California Whitewater Rafting Trips near San Francisco and Lake Tahoe
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1 Day South Fork lower Gorge

1 Day South Fork lower Gorge Rafting Trip

1 Day South Fork lower Gorge

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Departures: Daily, May through mid-September,
WEEKDAY MEET TIME: 9:30am-4:30pm.

Trip Difficulty: Beginner-low intermediate, 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: $149
    Youth: $134
    Adult: $119
    Youth: $104
  • plus 8% River Use Fee
    1 Day Gorge
    Saturday, September 3: $78.00 (8% River Use Fee included).

  • Group rates are available.

Not Included: gratuities, rentals, camping

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


The 1 Day South Fork lower Gorge Whitewater Rafting is perfect for those of you looking for just one day on the South Fork American River. Our meet time is 9:30am on Saturday & Sunday, and 9:30am during the middle of the week; so you will be ready to depart for your next destination by 4:00pm-4:30pm. Located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, the Class II-III South Fork of the American River is the most popular river in California, and one of the most popular in the United States.

If you are looking to extend your adventure after your 1 Day South Fork American River Rafting Trip-lower Gorge 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 for a small additional fee.

Download: South Fork Gorge Run 1-Day Rafting Trip DIRECTIONS and PACKING LIST.

  • Trip Includes

    • LENGTH OF RIVER: 11 miles, Mariah Camp to Salmon Falls Bridge; fun, safe whitewater rafting
    • TIME ON RIVER: 3.3 hours plus 45 minutes for a picnic lunch
    • MEALS: Lunch
    • AMENITIES: Hot water showers, flush toilets, ping pong, volleyball, horseshoes
    • GUIDES & EQUIPMENT: Professional, fun guides, instruction, river equipment & river shuttles
    • Day 1

      10:00 or 10:45 AM: Meet, greet, and sign in with your head guide.

      11:00-11:30 AM: Launch your rafts and begin 3 miles of Class II rapids.

      12:00-12:30 PM: Picnic lunch on banks of the river, or lunch at camp prior to putting on the river.

      1:00 PM: Continue down river, enter a narrow canyon with more Class II whitewater rapids.

      1:30-2:00 PM: Enter the “Gorge” with lots of Class III rapids!

      3:00-3:30 PM: Boat tow to the Salmon Falls Take-Out; bus ride back to camp.

      4:00 PM: 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 3:30-4:00pm.

      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.

      Before lunch we get to float about 3-4 miles on slower, Class II 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.

      We arrive at our private lunch site on the river; we are hungry and happy.  Or, we have lunch at camp prior to the river.

      After lunch we board our boats and float 2 miles of Class II rapids in beautiful canyon settings. We then 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 at the end of your trip. 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.

      Sometimes we have our lunch at the Mariah Campground, and launch our boats after lunch. Usually it is in the later part of the season, mid-August, during the middle of the week. The reason is the water is released from the Chili Bar Dam later than normal due to agricultural and electrical needs, and we want to wait until the water-release reaches our campground before we launch our boats.

      Back at camp you may choose to shower, purchase a river photo of yourself going through the rapids, purchase a t-shirt, and say farewell to your guides.

    • 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 South Fork lower Gorge

    The Evening Before Your Trip!
    Camping at the Mariah’s South Fork of the American River Campground this night is not included in the price of your trip. However, we invite you to join us for a small additional fee. If you camp with us the night prior to your trip, we request that you come anytime after 5:00pm. Our Camp Host will greet you, give you any rentals you have reserved, and show you where you may camp. There are several nice restaurants nearby where you may enjoy a lovely dinner. Our Camp Host will be on duty from 5:00pm – 9:00pm; however, you may come after 9:00pm, just have your flashlight handy. A lantern will be lit next to our large campground map so you can see where you are. Also, if you have not arrived by the time the host goes off duty, they will write you a welcome note which will be posted on the big white board next to the big camp map. The note to you will give you appropriate instructions regarding camping and any rentals you have.