Full South Fork American River Rafting
The trip starts with the Chili Bar run where you’ll encounter rapids like Meatgrinder, First Threat plus the infamous Troublemaker. After a stop for lunch we will go on to conquer The Gorge and other exhilarating rapids like Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool, Hospital Bar and more!
What to Expect on Your South Fork Rafting Adventure
We’ll meet up at Camp Lotus at 8am 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 teamwork. Then we’ll do a few quick safety laps, so you’re ready to hit the rapids!
Get Ready - the Rapids Come Quickly!
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 rapid – the longest on the river – 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 Class III rapids until we get to the South Fork’s infamous Troublemaker!
We’ll slow down for a cruise 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 as we float back to Camp Lotus!
A Quick Break for a Fresh, Local Lunch
Our Sierra Whitewater cook will prepare delicious chicken or turkey and a variety of salads. All our food is fresh, local and homemade! Ice cold drinks will also be provided. Finish it up with a freshly baked brownie to give you some energy for the next section of rafting.
After lunch we’ll jump back in the rafts and have a quick review of safety and plan the next part of the trip. The first four miles we’ll cruise through some smaller rapids and you’ll even get the opportunity to go for a swim and jump or dive off some rocks.
More Rapids and Then Our Final Stop: The Surprise!
You’ll have some time to get ready for Satan’s Cesspool. And make sure you smile for the photographer! We’ll keep heading downriver and hitting a lot of exciting rapids along the way in preparation for the Hospital Bar. Our last big rapid is the super-fun Surprise Rapid!
We’ll arrive at Lake Folsom at around 4.30pm and be pulled to shore by jet skis. Then we’ll bus you back to Camp Lotus where we’ll enjoy some chips, salsa and ice cold drinks. We hope you enjoyed 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! Let us know ASAP if you’re at ANY risk of being late!
- 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 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.
Colin J., Menlo Park, Calif.
This may be a new family tradition and we'll be back next year for sure...
S. M., Seaside, Calif.
It was a blast! They made the trip fun for not only myself but for 4 teenage boys....
JJ H., Sacramento, Calif.
I went white water rafting for the first time ever in May and I'm so glad I went with Sierra Whitewater!