a mouth full, of water during the process.

Swimmer’s Rapid flows into the long pool known as Turtle Pond. This is a great place to swim when the weather is warm and to scan the undergrowth for, you guessed it, turtles. The pond ends with a sharp turn to the right down a small rapid and into another long pool in an area called Long Beach on river right. The long sandy/pebbly beach is where we camp on our South Fork 2 Day Wilderness trip.

The next ½ mile or so consists of small calm pools and fast moving water over shallow rock beds. Chutes and Ladders (II) follows with your choice of going right or left around a rock island. Weave through boulder islands and over turbulent waves before Alligator Rock, the river bends left here and over shallow washboard rapids. The river turns to the right and you’ll see Gorilla Rock on the left standing sentinel over Gorilla Pond. This deep pond is dotted with boulder islands and is a great place to get out and swim. You’ll continue this trend of smaller pools, island weaving and small Class I and II rapids for the next 2 miles. During this time you’ll see Screaming Right Hand Turn (II), the Indian Grinding Rock, the Lollipop Tree, and Frankenstein rock. By this point you’ll notice that the river corridor has closed up a fair bit and your third sighting of the Lollipop Tree indicates that you have officially entered the Gorge. 



The Gorge section of the river has 5 major rapids, Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool, Scissors, Bouncing Rock and Hospital Bar. Each of these is separated by a pool of calm water and other smaller rapids between. Fowler’s Rock (III-) is the first major rapid of the day. A ledge hole adjacent to a large rock on the right guards the namesake rock of the rapid sticking out of the current center left. At flows less than 2000 cfs boats go right around this and left of a second rock just downstream and to the right of it to navigate the rapid. Moving left around a second large rock and over another drop and you have completed your first Class III rapid of the day. A very short float later and you’ll find Airplane Turn (II) and Upper Haystack Canyon (II), a narrow corridor of wave trains and roiling water. This drops you into the pool above Satan’s Cesspool (III). Satan’s Cesspool is a series of 3 back to back rapids: Lost Hat (II), Satan’s Cesspool and Son of Satan’s (II). Lost Hat is a field of large standing waves, like being on a roller coaster, the water then turns to the left over a series of drops and waves into a large rock.

The South Fork American River Gorge run ends at Folsom Lake. If Folsom lake levels are high, our jet-skis will meet to get through the the upper reaches of the reservoir to the take-out. We return you back to camp around 4:30pm full of memories of a great river experience.

Traveling to the

Where to Meet

Tributary Outpost & Private Campground on the American River

6500 CA-49
Lotus, CA 95651

Where To Stay


  • Tributary Campground – Lotus, CA
    Many of our multi-day American River trips include camping at our private campground, located directly on the South Fork of the American River. Extend your trip and camp with us at our private riverside campground before or after your rafting adventure.
  • Consumnes River Ranch – Plymouth, CA
    One of our preferred partners! This is an amazing private property on the Consumnes River with tent camping, glamping cabins, stone barn for weddings and more.


Hotel Options

What Should I Bring

  • Required Items
    • Re-usable 20oz or more water bottle
    • Shoes (no flip flops)
  • Suggested Items
    • Sunglasses (with a strap)
    • Baseball hat
  • Do Not Bring
    • Cell Phones
    • Wallets
    • Expensive jewelry


Click here for a full detailed list of what to wear and what to bring.

Rafting shuttle services and fees included. For more information on trip shuttles click here.

What Does Tributary Provide

Included with Rafting

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