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Each year, more than 100,000 people ride the most popular whitewater channel in California, the South Fork of the American River. The rapids are abundant but less turbulent than the North and Middle forks, which offer bigger challenges to more experienced rafter. With names like Bogus Thunder, Triple Threat, Meatgrinder, Troublemaker, Old Scary Rapid, and Murderer's Gorge, it's wise to respect the river at all times, come prepared, and have a blast!

Well-named Troublemaker

River Classifications for Rafting

Top of pageSouth Fork American River (Class III) - The 21-mile river run from Chili Bar can be made in a full day or a more relaxing two day trip. Picnicking is availble at the Dave Moore Nature Area, which is accessible by automobile from Highway 49 or by boat on the river. Take U.S. 50 to Placerville, then follow Hwy. 49 north to Hwy. 193 to the Chili Bar Reservoir. See also American River.

Top of pageCosumnes River (Class I) - The last undammed river in the western Sierra offers spots to cool off. Swimming sites are off Mt. Aukum and Bucks Bar Roads, east of Highway 49 and southeast of Placerville. The Cosumnes River Preserve and Visitor Center (near Galt) keeps alive the largest remaining valley oak riparian forest in California, and they offer kayaking tours.

Top of pageOf Interest
Rafting Safety Tips
Aqua Smart (River Safety)
River Signals
How to be River Ready
River Classifications for Rafting
River Outfitters
River Outfitters Permitted by BLM*
Rafting the American River South Fork
Rafting the American River North Fork
Rivers & Floods
California Dept. of Boating & Waterways
Bureau of Land Management, Folsom
Whitewater Rafting (Auburn SRA)

Current American River Conditions
More about the South Fork American River
American River Conservancy
More about rivers in El Dorado County

*Contact Bureau of Land Management for river outfitters permitted by BLM:

BLM Mother Lode Field Office
5152 Hillsdale Circle
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

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This website is an independent community project developed and maintained by Donna Reddin of
It is not associated in any way with the County government website