Whitewater rafting on the Stanislaus River in Northern California offers thrilling rapids, beautiful scenery and fascinating stories from your rafting guide. Outfitters are given special permits by the USFS. The river takes you through gold prospecting country and the area where Mark Twain left his mark. More than 100,000 people each year float through the spectacular limestone gorges of the "North Stan", splashing in its side creeks, exploring its caves, running its exuberant rapids.
The Stanislaus delivers one of California's steepest rafting runs, careening between granite walls and gargantuan redwoods on a day trip that commences at Ford's Crossing. The river cascades over stair-step waterfalls and through boulder gardens, and has nine monster Class IV rapids that will continue on for a challenging 5 miles. The dense pine forests make for a very pleasant day.
Your journey down the Stan leads off by launching just below the treacherous Class V+ Sourgrass Ravine on the right. Most outfitter guides choose to do the put-in just a little below Sourgrass Ravine in order to avoid a nasty undercut with granite boulders. Just below the put-in, are some enjoyable Class III and IV rapids for the next few miles including the "The Slot."
Spring Whitewater Rafting on the Stanislaus River in California
The "North Stan" River depends on the snowmelt fed from mountains below 6000 feet during the spring thaw. The peak season runs from mid-April to mid-May for about 4-6 weeks. It is a good idea to book your rafting trips on the Stanislaus River well in advance. Most outfitters require that you be at least 15 years of age and can swim.
Mark Twain and his stay in the Stanislaus River region
In addition to enjoying the excitement of the Stanislaus River rapids, many of the guides will serve up gourmet meals for breakfast lunch and dinner. Some even offer organic clones of the soups that Mark Twain once labeled "Hellfire," "General Debility," "Insanity," and "Sudden Death. Mark Twain spent about 5 years in the Stanislaus River area as an unsuccessful gold prospector. Twain's fictionalized account of his five years in the West, he described the Stanislaus River region as "woodsy, balmy, delicious," to which one might respectfully add "thrilling." The surrounding country is largely unchanged, which builds from foothills to the forested ridges, alpine lakes, and granite peaks of the central Sierra. It is all part of the charm of a rafting trip down the Stanislaus River.
Enjoy a day of thrilling rafting on the Stanislaus River and its crystal clear water but also take time to bask in the fresh air and the beauty of the surroundings. You will float past Dogwood and fir trees, wild azalea and largest living trees on the planet, the Sequoia Redwoods.
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