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

California Whitewater Rafting near

San Francisco

White water rafting near San Francisco and the Bay Area is as close as the American Rivers (2.5 hrs E) with trips available April-September even in a drought! These rivers have something for everyone with mild class 2 whitewater for kids from 4 yrs old to some of the toughest whitewater to be found.

These trips are great for those in the Bay area (San Francisco, Fremont, Mountain View, Walnut Creek, Vallejo, San Jose, Santa Rosa) - Come join us on a 1/2 day or 1 day trip and experience a variety of accommodations, cuisine, and entertainment offered in the area for families and groups. These trips also make for an easy stop on your way to or from Lake Tahoe! Overnight rafting trips with camping and meals give you an opportunity to come spend a couple days on the water, sit back at our Riverside camp, and let us do the cooking for you!

Rafting trips near Sacramento/South Lake Tahoe:

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 just 15 minutes from Highway 50 in Placerville, on your way to South Lake Tahoe. It serves as an introduction for many beginners and rafting trip options include just a couple of hours to multi-day camp outs where all meals are provided, our minimum age for most trips is 8 years old, younger kids (4+) may join for the shorter "Lotus Run". 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 trips near Auburn/North Lake Tahoe:

The Middle Fork American River provides reliable river rafting well into September. We offer a Full Day Class 4 trip and a 1/2 day Class 2 trip both meeting in Auburn, 2.5 hrs from San Francisco on your way to Lake Tahoe. 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 North Fork American River 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 and big drops - so previous experience is typically required. Trips meet directly off I-80 in Auburn (2 hours from San Francisco) or in Colfax (20 minutes east of Auburn) and are typically available April-mid June depending on snowpack levels. Combo with the North Fork Yuba River (between Camptonville and Downieville, about 1.5 hours from Auburn) for a class 4-5 multi-day rafting and camping adventure.

Planning a rafting trip near San Francisco:

Whitewater rafting trips near 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 seekers can enjoy rafting, wineries, group events, galleries, nightlife and endless possibilities when it comes to lodging and dining.

More white water rafting trips near San Francisco:

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