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South Fork American River

Welcome to a genuine whitewater rafting experience that is fun for all ages.

Where Excitement meets Ease – Whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River is a sure way to fall in love with the sport. The river offers fifty rapids in just 21 miles, making it an excellent choice for first timers and intermediate river rafters. It promises some exciting Class 3 rapids. It’s a thrilling run that is considered safe for children ages 7+ and adults of all ages and experience levels.

The launch point for this crowd-pleasing river adventure is located near Coloma, CA, just a short drive from:

  • Sacramento (1 hour driving)
  • Lake Tahoe (1.5 hours)
  • San Francisco Bay Area (2.5 hours)

Rapids Highlights on the South Fork

  • Length: 11-21 miles (Varies varies by trip)
  • “Meatgrinder Rapid”: longest (but not the wildest!) on the river
  • “Triple Threat Rapid”: three rollicking rapids, right in a row
  • “Troublemaker”: most powerful rapid, but not the biggest
  • “Swimmer’s Rapid”: a fun, small wave train that leads to a huge pond to recover in
  • “The Gorge”: rapids come non-stop for 6 miles, with breaks after the big ones
  • “Hospital Bar”: biggest wave on the South Fork
  • “Satan’s Cesspool”: a guest favorite!

Spectacular Scenery

Located in the beautiful Sierra foothills, the South Fork of the American River rafting experience offers plenty of calm water and rest stops along the way, allowing you to take in the thriving flora and fauna of one of California’s most unique ecosystems. The river flows through Coloma State Park, the original site of gold discovery in California in 1848.

Attentive, Experienced Guides and Flexible Trip Itineraries

Service and connection to our guests and to the river experience remains our passion. We are proud to offer some of the most knowledgeable, fun, and attentive guides for your rafting journey along the South Fork of the American River. For almost 40 years, our family-owned company has been taking groups and individuals of every experience level down the river. We’re humbled to have received many positive testimonials over the years.

Our trips are customizable according to the needs of your group. Call us to discuss any accessibility concerns or trip objectives and we will help you design a truly spectacular South Fork river rafting experience. Half-day, Full Day, and Two-Day trips are available.

Whitewater Excitement’s private campground offers riverside camping with modern bathroom facilities (hot showers, flush toilets), right on the riverbank. We do not use public campgrounds or off-river campsites for our trips.

When to Plan Your Adventure

The season for whitewater rafting on the South Fork lasts from early March through October.

Spring: Early March through Memorial Day. Higher water flows due to snowmelt and/or rain. The wildflowers are out and crowds are low.

Summer: Peak season is June through Labor Day weekend. Temperatures are very warm; hydro-dams give us controlled steady releases for continuous whitewater fun.

Fall: Lasts until October. Great flows and warm temperatures. A great time to try a trip on the American River.

Group Discount on All Trips

We offer one of the best group discounts in the industry! Pay for five rafters and the 6th person is free. This discount is applied automatically at checkout on all of our trips.

Scroll below to see our full list of standard trips on the South Fork.

Ready to book your rafting trip on the South Fork American River?

  • Call us at 1-800-750-2386 to speak to a real person; or,
  • Reserve your trip directly with our Online Booking system.

Not sure what trips are available, or looking for something you don’t see?

  • Call us at 1-800-750-2386 to speak to a real person; or,
  • Fill out our online Check Availability form and receive a response within 24 hours with more options and details.

South Fork American river rafting map

  • South Fork American river action.

    Gorge Run Day Trip

    Description: The South Fork American river Gorge Run is our most popular 1 Day trip that we offer. It is perfect for first timers, families … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 1 Day
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: Adventurous First Timer, First Timer, Intermediate
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $105
    Book now!
  • rafters smiling after big rapid

    South Fork American River PM 1/2 Day Trip

    Description:   This is our most popular ½ day American River rafting trip.For those short on time, our Afternoon Half Day runs the “Gorge Section” of … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 1/2 Day
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: First Timer
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp (Map)
    STARTING AT $85
    Book now!
  • South Fork American River Deluxe 2 Day Trip

    Description:  How does this sound? Spend two days whitewater rafting, two nights of camping out, and enjoy five gourmet meals, all at our own private … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 2 Days
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: First Timer
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $270
    Book now!
  • rafters smiling after fun rapid

    South Fork American River STANDARD – 2 Day Trip

    Description:  Perfect choice for those who don’t want to drive up the night before.  Spend two days whitewater rafting, 1 night of camping out, and … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 2 Days
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: Adventurous First Timer, First Timer, Intermediate
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $250
    Book now!
  • rafters all smilies after a big rapid

    South Fork American River Chili Bar 1 Day Trip

    Description: Raft the 10 Mile Chili Bar section of the South Fork of the American river.  “Meatgrinder”, “Triple Threat”, and Troublemaker are just some of … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 1 Day
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: First Timer
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp (Map)
    STARTING AT $105
    Book now!
  • rafters high 5 after rapid

    Ultimate South Fork American 2 Day Trip

    Are you looking for more rafting and rapids in 2 days, then our Ultimate South Fork American 2 day trip is the perfect choice for … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 2 Days
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: Adventurous First Timer, First Timer, Intermediate
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $300
    Book now!
  • rafters all smiling in rapid

    South Fork American River AM Half Day

    Description:   Our South Fork American River AM Half Day Express Trip is a 10 mile adventure that shoots you down  the “Upper” Chili Bar section … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 1/2 Day
    • Class: III
    • Min. age: 7
    • Skill: Adventurous First Timer, First Timer
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $70
    Book now!
  • rafting lined up on river

    Young Rafters Overnight Trip

    Description:   Add Camping to your Young Rafters Adventure – Come in the night before your trip and spend the night camping, have a great BBQ … Learn more

    • River: South Fork American River
    • Length: 1/2 Day
    • Class: II
    • Min. age: 4
    • Skill: First Timer
    • Departs from: WWE Base Camp - Lotus, CA (Map)
    STARTING AT $110
    Call to book 800.750.2386