Cherry Creek is the most challenging commercial river rafting trip in California, and perhaps the entire United States. With a phenomenal 15 Class V rapids and many unnamed Class IV drops, this 9-mile run is incomparable.
MORNING OF THE TRIP
This trip meets the night before for Class V instruction and to review several important details of the following day. The next morning starts very early. After a quick breakfast at put-in, you'll jump into your boat and take on several Class IV rapids right out of the gate. Then we'll stop to test our swimming skills in a Class II rapid before we venture into the Class V section of the river.
Class V Corkscrew and Jawbone rapids are our first challenge, then we tackle the staircase drops and boulders of Class V+ Mushroom Rapid. Just when you think you've seen the ultimate in Class V rafting, along comes Miracle Mile--a mile-long succession of Class V rapids. After Class V+ Lewis' Leap, you'll help portage the boats around two waterfalls. Three Class IV rapids will speed us to our take-out, where you'll enjoy a well-earned late lunch.
The itinerary above may be altered due to a range of variables, including river flow levels, water release schedules, time of year, and other factors. Contact us if you have any questions.
Some say Cherry Creek isn’t the most difficult run in California. They say it’s the most difficult in the entire United States! The river’s 15 Class V whitewater rapids are generated by the canyon’s steep gradient—the river drops more than 100 vertical feet per mile. Narrow and steep, the river is often choked with huge boulders. When you reach the bottom of a Cherry Creek rapid you’ll look back upstream exhilarated, and wish you could hike back up and do it again.
You’ll come for the whitewater, but you’ll fall in love in with the canyon’s beautifully-rugged hills, timeless oaks, and crystalline water rushing past sculptured granite boulders. Because only two outfitters run Cherry Creek, few get to paddle this stunning stretch of the Tuolumne; your group will likely be the only one on the water. This exclusivity means Cherry Creek trips offer nearly private access to a remarkable and isolated canyon.
Just two and half-hours from Sacramento and only three hours from San Francisco, Cherry Creek is close to many metropolitan areas. Highways 140, 120, and 49 are in close proximity. Explore other Yosemite whitewater rafting trip options.
Cherry Creek is a dam-controlled stretch of the Tuolumne River and becomes raftable at lower flows, after the springtime snow melt. Trips therefore usually begin in mid-summer.
* Season length, river flows, and days of water releases may vary. For this year's flow predictions and real-time water levels go to the River Flows page.
On Cherry Creek trips, we get to see you the night before for beverages and snacks during our pre-trip talk. The next morning, we start your day with a continental breakfast of bagels with all the fixings, fresh seasonal fruit, yogurt and granola. Snacks are provided throughout the day. Our gourmet "build-your-own" sandwich lunch includes all the fixings you’ll need to assemble the perfect sandwich along with potato chips, dried fruit, and chocolate.
If you have special dietary requirements, we encourage you to tell us when you reserve your trip so we can discuss options.
All-Outdoors runs oar-paddle combination rafts on Cherry Creek. In an oar-paddle boat, a professional guide steers the boat with oars while simultaneously calling commands to paddlers. It is imperative that everyone be willing and able to paddle. Each guest on our Cherry Creek trips should weigh under 250 lbs, be physically active, have prior watersport experience, be able to swim, and be willing to follow guide instructions in a team environment.
Our goal is to make this incredible but challenging river as accessible to as many people as possible. Cherry Creek requires extensive investment in both logistics and safety so we offer two unique programs to enhance our Creek trips:
First, we offer an intensive Cherry Creek orientation the night before your trip begins. The purpose of the orientation is to familiarize guests with the special requirements of advanced class V rafting, as well as to create group cohesion. Rafting Cherry Creek requires team work and trust; we start building a foundation early so you have the best trip possible.
Second, every All-Outdoors Cherry Creek trip is lead by a Guide Boat or Cataraft. The Guide Boat is paddled by AO guides and runs at the front of each trip to create a “safety net” below rapids. The extra guides also help foster smooth execution of on water trip logistics.
Still have questions about Cherry Creek and whether it is appropriate for you and your group? Visit the Cherry Creek FAQ.
"All Outdoors does a great job. Good equipment, good Safety, great guides, good food. I was very impressed that our two boats with four clients each had a guide boat in front with three guides and one in back with another guide. Safety on the river was paramount. I look forward to another run on Cherry Creek."
Jennifer from San Mateo
Start here to find the best possible deal for your next California whitewater rafting adventure. Please note that only one discount can be applied per person and must be mentioned at the time of reservation.
Youth 17 years or younger receive a 10% discount on any trip on any date!