California Whitewater Rafting Trips near San Francisco and Lake Tahoe
Mariah Wilderness Expeditions Official Logo

1 Day Entire South Fork American River

Entire South Fork American River Run 1-Day of Whitewater Rafting
1 Day Entire South Fork American River

or Call

Departures: Daily, May through mid-September
MEET TIME: 8:30am-4:30pm

Trip Difficulty: Beginner, Class II-III

Who Should Go: Novice & experienced, ages 7-97

Type of Raft: Paddle boat, 6-8 paddlers plus a professional guide

Price Range:

    Adult: $199
    Youth: $189
    Adult: $179
    Youth: $169

Not Included: 8% River Use Fee, gratuities, rentals

 Available to Rent: wetsuits if needed (usually spring & early summer), tents, sleeping bags & pads

Located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe near Coloma, California, the Class II-III South Fork of the American River is the most popular river in California.

This 1 Day Entire South Fork American River Rafting Trip is perfect for those of you looking for an action-packed day river rafting non-scary yet exciting rapids.You will raft both the Chili Bar section and the Gorge section, the entire 21 miles of river. Our meet time is 8:30am so you will be ready to depart for your next destination by 5:00pm.

If you are looking to extend your adventure after your 1 Day Entire South Fork American River Rafting Trip, please consider camping with us an extra night, either before or after your trip.If we already have a dinner or breakfast on the schedule you are welcome to join us.The additional camping and meals are for a small add-on price.

Download: South Fork Entire River Rafting Trip DIRECTIONS and PACKING LIST.

  • Trip Includes

    • LENGTH OF RIVER: 21 miles, Chili Bar to Salmon Falls Bridge; fun, safe, whitewater rafting
    • TIME ON RIVER: 7 hours plus 45 minute lunch on the river
    • MEALS: Lunch
    • AMENITIES: Hot water showers, flush toilets, pingpong, volleyball, horseshoes
    • GUIDES & EQUIPMENT: Professional fun guides & instruction, river equipment & river shuttles
    • Day 1

      8:30 AM: Meet, greet, and sign in with your river guides.

      9:00 AM : Promptly at 9am we board our river vehicles for the 30 minute drive to Chili Bar.

      10:00 AM: Launch your boats and begin 5 miles of Class II-III rapids.

      12:00 PM: Conquer Troublemaker Rapid, the biggest of the river! Have your photo taken as you come through the rapid. Enjoy 5.5 miles of relaxing Class I-II rapids, & beautiful scenery.


      1:00-1:30 PM: Arrive by river to the Mariah Campground where you will enjoy a picnic lunch.


      1:30-2:00 PM: Continue downriver, enter a narrow canyon with more Class II rapids.

      2:00-4:00 PM: Enter the “Gorge” with lots of Class III rapids!

      4:00 PM: Boat tow to the Salmon Falls Take-Out. 20-minute bus ride back to camp.

      4:30 PM: You are ready to depart for your next destination.

      Trip Orientation is always very instructional; your head guide takes at least 30 minutes to discuss safety features of the trip and demonstrate paddle techniques. He/she will demonstrate and explain everything you need to know in order to enjoy a safe, as well as fun, experience. You will gain a healthy respect for the river as well as feel secure that you will be okay. You will meet the other rafters on your trip and meet you own guide.

      Promptly at 9:00am we board our Mariah vehicles for the 30-minute drive to the Chili Bar Put-in, the top section of the river. Chili Bar is named after the Chileans who traveled up from Chili in 1849 to be a part of the Gold Rush of 1849! You already know your guide, and you are already an accomplished paddler, so we launch into the current. The river starts out with exciting rapids so be prepared for a thrill from the beginning. During the first 5.5 miles we will raft through fun and challenging rapids like Meatgrinder, Race Horse Bend, and the Triple Threats.

      At mile 5.5 we enter Troublemaker Rapid, the largest rapid on the South Fork American River; hold on to your hat!! After this fun rapid we’ll drift and paddle through gorgeous scenery, enjoying the scenic river and calmer rapids.

      At one point, we float past a replica of Sutter’s Mill, the site where that first gold nugget was discovered in 1848 that started the California Gold Rush of 1849.

      Raft down to the Mariah campground for a picnic lunch

      Once we launch our boats after lunch we get to float about 3-4 miles on slow current, swim an easy rapid (if you want to), practice our steerage maneuvers, get wet, learn how to paddle as a team, and learn how to laugh, raft down a “water slide”, see gorgeous countryside with thousands of trees and plants on both sides of the river, and lots of birds. Your guide will have lots of tales to share.

      Early afternoon we enter the “Gorge” where we’ll tackle many fun and challenging class III rapids like Satan’s Cesspool, Hospital Bar and Recovery Room. All the whitewater, the excitement, and your smiles are captured by our kayaking-photographers as they take the best shots for viewing back at camp. After the last rapid we will get a motorized tow to our take-out at Salmon Falls on Lake Folsom, load the boats onto our trailers, grab a cold water, and board Mariah’s vehicles for a relaxing 20-minute drive back to camp.

      Back at camp you may choose to shower before leaving for home. You should be ready to depart exhilarated and refreshed for your next destination by 4:00-4:30pm.


    • Our Campground

      We have a beautiful campground, large and spacious.There are lots of trees which means that there are many sites that can accommodates groups of all sizes. Very unique to Mariah are our Tent Cabins which are all built on platforms and most include deluxe cots, foam pads and deck chairs. Each houses between 2-5 persons.
    • View River Rapids Map

      1 Day Entire South Fork American River