The Class IV+ North Fork of the American River has the most difficult whitewater of the three forks of the American River. Giant boulders scattered throughout a steep, narrow canyon create a technical, challenging slalom. Previous rafting experience is advised.
Your trip begins immediately with a quarter-mile long series of waves, obstacles, and complicated maneuvers. This fast start culminates with a jolting ride through Class IV+ Chamberlain Falls rapid--a careening bend in the river followed by a commanding, sheer drop. Welcome to the first two minutes of every North Fork trip! The Class IV whitewater keeps coming, challenging your paddling skills with each rapid.
Midway through the trip, we break for a satisfying lunch. Here you'll have time to really take in the magnificence of the North Fork canyon--sheer, narrow, stunning. Back to the whitewater, you'll slice through long, complicated Staircase rapid. Soon after, you'll get a chance to relax while leisurely floating through Class II-III rapids to our take-out.
The itinerary above may be altered due to a range of variables, including river flow levels, time of year, and other factors. Contact us if you have any questions.
The action on this river starts immediately with a long quarter-mile stretch of technical whitewater. This rousing introduction ends in a hefty seven-foot drop called Chamberlain Falls. Continuing on, you'll blast through powerful hydraulics and maneuver through some solid Class IV rapids. After an intense morning, we'll break for lunch along the shoreline. You'll be glad when the river mellows out in the afternoon as we head toward take-out, giving you and your friends a well deserved chance to relax and enjoy the canyon.
A narrow and steep canyon of blue-green rock corrals the azure waters of the North Fork. Lush greenery hangs from the cliffs above and wildflowers bloom. The canyon feels so secluded, you and your friends will feel as if you've wandered into your own personal wonderland.
Three hours from San Francisco and one and a half hours from Lake Tahoe, the North Fork American is a short drive from major metropolitan cities. Nearby highways include 50, 80 and 49.
The North Fork is a free-flowing river. This means there are no upstream dams controlling its flow. So when the snow in the mountains begins to melt, the river begins to flow. Flows typically peak early-May.
* Season length and flows may vary. For this year's flow predictions and real-time water levels go to the River Flows page.
We provide a gourmet "build-your-own" sandwich lunch that includes all the fixings you’ll need to assemble the perfect sandwich along with kettle style potato chips, dried fruit, and chocolate. Enjoy your relaxing, riverside meal before heading back out on the water for more adventure.
If you have special dietary requirements, we encourage you to tell us at the time of your reservation so we can discuss options.
During normal water flows, All-Outdoors runs paddle rafts on the North Fork American. In a paddle raft, each guest and a professional guide have a paddle and navigate the river working as a coordinated team. North Fork trips are highly participatory so guests need to be ready and willing to paddle. In high water situations, we may opt to run oar-paddle combination rafts (a professional guide steers the raft with oars while simultaneously calling commands to paddlers). All guests should be able to swim.
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!
One of our specialties is creating fun and memorable whitewater rafting trips for small or large groups.