South Fork American - River Tubing
River Tubing on the South Fork American River is a great option for families or groups looking for a fun day on the river. 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. You'll float through the historic Coloma valley where the California Gold Rush started in 1848. We'll stop to look at the exact spot where gold was discovered by James Marshall. Familes with younger children (5 years old and above) can float in one of our guided rafts with a guide. All participants must be fit and must have good swimming abilities.
Our tubing trips include a picnic spot and beach area at River Park Resort if you would like to arrive early. You can relax, swim, have a picnic lunch before the 2 hour tubing trip. Our resort is private so only your group will have access to your riverfront space. Please be ready to go tubing at 1:00 PM when you check in. You'll be off the water by 4:00PM.
All river tubes, safety equipment and shuttle ride is included in the trip price. All Tubing trips check in at 1:00 PM and the trip duration is 2 hours. Bring your own lunch, beach chairs and river attire for a fun day at the river!
South Fork tubing trip information
Check in at River Park resort - 1:00 PM
1:00 PM to 3:00PM- Your tubing adventure when you arrive begins when you check in. Your group will be given an orientation by our trip leader in the meeting area prior to your tubing trip. Safety techniques and helpful hints are the main topics to be discussed during the orientation. After the "safety talk" we will suit you up with your pfds (personal flotation devices)and hand out a "wild river tube" to each participant.
Tubers will launch upstream from Marshal Gold Discovery Park We will float through a nice section of easy class 2 rapids known as the "Lotus Loop". Keep your eyes open for trout, otters, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer as we ride the rapids in this wonderful setting.
Bring your own picnic lunch to eat before or after your tubing adventure at your own private lunch spot.
River Park Resort is a great place to hang out and enjoy the river after your trip. This is the takeout for our tubing run . Enjoy a cold refreshment on our outdoor patio while you remember your day of riding the rapids of the fabulous South Fork of the American River!
Driving Directions to River Park Resort: Our meeting place for all South Fork American River trips.
Our resort (River Park Resort) is located in Coloma CA at the end of River Park Dr. (located just north of the highway 49/ South Fork American bridge).
Coloma is located between Placerville and Auburn on highway 49. Driving time 2.5 hours from SF, 8 hours from LA. There are several other rafting companies in Coloma so make sure you follow the directions below to our camp at River Park Resort. If you get lost or you are running late please call us directly at River Park Resort - 530-622-0553
Driving from Sacramento: Take highway 50 east from Sacramento to the Ponderosa Road/ Shingle Springs exit - EXIT NUMBER 37. (You will be following signs to Coloma). At the end of the ramp, turn left, and go over the highway. There are two stoplights immediately after the overpass, take a right turn at the second stop light (North Shingle Road). Take North Shingle Road approx. 4 miles until it becomes Lotus Road. Take Lotus road until it stops at highway 49, turn left. Go over bridge and turn left on River Park Dr., there is a left-hand turning lane just after the bridge. Follow River Park drive to the left and into our resort. Our Resort is marked by a large brown "River Park Resort" and "Beyond Limits Adventures" sign btweem 2 large palm trees.
Driving from South shore Lake Tahoe: Take highway 50 west until Placerville. Take the highway 49 (Spring Street) exit, right, off of highway. Follow highway 49 north until you reach Coloma. At the left hand turning lane just past the highway 49 bridge over the river, turn left onto River Park Drive. Follow River Park Drive into our resort - River Park Resort.
Driving from Reno or North Lake Tahoe: Take highway 80 west to Auburn. Take highway 49 south about 25 minutes to Coloma. This is a winding Road so take your time and closely follow the highway 49 signs so you stay on course. Just before you cross the main bridge over the river in Coloma turn right onto River Park Drive. Follow this into our resort - River Park Resort.
Driving from San Francisco Bay Area: Take I-80 East to Sacramento, take highway 50 east and follow the directions from Sacramento above.
Driving from Los Angeles or San Diego: Take I-5 North to Sacramento, take highway 50 east and follow the direction from Sacramento above.
Please arrive on time for your trip:
It is a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes before your trip departure time to allow yourself time to check-in, use our restrooms and change into your river attire. Each trip has a designated departure time, make sure you know the time and plan to arrive before it. It is better to be early than late. We do not hold up trips for late arrivers.
- When is the best time of the year to raft the South Fork American River?
California has rafting nearly year round but the most popular time to go is April through July for high water and maximum excitement. July through October still has plenty of action due to dam released water. Early season has great whitewater and we have discounts for April and May trips. Look here for information.
