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

2 Day South Fork American River Rafting Trip

2 Day South Fork American River Rafting Trip

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

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


    Adult: $309
    Youth: $279
    Youth: $139.50 (one youth per one full paying adult 50% discount)
    Youth: $139.50 (additional youth 30% discount)
    plus 8% River Use Fee
    Adult: $265
    Youth: $133 (one youth per one full paying adult 50% discount)
    Youth: $212 (additional youth 20% discount)
  • Plus 8% River Use Fee
  • Group rates are available.

Not Included: 8% River Use Fee, gratuities

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


The 2 Day South Fork American River Rafting Trip, located near Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, and only 2.5 hours from San Francisco,is one of the most popular rivers in California. This Class II-III, California Whitewater Rafting Trip, will take you through beautiful mountain terrain.


The 2 Day South Fork American River Rafting Trip is perfect for those of you looking for a special California overnight getaway on non-scary rapids. The wine tasting during hors d’oeuvres after the first day of rafting provides you with a introduction to the high quality of wines from the El Dorado County. Our meet time is 9:00am on Saturdays and 9:00 on Mondays & Thursdays, 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 3:00pm.

If you are looking to extend your adventure please consider camping with us an extra night, either before or after your trip. If we already have a breakfast scheduled for your first morning, you are welcome to join us.The additional camping and meals are for a small add-on price.

Download: South Fork 2-Day Rafting Trip DIRECTIONS and PACKING LIST.

  • Trip Includes

    • LENGTH OF RIVER: 21 miles of river
      • First Day: 11 miles, Mariah camp to Salmon Falls Bridge
      • Second Day: 10.5 miles, Chili Bar Put-In to Mariah Camp
    • TIME ON RIVER: 2 days of whitewater rafting
      • First Day: 3.3 hours plus 45 minutes for lunch
      • Second Day: 3 hours plus BBQ lunch back at camp
    • MEALS: 4 meals
      • First Day: Lunch, Dinner
      • Second Day: Breakfast, Lunch
    • CAMPING: 1 night of camping (night during)
    • AMENITIES: hot water showers, flush toilets, pingpong, volleyball, horseshoes, wine-tasting during hors d’oeuvres
    • GUIDES & EQUIPMENT: professional, fun loving river guides, instruction, river equipment & river shuttles
  • Day 1

    10:00 AM (SATURDAY), 10:45 AM  (MONDAY, THURSDAY): Meet, greet, and sign in with your head guide. .

    11:00-11:30 AM (SATURDAY)  12:30AM (MONDAY, THURSDAY): Launch your boats and begin 3 miles of Class II rapids.

    12:00-12:30 PM: Picnic lunch on banks of the river. During the middle of the week, lunch is usually served at camp as we wait for the water to reach our camp.

    1:00 PM: Continue downriver, 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, 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 very instructional as 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, 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 20-minute drive back to camp.

    DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK we have our lunch at the Mariah Campground, and launch our boats after lunch. 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 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

    8:00 AM: The breakfast bell rings.

    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 AM: Conquer Troublemaker Rapid, the biggest of the river!

    12:30-1:00 PM: Enjoy 5 miles of relaxing Class I-II rapids, & beautiful scenery.

    1:00-1:30 PM: Arrive by river to the Mariah Campground and enjoy a BBQ lunch, & Be sure to stop in at our professional photographers’ shop, Hot Shot Imaging, to view and purchase your trip photos.

    2:30-3:00 PM: Depart for your next destination.

    The day begins at 8:00am with a delicious breakfast, usually pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, cereal, juice, fresh coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. However, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are ready by 7:30am in Mariah’s unique Coffee Corner.

    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; 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.

    Arriving back at Mariah’s campground we enjoy a hearty barbeque lunch. You will have time to shop for souvenir t-shirts in our walk-in store, say goodbye to your guides and exchange email addresses with the other participants. You will be ready to depart exhilarated and refreshed for your next destination by 2:30-3:00pm.  Be sure to stop in at our professional photographers’ shop, Hot Shot Imaging, to view and purchase your trip photos.

  • 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.
  • Our Menus

    We pride ourselves on the quality and variety of our meals.We can accommodate many different dietary requirements, so let us know if you are vegetarian, need gluten-free, or have food allergies such as to peanuts and dairy. Breakfasts can include pancakes, sausage, build your own egg burrito, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cereals. One day our lunches include build your own deli sandwiches; another day, at camp, we usually have a barbeque lunch. Peanut butter & jelly are always available. Dinners include barbequed steak & chicken, fresh salad, garlic bread, potatoes and dessert.
  • View River Rapids Map

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.