Rafting on the South Fork American River
Client quote from a California river trip

California Whitewater Rafting near

San Francisco

Whitewater rafting near the San Francisco / Bay Area is as close as the Eel River, and the American River. Rafting trips on these rivers are available April-September, and provide mild whitewater for kids from 4 yrs old to some of the toughest whitewater to be found. Close enough to the Bay for a day trip with multi-day rafting trips available and a variety of accommodations, cuisine, and entertainment there is something for everyone in your family or group.

See below for the location of trips in the San Francisco Bay area:

Rafting near Ukiah:

The Eel River runs from the Lake Country all the way to the Pacific Ocean and because it is a natural flowing river it also has a very short spring season usually from March to early June. With three forks to choose from on the Eel River, several multi-day rafting trips are available on the Middle, Main, and South forks. Isolation, beautiful scenery and an abundance of wildlife is found on the Eel River. Trips meet in Willits, about 2.5 hours north of San Francisco off the Redwood Highway 101.

Rafting near Placerville:

The South Fork of the American River runs for over 21 miles through the beautiful gold and

green foothills of the Sierra Nevada and ends in Folsom Lake. It is 2.5 hrs east from San Francisco and accessible near Placerville, towards Lake Tahoe. It serves as an introduction for many beginners and rafting trip options include just a couple of hours to multi-day campouts where all meals are provided. The South Fork American River provides some of the most reliable rafting in California, still running at full flows even into September, when other options have dried up.

Rafting near Auburn and Colfax:

The Middle Fork American River’s secluded wilderness runs for 25 miles, getting its water from the mountain snow melt on the west side of Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest; flowing south east into the Auburn State Recreation Area, past Foresthill towards Auburn. Rafting trips are available from ½ day to 3 days, or combine with the South Fork American (25 mins south) or North Fork American (20 mins east) for even longer trips. The Middle Fork American River provides reliable river rafting well into September. Trips meet in Auburn, 2.5 hrs from San Francisco on your way to Lake Tahoe.

The North Fork American River begins in the Granite Chief Wilderness between the ski areas of Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley. The North Fork American flows freely through steep gorges in the Tahoe National Forest and into Lake Clementine in Auburn. The Chamberlain Falls Run is a class 4 run with challenging boulder slalom rapids, previous experience is required. Trips meet directly off I-80 in Auburn (2 hours from San Francisco) or in Colfax (20 minutes east of Auburn). Add a day on the North Fork Yuba River (between Camptonville and Downieville, about 1.5 hours from Auburn) to your North Fork American for a class 4-5 multi-day rafting and camping adventure.

Planning a rafting trip near San Francisco:

Whitewater rafting trips in the Bay Area can be combined with other many other activities to make a great get away for any occasion. The area information page for each of the rivers provides links to visitor information for accommodations, restaurants, group tours, bike rides, and other places of interest. You can also access these area information resource pages through the site map.

Consider a San Francisco rafting trip for the following:

• A family vacation with plenty of kid friendly sites including sporting events, trolley rides, zoos, and fun museums.
• A sightseer / photographers paradise, points of interest include Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39.
• Adventure seeking couples and singles can enjoy rafting, wineries, group events, galleries, nightlife and endless possibilities when it comes to lodging and dining.

A rafting trip near San Francisco is easily accessible for trips to the Gold Country (2-3 hrs), Yosemite and Mt. Shasta / Redding (both from 4 hrs).


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