Large pools below in case you fall out of the raft having too much fun. This is a long rapid (over 1/4 mile) that does require paddling to get a raft through successfully. Take out at Salmon Falls and end your rafting adventure. Watch for Hazards. Almost immediately, the river drops again thru a slot along a rock outcropping on the right. Mile 3.2 Read below and take a VIRTUAL RIDE rafting down the South Fork American River… Mile 0 Put in under the Chili Bar bridge. Be sure to ask them about river safety classes. This allows better visibility to enable you to swim your boat to shore. Concrete bridge for Highway 49. – This is a fun rapid that can cause a few problems if the raft ends up in a bad spot. Mile 0.1 Barking Dogs Honking Geese (class II+). Minigorge or Slusebox (class II+). Mile 4.0 The American River's South Fork is California's standard beginner to intermediate whitewater run that many rafters run repeatedly and never outgrow. Coloma Lake, a long stretch with slow-moving current. Big standing waves in a narrow section of gorge. Chili Bar Hole provides fun raft surfing at levels around 1500 CFS. Mile 17.6 Survival in cold water Survival in cold water is another reason for all boaters to wear a PFD when in and around the river during the fall, winter, and spring months. At lower flows, the true path is narrow indeed. A boulder bar rapid with big waves, this is a good place to practice throw bag techniques from the right bank. After your safety talk and paddle talk, you’ll be on your way. About Motors. Take-out: Below Greenwood Bridge Although the length of 21 miles sounds long, it can be rafted easily in one long day and it makes for one of the most popular two-day trips in the US. Large pools below in case you fall out of the raft having too much fun. Old Greenwood Bridge – Greenwood Bridge site, where a useful bridge washed out in the 1964 flood after Hell Hole dam failed. But when the reservoir is full, it is class II at most. Chunder (Class IV) Additional equipment for the float trip could include a bailer, extra paddle, suntan or sunscreen lotion, waterproof trash bag, and a boat patch kit. A long rock garden, very bony at low flows (under 1100 CFS). Shuttle In: 90 minutes AWE to Oxbow. Take-out is prohibited; put-in access for non-commercial groups only, when doing the Coloma to Lotus run (class II). Mile 19.3 Flows: 900 – 2000 CFS, measured as release from Oxbow Dam Park Facilities. People have been boating on the American River for hundreds of years. Son of Satan (class III). What's in a Name. Mile 15 Lower Haystack Canyon (class II+). Mile 0 There are many sharp rocks hidden in the chute…so think twice before you decide to fall out or swim it. Upper Haystack Canyon (class II+). – This rapid was created by some industrious miners in the 1890’s that wanted easy access to the gold rich river bed at Horseshoe Bar. Mile 17.4 After a short calm stretch, the river charges over some diagonal bedrock ledges, along the left wall, then around a cabin-sized rock on the right. For additional river information, call the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation at (916) 875-6672. The rapids on the Middle Fork are created by large boulders and natural slides with the exception of Tunnel Chute. Mile 18.6 For American information … Black powder was used to blast through the cliff wall, diverting the water out of the oxbow so it could then be mined for gold. Boat Use. On weekends, when the raft brigade is out in full force on the water, be especially courteous to your fellow boater and the people along the shore. The blasted a tunnel through the narrow part of the horseshoe and then blasted a chute in the bedrock to divert the river to their new tunnel. The river bends left around a gravel bar, then flows along a cliff on the left. High flows on the American River can be dangerous. The whitewater rafting run that starts just below the Oxbow Powerhouse and includes rapids like the Last Chance, Tunnel Chute, Kanaka, Chunder, Ruck-A-Chucky Falls and heaps more. Big but easily avoidable holes at higher water (class III above 3500 CFS). Courtesy on the river is an essential part of boating. Santa’s Mustache (Class III) This is perhaps the best "wilderness'' camping spot on this river, with sandy beaches, oak trees, and few mosquito's. When in Doubt. Gives you time to relax and avoids a 2 mile paddle in flat water with a headwind. Additional boating safety information can be found on the kiosk located at the Sunrise Bridge parking lot. Oxbow Put-In – Arrive and get ready for a fantastic day on the Middle Fork. A diagonal hole at the bottom is best run on the left, but you can ham it up for photographers by running further right, where a flip is possible. Just below it Tunnel Chute Rapid awaits so when your guide asks you to paddle – make sure you listen. Know the Flow. The best route, whether in a raft or swimming, is just to the right of a submerged rock in the center, but without smashing into the right hand wall. Before this rapid became less hazardous, several kayakers had tried to run it; all died or became partially