- Do I have to know how to swim well?
No, Class 2 and 3 water does not require good swimming ability. A personal flotation device which we provide will keep you buoyant if you happen to swim from the raft. There are plenty of calm “recovery pools” to keep you from floating down river.
- Will I need a wetsuit?
If you raft during high water (spring season) you will need a wetsuit whether you rent one from us or provide your own. Summer rafting on the South Fork American River does not require a wetsuit. Contact us if you have questions.
- What should I bring?
You need to bring shorts, swim suit, t-shirt, foot protection (old tennis shoes, booties or sport sandals), and a dry set of clothes for your ride home. Everything that you wear will get wet so plan accordingly. Please do not bring valuable items (i.e. expensive clothes or shoes, jewelry, non-waterproof cameras or other items) on the raft. Under a wetsuit you will wear swimwear or insulated synthetic winter underwear (No COTTON) on cold spring days. On cold days wear wetsuit booties for extra warmth.
For camping trips bring all the camping equipment you need (even the kitchen sink if required) since all of our 2 day trips operate from a base camp where you can drive in. We have lists of equipment recommended for all trips. Do not bring pets to any of our trips.
- How often do trips run?
We run trips seven days a week from April through October. There are certain days in early and late season during the week that we may not have trips scheduled but can run a trip if you have at least 4 persons. Plan your trip as far in advance as possible and this will give you more options for trip dates if you have a group since most of our popular dates book well in advance.
- How many people go with each trip?
During midweek we have smaller sized groups and the rivers are generally less crowded making the solitude of the trip much better than on weekends. On weekends we generally book out so we run the maximum group size that is listed for each river. Sundays are sometimes less crowded than Saturdays. Early and late season are less busy than prime season.
- What if the weather is bad?
We will run in any condition of weather or may give everyone the option to take a rain-check credit if the weather is extremely unpleasant at the check-in point. After April, the weather is usually perfect for rafting.
- Can we request a guide?
If we have at least 2 weeks notice we will make every effort possible to schedule a guide that you enjoyed in the past.
- Is it appropriate to tip our guide after the trip?
Although a tip is not expected, if you feel your guide has done an exceptional job or gone that extra step to make your trip more enjoyable and memorable, a tip is a nice way to show your appreciation.
- Can we still raft if we have young children (under 7 years)?
Yes. On a two day trip on the South Fork American we can run a split trip where a different parent stays in camp during each day. We can also take kids as young as 5 on the Lotus section of the South Fork.
What to Bring
What to bring:
For your river trip, we recommend the following items:
- Picnic lunch
- Portable chairs for the beach
- Swimsuit/ shorts
- Tennis shoes, sports sandals or wetsuit booties
- T-shirts or rash-guard shirts
- Dry clothes for after the river
Please do not bring pets.
Camping - please bring your personal camping gear. Common items that we recommend are:
- Sleeping bag and foam pad
- lawn chair
Camping & Lodging
Camping at River Park Resort:
As of May 1 2020, we are not able to provide camping due to the Covid-19 situation. At some point we will be able to offer camping again for our guests. Please feel free to contact us regarding the latest camping information.
Places to stay: Motels:
- Best Western - 530-622-9100
- Super 8 Cameron Park - 530-677-7177
- Days Inn - Placerville - 530-622-9100
- Residence Inn - Folsom - 916- 983-7289
- National 9 - 530-622-3124
- Courtyard by Marriott - Folsom
- Hilton Garden Inn - Folsom
Places to stay: Inns:
- Sierra Nevada House - Coloma 530-626-8096
- Coloma Country Inn - Coloma 530-622-6919
- Albert Shafsky House - Placerville 530-642-2776
- Glen Morey Country House - Placerville 530-306-3481
- Blair Sugar Pine B&B - Placerville 530-626-9006
- Casita Del Oro - Vacation rental in Lotus 530-621-3030
Places to stay: Lake Tahoe
- Lake Tahoe Visitor's Authority - General Information 1-800-AT-TAHOE
- Lake Tahoe Accommodations - Vacation rentals 1-800-250-8013
- The Block Hotel - Stateline 1-888-544-4055
- Horizon Casino Resort - Stateline 1-800-648-3322
Things to do:
Trip DetailsRiver Tubing
Minimum Age: 7 yrs
Bring your own picnic lunch.
Snacks and Refreshments are available at our camp store.