A refreshing whitewater raft ride on the South Fork of the American River is the perfect way to beat the mid-summer heat. An ideal weekend getaway or add-on to a family road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area, the American River is an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from the San Francisco via Highway 50. And, despite the light rainy season, reservoirs that feed the river are at over 90% capacity this year, ensuring ample water flow, whitewater rapids and endless thrills.
Steeped in Gold Rush history, the American River is lined with oak and pine forests and tumbles down the Sierra Nevada foothills through rolling valleys and gorges. O.A.R.S., one of the oldest and most established rafting companies of the dozens that ply the rivers of the American West, offers a South Fork two-day trip that is an all-time favorite whitewater adventure, delivering miles of thrilling, non-stop whitewater ideal for rafters of all experience levels. Combined with overnight riverside camping at O.A.R.S. new River Park Adventure Campground in Lotus (near Coloma and the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park) the trip is a near perfect combination of creature comfort, convenience and nature-soaked adventure.
The new campground offers easy access for swimming in the river, individual and group campsites, full mens’ and womens’ bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets, riverside camping (on a limited basis), games including pool tables, horseshoes, volleyball, and a life-size chess board, easy walking distance to local cafes, a nature trail walk, and even free WiFi!
If you prefer not to bring your own camping gear, standard camping gear is available to rent or you can rent their brand new deluxe platform tents set by a babbling brook. A camp store offers tee-shirts, water bottles and clips, invaluable sunglasses and Chums, water shoes, towels, sun block, flashlights, batteries, soft drinks and ice cream.
On the first day of the trip, you walk through the campground to the river and board rafts for a day of fun and sun on the exciting Gorge section of the river. Some of the biggest, most exciting whitewater on the South Fork includes Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar. Salmon Falls Bridge signals the end of the first day on South Fork American River rafting trip. After a short tow by jet ski, the rafters climb aboard a shuttle for the ride back to River Park Adventure Campground
At camp, you can swim or a shower or join a game of volleyball or horseshoes while dinner is prepared. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cold drinks before a hearty guide-prepared evening meal, complete with limited amounts of wine and beer.
Following a hearty breakfast the next morning, you take a 25-minute shuttle ride to the Chili Bar section of the South Fork American River. Meatgrinder rapid is the exciting initiation to day two of splashy, big-water class III fun on the upper section of the river, which also features Racehorse Bend, Triple Threat and infamous Troublemaker for more thrills as the rafts float through golden hills blanketed with greenery. You float through several fun class II rapids where calm pools in-between stretches of whitewater beckon those wishing to cool off and swim before getting back to camp.
For further information, visit O.A.R.S.com or call 855-541-4792.