paralyzed. Downstream are several easy rapids, two involving large rocks. FAIR OAKS, Calif. — It's the time of year when people across our region start heading out on the American River for weekend recreation. Put in under the Chili Bar bridge. Season: April – September For More Information. Mile 0.0 In any case, the swim isn't too bad, but keep your feet up. Mile 21 Mile 8.5 Flows: 800 – 1800 CFS, measured as release from Chili Bar dam (CBR) Believe it or not, if you do not paddle rafts often get wrapped here. Stretch: Oxbow to Greenwood Bridge Mile 16.9 Mile 2.9 Grass and tall sycamores make this a pleasant put-in spot. Mile 1.7 Difficulty: Class III/IV Mile 18.4 Take a waterproof trash bag with you and carry out what you carry in. Photographers are usually stationed at several spots nearby. Good swimmer's rapid with a large eddy below, making it easy to reach the rock outcropping for repeated swims. Difficulty: Class III+ with one IV- The sharp rock walls in the chute make this a rapid that you don’t want to swim. Guides will often “bounce” the raft into the rock for giggles and nervous laughs. Mile .6 A narrow rocky slot is available to the right of the central island. Keep all loose items in a floatable container. This was formerly a class III rapid on the right shortly above the Highway 49 bridge, until high water detoured the river leftward during the winter of 1982. The Nisenan Indians poled flattened logs along and across the river. African Queen (class II+). Named for a hospital tent set up during the gold rush. More importantly, it prevents the possibility of your being pinned between your boat and an obstacle. Mile 8.0 In the 1840's, Captain John Sutter used a variety of small wooden boats to transport goods. Entrance to the Gorge, occurs after the third sighting of the Lollipop tree on top of a distant hill. The South Fork offers some of the best whitewater rafting with proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area. For a current recording of the river flows on the American and other rivers throughout the state, call the Department of Water Resources at (800) 952-5530, or visit their Website at The county prohibits boating, swimming, rafting, and floating in any manner on or in the water of the river for a distance of 150 feet downstream from Nimbus Dam. An easy driving distance from Sacramento, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Reno, our deluxe campground is located on the American River, right in the middle of historic James Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. Distance: 21 miles, 1 or 2 days You can portage this rapid via right side trail. Children and non swimmers should wear them at all times. Floating the Lower American River, the “Sunrise Float”, is a venerable right of passage for anyone living in the Sacramento Area. Rafts often get stuck here when crews do not paddle well. The current may pin the boater or boat against these obstacles or cause a boat to capsize. Beautiful creek that carries a lot of water from the snowmelt in the spring. Maya is a popular kayak surfing spot, often with long lines and a fun wet hit in a raft. If your boat capsizes or you fall overboard, STAY WITH THE BOAT, unless it is unsafe to do so. A nice set of wide stone steps leads up to a parking lot. Mile 7.4 A rock island divides the flow. The river slaloms right to left, and enters a channel on the far left with many barely-submerged rocks. Class II and II+ rapids continue without too much flat water. Swimmer's Rapid (class II). At some flows, the lead-in rapid can be run either left or far right. One of the most notable rapids on the Middle Fork American is the world class Tunnel Chute. Kids as young as 12 years old can enjoy tubing the waters of this exciting and scenic stretch of river with one of our skilled and friendly guides. However, rafting trips are looking a lot different this year. It is also a good idea to wear a pair of old tennis shoes. The River. Not particularly difficult and a lot of fun. Mile 11.4 Mile 3.7 Mile 15.8 The maximum speed limit for the entire lower American River is 5 miles per hour. Private campground on right, then a steel bridge. The center is easy and unobstructed, but there are large holes on the far left halfway down, and on the far right near the bottom. Read below and take a VIRTUAL RIDE rafting down the South Fork American River…. The lower American River has been designated as a "Recreational River" under both the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1972) and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1980). People have been boating on the American River for hundreds of years. Greenwood Creek enters on the right below, marking the end of the quiet zone. Knowing what the flow is on the day of your trip is one way to determine if the river is boa table for your level of paddling experience. Good idea to paddle well. There is a new portage trail on the right that can be used to carry your boats. The shock of sudden immersion in cold water can deplete the strength of even the strongest swimmer and hypothermia can render a person unconscious.