California Whitewater Rafting

California whitewater rafting offers a wide variety of rafting trips on several different rivers. California rafting outfitters offer trips ranging from family rafting to extreme excitement.

The Middle and South Fork of the American River and the Lower Klamath River offer outstanding family and beginner rafting trips. California is home to several different intermediate and advanced rivers for the experienced rafter. The Merced River, the Cal Salmon, Tuolumne River and others offer incredible scenery and exciting whitewater. For the experienced rafter that is interested in a challenging Class V rafting trip, California's famous Cherry Creek.

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W.E.T. River Trips

PO Box 160024SacramentoCA95816USA


River American River Cal Salmon River Klamath California River Klamath Oregon River Scott State California

All-Outdoors California Rafting

1250 Pine St. Suite 103Walnut CreekCA94596USA


River American River Cal Salmon River Cherry Creek River Kaweah River Merced River Stanislaus River Tuolumne State California

Orange Torpedo Trips

PO Box 1111Grants PassOR97528USA


Colorado River CO Colorado River Grand Canyon River Klamath California River Klamath Oregon River Rogue River Umpqua Salmon River State Arizona State California State Idaho State Oregon

American River Recreation

PO Box 465LotusCA95651USA


River American River Cal Salmon River East Carson River Kaweah River Merced State California

Kern River Tours

PO Box 3444Lake IsabellaCA93240USA


River Kern State California

Tributary Whitewater Tours

20480 Woodbury Dr.Grass ValleyCA95949USA


River American River Cal Salmon River East Carson River Kaweah River Klamath California River Klamath Oregon River Scott River Stanislaus River Trinity River Yuba State California

Whitewater Voyages

5225 San Pablo Dam Rd.El SobranteCA94803USA


River American River Kaweah River Kern River Kings River Merced River Tuolumne River Yuba State California

Destination Wilderness

PO Box 1965SistersOR97759USA


Copper River River Cal Salmon River Clackamas River Klamath Oregon River McKenzie River Owyhee River Rogue Salmon River State Arkansas State California State Idaho State Oregon

Two popular whitewater rivers in California are the Stanislaus and South Fork of the American, offering Class 3 to 4. To beat the weekend crowds, schedule a trip mid-week if possible. Just south of the Stanislaus drainage is the Tuolumne River, perhaps the fiercest regularly run whitewater on the coast; Clavey Falls is the toughest drop on the Tuolumne, and a clean run in a raft at any water level qualifies you as a real expert. Further south, the Kings River rafting and the Kern River rafting offer challenging whitewater.

Traveling north of San Francisco to run the coastal rivers, one encounters a different scene: fewer actual mountains but more forests, fewer boaters but generally more water, fewer dams but still a very long seasons and great runs. Here we have the Trinity, the Klamath, and the Smith.

California Rivers for whitewater rafting

  • Salmon-Northwestern California
  • Trinity-Northwestern California
  • Eel-Northwestern California
  • North Fork Smith-Northwestern California
  • Kalamath-Northern California
  • Sacramento-Northern California
  • Scott-Northern California
  • South Fork American-Northern California
  • Middle Fork-Central California
  • Toulumne-Central California

The Middle Fork of the American River in central California is generally run May to September. The rapids are Tunnel Chute (V), Cartwheel (IV); Murderer's Bar (V) The River is surrounded by beautiful Mountain forestland. Located in the Auburn State Recreation Area in the Sierra Nevadas, you'll travel through a beautiful forested canyon. The water is clear and generally very cool.

The American River's North Fork is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, in Mother Lode country.

The American, South Fork, Northern California runs from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls Bridge for 20 miles during May to September. The American South Fork is classified as Advanced with names for rapids such as Troublemaker Rapids (IV), Hospital Falls (III). Satan's Cesspool (IV) This river has Steep rocky canyons, pine-covered lulls The American North Fork run has some great names for rapids such as Meat grinder, Old Scary, Triple Threat, and Recovery Room and one mistake will indicate why. Permits are required for commercial groups only; BLM asks for a voluntary Kern (Class V): There are several stretches to run both above Lake Isabella and below it, varying in Class from III to V, about 45 miles in all. The upper section in some years is not run┬Čnable due to low water, and permits are required on both sections.

Kings River Rafting (Class III+): The Kings is the largest wild river in the Sierras with a very popular 10-mile whitewater stretch from Garnet Dike Campground to Kirch Flat. There is a run above the campground that occasionally is attempted (Class V to unrunnable).