Best time to go rafting on the American River

American River Rafting Season

The rafting season on the American river can be a year round experience. With hydro-dam controlled releases that are guaranteed, you will find enthusiasts on the river year round! Continue reading to see when the best time to go rafting is on each of the American Rivers.

South Fork American

The South Fork usually flows 4-5 days a week in April and May, and spring can be one of the best times to go. Once Memorial Day Weekend comes around, the South Fork will typically be flowing 7 days a week through Labor day. This is the main season for rafting and when the majority of people go. September usually sees flows on weekends and with less crowds and slightly cooler temps, can be a great time to go.

Middle Fork American River

The Middle Fork season beings Memorial Day weekend and Lasts through the end of September. Most seasons we see 7 day a week releases of normal summertime flows (even in a below average snowpack year). If we have above average snowpack, this season can be delayed into June. You can read more about what to expect rafting a Class 4 river here.

North Fork American

Spring is one of the best time to go rafting on the American River, and the only time of the season that the North Fork American runs. This Class 4+ river has no dams, and relies on snowmelt to fuel its exciting rapids. In a normal season, we see about a 3 week window in Mid April-Early May of runnable flows. If you are not sure on your date, you can give us a call and we can let you know the current seasons projections.

Spring Flowers and Flows

The American River boasts a long season, so when the best time to go depends on what you are looking for! The spring time usually has more water in the rivers due to the snow melting and the hydro-dam operators cannot contain it all.  The Merced River is one of our favorite spring time rivers! Big waves and a close proximity to Yosemite makes for a great weekend adventure. Higher water for rafting the South Fork, for example means faster white water and bigger rapids, good for those seeking a wilder class 3+ ride than the normal class 3 summertime flows, but this can also mean that kids younger than 12 cannot raft, due to these higher flows.  With the higher flows comes colder water, so we provide wet suits and rafting wind breakers for our guest’s safety and comfort.  Springtime is also one of the best times to go white water rafting in California because there are less people on the river (a plus sometimes), and wild flowers in the canyons making it a very unique experience.

best time to raft the american river

Sunny Warm Days

Most rafters prefer a sunny, warm weather day, and the time period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is the busiest for most river rafting companies on the American River.  However, rafting trips are offered all the way into October, as long as the weather holds. Fall trips on the American River can also be a very different trip than the  summer.  The crowds have gone and you can almost have the river to yourself!

So when should you go rafting?

Anytime is the best time to go white water rafting in California! Our American River Rafting season is from April-October so come up and experience the adventure for yourself! Check out the American River Rafting Guide for more information.

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