Whitewater River RaftingNews & Blog

Winter Snowpack reports and Spring Rafting Updates

All signs point to an amazing spring rafting season!

Every time a winter storm dumps feet of snow in the mountains, we do a little happy dance, not only because the Western US could use the water, but more snowpack means better flows on free flowing river trips! Spring snowpack readings, groundwater reports and dam system storage data all help us predict upcoming rafting trips! 

These numbers impact not only our free flowing rivers, but can also affect the flows on dam controlled rivers as well. Come early March, we are able to really look at the data provided in snowpack reports, groundwater storage, dam storage levels and river flows, and compare those to past years. 

If you ask any senior staff member at Tributary, they will recall epic Springs, which years had high flows, and the amazing memories that were made from those past trips. In 2017 and 2019, the snowmelt lasted into early July and we saw some of the biggest whitewater in Northern California! 

We can’t wait what the 2023 season bring to some of our favorite free flowing rivers like the North Yuba, East Carson, Forks of the American, Owyhee, Rogue, Cal Salmon and more!

Snowpack Reports for Northern California & Oregon

Overall the snow from Winter 2022/23 is 100-170% for our river systems. We are excited for some of the positive ecological reasons of snowpack and spring flows:

  • Lowering fire danger in the summer groundwater storage is up as well compared to past years coming out of super dry seasons, so the snowmelt will be saturating areas that went dry early in the season.
  • Renewing river drainage systems and raising flows for fish flow when lower flows don’t allow for spawning as well as flora and fauna that will flourish for longer. 
  • Flows that have become warm and more stagnant will have longer and colder water running through them into the warmer summer months.


Click to enlarge

If you like graphs, we think this one is pretty cool. It represents this years current California Snowpack in Regions, compared to 2016-2017 & 2018-2019 levels. As you can see, 2022-2023 winter numbers are just as high – Why are we comparing these specific years? Because spring rafting in 2017 & 2019 was EPIC! We were running trips on the Class IV North Yuba Maytag Run and North Fork American Chamberlain Falls Run until the end of June as well as our 2 day wilderness rafting and camping (with Hot Springs) on the East Carson River  trip into mid July! 

Our Most Popular Free Flowing River Trips:

We can’t guarantee what the weather will do, when it will snow, how fast the snow will melt, but we can predict what the weather will do & we feel pretty confident in our predictions. If you have a free-flowing river trip you have your heart set on, we always suggest booking your trip earlier in the season & allowing some room for changes, in case the flows end up not agreeing with your dates. These are our MOST POPULAR free flowing river trips, every year we get calls from folks waiting to get on these rivers. We do predict flows for ALL OUR RIVER TRIPS because snowpack impacts all river trips, not just the free flowing ones. 


Currently Scheduled
Trip Dates 

  • Sunday April 9 – Thursday April 13, 2023
  • Sunday April 23 – Thursday April 13, 2023

Location: Rome, OR

  • Class II-IV
  • Non-swimmers welcome
  • Ages 7-10+ 
  • 5 day wilderness rafting/camping trips


Predicted Trip Dates 

Start: Early April
Finish: Late June/Early July

Location: Auburn, CA

  • Class IV & V Runs
  • Swimming skills required
  • Ages 14-16+
  • 1 day & 2 day (Combo with the South Fork!)


Predicted Trip Dates 

Start: Early April
Finish: Late June/Early July

Location: Downieville, CA

  • Class IV & V Runs
  • Swimming skills required
  • Ages 14-16+
  • 1 day & 2 day trips


Predicted Trip Dates 

Start: Early May
Finish: Early July

Location: Markeleeville, CA

  • Class II
  • Non-swimmers welcome
  • Ages 5+ 
  • 2 day trips

Predictions for California, Oregon & Idaho rafting trips:

We suggest if you are planning to raft with kids ages 4-10 this season, aim for July/August when flows will be at normal levels, earlier in the season we will be experiencing higher flows which will change requirements (min. ages, swimming abilities, weight) for our participants. You can read more about each river on our RIVER FLOW PREDICTIONS PAGE FOR ALL TRIPS, and please don’t hesitate to contact us, we have lots of parents on our staff currently answering phones & are happy to suggest the right experience to suit your family. 

Help planning your rafting trip:

We know this information can be overwhelming, and we are here to help! You can use our choosing your trip page to help guide you on your own time, or fill out our contact us form to and we will be able to suggest a river experience to suit you best!