Just a short drive from South Lake Tahoe down Highway 50 is the American River.  The river starts in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (that would be us) and meanders its way down to the Gold Country.  Meander might be too tame of a term.

The American River is California’s most popular and historic rafting river.  With three different forks, the North, Middle and South, the degree in difficulty ranges from Class II to III-IV.  The South Fork is the most popular as it has the most consistent water throughout the summer.  While it’s not for beginners, there are several outfitters along the river who can take you down if you don’t have your own raft.

Usually, the water comes from snow melt.  This year, due to the ongoing drought, the water comes from releases at the Chili Bar dam.  The water is ultimately used for irrigation in the central and Sacramento Valleys, but recreational people get to use it first.  This is a good thing.  The release acts like a big bubble that comes out and moves down river for about two hours.  So time it right and catch the bubble.

South Fork of the American River

South Fork of the American River

River Rafting2