California Whitewater Rafting Trips near San Francisco and Lake Tahoe
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2 Day South and Middle Fork American River

2 Day South and Middle Fork American River

2 Day South and Middle Fork American River

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Departures: Every Saturday, Monday & Thursday, May through mid-September

SATURDAY MEET TIME: 9:00am-3:00pm (South Fork Gorge-Middle Fork)
MONDAY MEET TIME: 9-3:00pm (South Fork Gorge-Middle Fork)
THURSDAY MEET TIME: 9:00-4:00pm (South Fork Chili Bar-Middle Fork)

Trip Difficulty: Beginner Class II-III

Who Should Go: Enthusiastic beginner, intermediate & experienced, Ages 12-97

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

Price Range:

    • Adult: $329
    • Youth: $299
    • Adult: $299
    • Youth: $269
      plus 8% River Use Fee

Not Included: 8% River Use Fee, gratuities

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


This 2 Day South and Middle Fork American River Rafting Trip on two different rivers has become very popular and is perfect for those of you looking for an exciting 2 Day whitewater rafting adventure. Located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, both the Class II-III South Fork of the American River, and the Class III-IV Middle Fork of the American River, have become two of the most popular rivers in California. Our meet time the first day is 9:00am so you have time to drive the 2.5 hours from San Francisco. On the second day you will be ready to depart for your next destination by 4:00pm.

If you are looking to extend your adventure after your 2 Day South and Middle 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.

  • Trip Includes

    • LENGTH OF RIVER: 29 miles of river,
      • First Day: 10.5-11 miles, either Chili Bar to Mariah camp or Mariah camp to Salmon Falls, South Fork
      • Second Day: 18 miles, Middle Fork
    • TIME ON RIVER: 2 days of whitewater rafting
      • First Day: 3-3.5 hours plus 45 minutes for lunch, South Fork
      • Second Day: 7 hours including picnic lunch, Middle Fork
    • MEALS: 4 meals (First Day: lunch, dinner/Second Day: breakfast, lunch)
    • CAMPING: 1 night of camping at Mariah’s South Fork camp (night during)
    • AMENITIES: Hot water showers, flush toilets, ping pong, volleyball, horseshoes
    • Wine-tasting during hors d’oeuvres
    • GUIDES & EQUIPMENT: Professional fun guides & instruction, river equipment & shuttles
    • Day 1

      10:00 am: Meet, greet, and sign in with your head guide. .

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

      12:00-12:30 PM: Picnic lunch on banks of the river.

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

      3:30 PM: Set up camp, shower, relax, play.

      5:15 PM: Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine-tasting, camaraderie.

      6:00 PM: Dinner, slide show, dessert, campfire, more camaraderie.

      Whenever you want: Fall asleep under the stars, in your own tent, in rented tent.

      (Quiet hours start 10:00 pm).

      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 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.

      We arrive at our private lunch site on the river; we are hungry and happy.

      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 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 30-minute drive back to camp.

      NOTE REGARDING LUNCH: 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, play volleyball, horseshoes, ping pong; walk our unique Nature Trail, sit by the river, read, relax, socialize with old and new friends or shop in the Mariah camp store for a souvenir t-shirt. Around 5:15pm., hors d’oeuvres are served and in the Beverage Garden a nice wine-tasting presentation is given by the staff. There is plenty of fruit juice and fresh water available, also. Please feel free to bring your own favorite beverages.

      The dinner bell rings about 6:00pm. BBQ steak and chicken, hearty salad, potatoes, garlic bread, coffee, tea, juice and water are served by your guides. Following dinner is the evening slide show, dessert, and campfire. Then it’s off to sleep under the stars or in one of the great Mariah tent-cabins available to rent.

    • Day 2

      7:00 AM: The breakfast bell rings.

      7:45 AM: We board our river vehicles for the one hr drive to Oxbow Put-In on the Middle Fork.

      9:30 AM: Launch your boats and begin your river journey.

      12:00 PM: Enjoy a hearty picnic lunch on the river.

      12:30-3:30 PM: Enjoy an afternoon of Class II-IV rapids, & beautiful scenery.

      3:30-4:00 PM: Arrive at the Drivers’ Flat Take-Out, board Mariah vehicles and depart back to the Mariah Campground.

      The first day of your 2 Day South and Middle Fork American River Rafting Trip begins at 7:00am with breakfast. By 7:45am we board our Mariah vehicles for the one-hour drive to the Middle Fork Put-in. Once we start our descent down to the Oxbow Bend Put-In, we will drive through a beautiful and isolated section of the canyon.

      By 9:00am we should arrive at our put-in just below Oxbow Reservoir. We gather together for a thorough 30-minute presentation given by your Head Guide to discuss the safety features of the trip and demonstrate paddle techniques. We will then launch boats and spend the day rafting I this beautiful and isolated wilderness canyon.

      This 18 mile trip is a Middle Fork extravaganza for those of you wanting a lot of excitement in one, very full day. We’ll be on the river early, running the Tunnel Chute and lots of other exciting rapids as well as floating and paddling the calmer stretches of the river. We have time to admire the beauty of the canyon and river before we get to the Tunnel Chute rapid!! At the end of the rapid, after having successfully paddled through the tunnel, we take a short break before heading down-river for Kanaka, a big Class IV rapid. After that we have a few more Class III and IV rapids before pulling over to shore and enjoying a hearty picnic lunch.

      After Lunch we continue to be challenged by some wonderfully exciting Class IV rapids. Ruck-A-Chuck is a Class VI rapid that you will be able to watch your guides maneuver on their own. Then we have a couple of lovely miles in a very deep canyon before arriving at our take-out.

      We should be at Driver’s Flat take-out between 3:30 – 4:30pm. We load the boats and gear onto our shuttle vehicles, grab a cool bottle of water, and then it’s a 45-minute drive back to our South Fork Campground. You should be ready to depart for home by 4:00-5:00pm.

    • 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

      2 Day South and Middle Fork American River

    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.