With three different forks – the South, Middle, and North – American River rafting provides a whitewater experience for all levels of rafting skills from beginner to advanced. The outfitters in the gallery and infographic below provide a variety of trips on the American River. But first, a brief summary of why the American River is one of the top whitewater rafting rivers in America. See short profiles and a locator map of the Top 24 whitewater rafting rivers in America including the American.
Click on photos to see larger images and links to outfitters. See more info on outfitters in infographic below
A Brief Introduction to the American River and Why it is One of the Top Whitewater Rafting Experiences in America
The American River runs 120 miles through California from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the confluence with the Sacramento River in the Sacramento Valley. It is fed by melting snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is historically memorable because it is where gold was discovered in 1848 starting the California gold rush. It has three main tributaries, the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork. The South Fork, about an hour from San Francisco, is the favored whitewater rafting venue for beginning rafters, families and groups. It contains some of the most exciting Class III rapids in California. Despite rapids with names like Meatgrinder, Troublemaker, and Satan’s Cesspool, this stretch of the river is suitable for all levels of rafters from beginner to more experienced. The Middle Fork will appeal to adventurous first-time rafters in good physical shape and more experienced intermediate rafters. The dam-controlled river has great scenery, crystal clear water and a side hike to a waterfall. The North Fork is a free-flowing river with some of California’s most exciting technical rapids in the spring. The South Fork and Middle are the two most popular whitewater rafting destinations in California. The upper portion of the river drops 50 feet per mile through a steep and narrow granite canyon resulting in some dramatic technical rapids for experienced rafters. Taken together, the South, Middle, and North Fork of the American River provide whitewater rafting experiences for all levels of rafters. The three forks merge into Folsom Reservoir and leave there as the “main” American River. It joins the Sacramento River near the center of Sacramento.
An American River Locator Map Showing the North, Middle, and South Forks
(Click on the upper right-hand corner of the map to see the original map where you can enlarge and move around freely to see more detail of the natural and man-made environment around the American River.)
Outfitters Who Provide American River Rafting Trips
|Outfitter||American River Trips||What They Say About Themselves||Other Activities|
||1-day Middle Fork, 1-day South Fork, 2-day trips||Over 25 years of running the highest quality rafting trips and river tours||Raft trips on the Tuolumne and Kaweah rivers|
|All Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting
||Raft trips on the South and Middle Forks||50 years later the Armstrong family continues that tradition by welcoming thousands of people every year on river rafting trips throughout California||Raft trips on 10 California rivers|
|American River Recreation
||Half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips||American River Recreation has been the premier provider of fun and excitement on the American River, Merced River, and Kaweah River since 1973||Rafting on the Merced and Kaweah rivers|
|American Whitewater Expeditions
||South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork trips||Our diverse professional guides, the core of who we are, come from all over the world to share their stories and love of rafting with you.||Rafting trips on the Merced River|
||1/2 -day and full-day trips on the South Fork||Our commitment to socially and environmentally-conscious travel has been a part of our foundation since the company’s inception in 1969||O.A.R.S. is a large rafting outfitter with trips on over 30 rivers in the U.S. and internationally|
|Tributary Whitewater Tours
||Rafting on the South, North, and Middle Forks||Safely guiding California whitewater rafting and American River rafting trips since 1978||Truckee River rafting, Lake Tahoe rafting|
||South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork trips||We were the first to conduct trips on many of the rivers in California, and for many, many years we have guided more people down more California rivers than any other outfitter.||Rafting trips on the Kern, Kaweah, Kings, Merced, Tuolumne, and Yuba rivers|
Every effort is made to compile profiles of the top American River rafting outfitters who are professional, popular with their customers, and committed to environmental excellence. No advertising fees are involved. If you have had a good experience on the American River with a rafting outfitter not included here and they meet the above criteria, add their name and contact information in the Comments box below and BG will follow up.
See short profiles and a locator map of the Top 24 whitewater rafting rivers in the U.S.