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Whitewater Rafting Guide To River Trips


California has one of the highest concentrations of navigable whitewater in the world, with the vast majority draining the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

  • American River Rafting Trips (Class III – IV+):
    The level of difficulty on the North, Middle and South forks of the American River varies from Class III to Class IV+. The American Rivers are located in the heart of Gold Country… forty miles east of Sacramento between I-80 and Hwy. 50.
  • Merced River Rafting Trips (Class IV):
    Merced rafting trips usually run from mid April to early July, depending on snow pack. Merced river rafting trips have three different sections to run. Each section is available depending on the amount of water in the river.
  • Tuolumne River Rafting Trips (Class IV+):
    The federally protected Wild and Scenic Main Tuolumne River is the classic Sierra rafting trip. Only two commercial trips launch each day.
  • Cherry Creek Rafting Trips (Class V+):
    Cherry Creek (the Upper Tuolumne River) is the most challenging commercially-rafted river in California. Previous rafting experience is highly recommended.


Go Rafting with A Commercial Outfitter in California

All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting is one of the most respected rafting outfitters in California, with over 45 years of experience. They were recommended by Lonely Planet in California Trips, 2009. All-Outdoors runs 10 rivers in California, offering 1-3 day rafting trips from Class II to Class V.

Visit their website for more information about California Whitewater Rafting.


More About Rafting in California

Located within a few hours of the San Francisco Bay area, the American, Tuolumne, and Merced are the most well known rivers, for half, 1, 2, and 3 day rafting trips. The availability of rafting trips varies by season and annual snowfall. Rivers with upstream reservoirs, such as the American and Tuolumne Rivers, usually have higher flows in the months from April to June, with more consistently regulated flows throughout the summer. Free-flowing rivers, like the Merced, do not have dams and are reliant on melting snow. These rivers may run into July in a good snow year. Generally the level of difficulty ranges from beginner-intermediate (Class III) to experts only (Class V).