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Upper North Yuba River - 1 Day Trip

Upper North Yuba River - 1 Day Trip


For experienced paddlers only.

The Upper North Fork of the Yuba River is an incredible resource for advanced whitewater. No other river in California has as many accessible and raftable sections of class 4 and 5 water as the Upper North Yuba. This 20 mile run through a multitude of class 5 rapids can be done without a portage, a rare feat for such a steep river.

Due to varying weather and river conditions during the spring we leave it up to our guide's discretion to take the group to the upper run that has the best flows on the day of your trip. Each section has a window of optimum flow and we'll adjust the trips accordingly.

On extreme high water days, we'll run the biggest rapids of the Maytag section which is one of the most thrilling trips in the country!

On high water days, we'll put-in on Moss Canyon for some intense class 4&5 action! Sometimes we'll run the Moss Canyon section twice since it is so much fun!

During Medium water flows we have 2 options.
Option #1 - we'll run Moss Canyon.
Option #2 - we'll take expert paddlers up to run the class 5 Wild Plum section.

Low water conditions allow us to start at Downieville and run Rosasco Ravine.

All Paddlers should have previous experience and be strong paddlers, agile in the raft and good swimmers. This trip involves extensive shuttling so get ready for a long day- but it is well worth the effort!


Check in at Convict Flat Day Use Area - 9:00AM

9:30AM - Upon arrival our guides will determine the best section of the Upper North Yuba to raft depending on the conditions of the river that day. The Upper North yuba has a short window of opportunity for each of its sections so luckily there is always a good choice for solid class 4 and 5 rafting. We'll suit up for the trip and after a brief orientation we will board the shuttle for a ride upstream to the Put-in of the day.

10:00AM - Trip departs on river.

12:30PM - Stop for break - bring your own power bars and drinks.

2:30PM - After running some of the best class 5 rafting water in the State of California, we'll arrive back to your car at Convict Flat.


Driving Directions to the Yuba River:


All trips meet at Convict Flat Day Use area.

From Sacramento take interstate 80 east to Auburn. Take highway 49 north towards Downieville, CA. Make sure you turn left where highway 49 veers left at Nevada City (30 minutes from Auburn). About 30 minutes past Grass Valley, you’ll see the Indian Valley Outpost on your left. Our base camp is 3.2 miles past the Outpost on the right. From Reno call our office for a short cut to the Yuba. Driving time: approximately 3.5 hours from SF, 9 hours from LA.

View Google map of Downieville Area


Frequently asked questions


  • When is the best time of the year to raft on the North Fork of the Yuba River?

California has rafting nearly year round but the Yuba River runs only in the Spring time from April through June. Early season has the best flows for whitewater and we have discounts for April and May trips. Look here for information.

  • Do I have to know how to swim well?

Yes, Class 4 and 5 water does 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 not many calm “recovery pools” to keep you from floating down river so Participants must be able to quickly swim back to the raft or shore before the next rapid.

  • Will I need a wetsuit?

Yes, wetsuits are required on all North Fork of the Yuba trips. You will need a full wetsuit whether you rent one from us or provide your own. 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 wool socks and tennis shoes or booties for extra warmth.

For camping trips bring all the camping equipment you need (even the kitchen sink if required) since the Yuba River has plenty of riverfront camping sites with drive in access. We have lists of equipment recommended for all trips on our "what to bring" page for each trip. Do not bring pets to any of our trips.

  • How often do trips on the Yuba River run?

We run trips seven days a week from April through June on the Yuba River. If you are looking for a Summer time class 4 River similar to the North Fork Yuba trip try the Middle Fork of the American River.

  • 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 which is 36 persons on the North Fork of the Yuba 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)?

Not on the North Fork fo the Yuba River. The minimum age is 14 years old. If you have young rafters your best choice by far is the South Fork of the American River..

What to Bring

Things to bring:


  • Change of clothes for after the river.
  • Swimsuit/ shorts (please be dressed in these when you check in).
  • Tennis shoes, sports sandals or wetsuit booties
  • Suncreen
  • Power Bars, Energy Bars - something lightweight and waterproof.
  • Drinking water for on the river (plastic bottles only)
  • Wetsuits are required for all Upper North Yuba trips. They are available to rent at check-in. For large groups please call our office for a wetsuit rental form so we will have all the sizes at the river for you. Wet suit booties are also available for rent at check-in and these work very well with your wool socks.

    Camping & Lodging

    Places to stay: The following accommodations are nearby the Yuba River:

    Motels: (In Downieville)

    Cabins: (In Downieville)


    • Tahoe National Forest USFS Campgrounds - There are several riverfront campgrounds along the North Yuba which are provided by the USFS. They are first come first served and rarely fill up. We recommend staying at Rocky Rest if you have a group or at Indian Valley Campground. Call 916-288-3231 for information.


    • Indian Valley Outpost
    • The Forks
    • Riverview Pizza


    Trip Details

    Upper North Yuba - Class 5
    Trip Length: 1 Day
    Difficulty: 5
    Minimum Age: 18 yrs

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    Price: $189

    Lunch is not included. Please bring energy snacks and lunch to eat after the trip.

    Hi Guys!
    Just want to say thank you for a great day! You made my birthday fantastic and mike our guide was so Much fun. We will definitely be back.

    August 2014, South Fork American - 1 Day Trip