Upper South Fork American River: Chili Bar
This 9 mile rafting adventure throws you into the whitewater immediately! You’ll hit Class III and III+ rapids like Meatgrinder, Maya and First Threat with the grand finale being the South Fork’s infamous Troublemaker!
What to Expect on Your Chili Bar Rafting Adventure
We’ll meet up at Camp Lotus at 9am sharp and start by getting all the waivers signed. Then we’ll jump on the bus and drive you to the launch area just below Chili Bar Dam (about 20 minutes). When we arrive, we’ll set you up with your helmet, paddle and personal flotation device. The head guide will deliver a short safety briefing to the whole group before we assign a guide for each raft.
Next, your group will carry the raft down to the water. Once on board your guide will conduct a quick in-water orientation and give some tips on paddling technique and rafting team work. Then we’ll do a few quick safety laps, so you’re ready to hit the rapids!
Smash the Rapids Within Minutes
Once we set off all boats will stay together as we head down river. You’ll have about ten minutes to prepare before you hit the Meatgrinder! Don’t worry, your guide will prepare you before every rapid. This Class III long rapid will be your first challenge.
Next we’ll cruise through a few smaller rapids towards the Triple Threat! Get ready to smash it and don’t forget to smile for the photographer! We’ll keep heading down river through more Class III rapids until we get to the South Fork’s infamous Troublemaker!
Cruise the River & Swim Some of the Smaller Rapids
The next part of the trip is at a more relaxed pace, cruising through Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. Your guide will tell you about the history of this area as you pass the old mill and various mining trails. Plus you can even swim in the smaller rapids!
Finally we’ll float through the town of Coloma on our way back to Camp Lotus. Don’t worry, it’s not over yet! There’s still a few rapids along the way so you’ll be having fun all the way back to camp.
We’ll get everyone back to Camp Lotus between 12:30 and 1:30pm where we’ll have chips, salsa and ice cold drinks waiting for you. The photographers will come down to show you the photos of your American River rafting experience with Sierra Whitewater.
Good to Know
- Start times are based on dam releases that provide sufficient water for rafting so don’t be late! If there is ANY risk that you may be late, please notify us!
- Overnight camping is available at Camp Lotus with hot showers, flush toilets, fire pits and barbecues as well as a camp store and deli. Contact us for more information.
- Let us know well in advance if you’ve booked separately from your friends but want to be together.
- We recommend bringing additional cool weather clothing in April, May, September & October.
- Photographers are a separate entity and cannot be guaranteed.
- If you have a request for a specific guide, let us know in advance and we’ll do our best to organize it.
- Youths and people under 90lbs require a different life jacket. Please let us know in advance.
Andrew B., North Highlands, Calif.
Deric our guide was great...highly recommend it for fun, team building and adventure...
Julie G., Pleasant Hill, Calif.
We had never done it and wasn't sure what to expect. Sierra did a great job explaining everything and making us feel safe...
Alex G., Sacramento, Calif.
I've been multiple times with them, and have always come away smiling and looking forward to the next trip...