South Fork American - Half Day Trip - Upper 8:00AM
The Upper Section of the South Fork American River is an exciting Class 3 rafting trip with over 10 major rapids. Its course will start at Chili Bar put-in and take you through the small mining town of Coloma, where James Marshall first discovered gold in 1848 and changed the course of California history. The whitewater begins right away on this river trip. Calm sections are interspersed with rapids and the excitement comes to a head towards the end of this 8 mile run with a challenging rapid known as "Troublemaker".
This river trip is excellent for either the veteran or novice. The flows on the South Fork American River are the most dependable in the state, with guaranteed recreational releases throoughout the summer for the next 50 years.
If you are looking to try your first rafting trip, or if you are a rafting pro, you can't go wrong with the Upper "Chili Bar" section of the South Fork American.
Trip meets at 8:00AM at River Park resort. Plan to be back to your car by 1:00PM
We do not serve food on our half day rafting trips.
Trip meets at River Park Resort at 9:00AM
8:00AM - Trip check in. Our address is 7321 River Park Drive. Lotus, CA 95651. Please arrive on time!
8:15AM - After all participants have checked in, we will drive you to American RIver Resort where guides will fit you for lifejackets and other river gear, as needed. We do not recommend that you bring valuable items with you on the trip. We will ride the shuttle bus to Chili Bar put-in which takes about 30 minutes.
10:00 AM - Our trip leader will give a river orientation and safety talk. Paddling techniques and helpful rafting tips are the topics of discussion. When everyone is up to speed on trip safety, you'll board the rafts and head downstream with your guide. The action starts right away on the Upper section of the South Fork. Within 1 mile, we'll be running a long, technical rapid known as "Meatgrinder". After this, the rapids come in quick succession with "Racehorse Bend" and "Triple Threat" providing the thrills. The last Big Rapid of the trip is the grand daddy of them all... "Troublemaker". Regarded by many as the highlight of the trip, "Troublemaker" is your chance for excitement, so make sure you are smiling through this rapid for some great photo opportunities!
1:00PM - We arrive back at River Park Resort.
This trip meets and checks in at River Park Resort:
7321 River Park Drive
Lotus, CA 95651
- 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?
Due to higher water levels this summer, we recommend all participants have basic swimming abilities. If you are not a strong swimmer, consider booking a trip in mid to later August, when water levels will be lower again.
- 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.
- What if I am a vegetarian
Our chili dog lunch is served buffet style . We can substitute a veggie patty for your beef hot dog. If you have other dietary restrictions please feel free to bring your own food.
- 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:
- Tennis shoes, sports sandals or wetsuit booties
- T-shirts or rash-guard shirts
- Dry clothes for your ride home (you can leave these dry items in your car)
- 1 plastic bottle of water per person
Please do not bring pets or valuable items.
You may check in car keys, wallets and cell phiones to our office.
Camping & Lodging
River front Camping is available River Park Resort
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:
- 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
- Lake Tahoe vacation Guide - Tahoe Keys Resort
Things to do:
- Marshall Gold Discovery State Park
- Mountain Biking
- Lake Tahoe
- Folsom Lake Marina
Trip DetailsRafting - Upper 8:00AM
Minimum Age: 10 yrs
Make Reservation Now!
View Available Dates!
Lunch is not included
Big thanks to John, our guide for the afternoon south fork trip today. This was the first rafting trip for my wife and I and we will remember it for a long time to come. He was very nice, answered any and all questions we had during the trip and shared lots of great stories too.
I will definitely let anyone I know about your trips if they come out to the area. It was well worth the trip for us. This was one day of our week long trip to Lake Tahoe to celebrate our 20th anniversary.