California White Water Rafting

California Whitewater Rafting
California Hiking

Why choose O.A.R.S. for your California rafting or adventure vacation?

Our California whitewater rafting and multi-sport adventure getaway trips includes over sixteen unique itineraries on nine different California rivers from March through September. O.A.R.S. offers a variety of options in California whitewater from an easy half-day float to a two-day rafting and wine-tasting escape to a six-day wilderness vacation and everything in-between.

We offer introductory California rafting trips for the timid (we all start somewhere!), gourmet excursions for wine connoisseurs and gourmands, as well as some serious Class V whitewater rafting thrills for adrenaline junkies. The majority of O.A.R.S. California river rafting adventures are within a half-day’s journey from San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and Yosemite National Park.

O.A.R.S. has guided more than 450,000 guests on rivers and coastlines throughout California, the Western U.S., and worldwide. Our elite crew of professional guides are the single most important component of our organization and always get top compliments from our guests. Our guides’ intimate knowledge of whitewater safety, swift water rescue, technical guiding skills and their friendly, outgoing personalities will ensure you have an unforgettable California whitewater rafting trip no matter which O.A.R.S. adventure you choose. These multi-faceted folk live and play in the Northern California and the Sierra Nevada area and love sharing places that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds. Join us on an O.A.R.S. California rafting adventure this summer!


Thinking about a vacation in California?

If California isn’t the whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, surfing, wine-producing, sunbathing, mountain biking, and snow skiing capital of the world it ought to be! Here are some fun facts about California vacationing:

  • California is second only to Idaho in terms of river rafting miles in the U.S.  However, our commercial boating season lasts longer - from early spring into fall.

  • California has 1,264 miles of coastline.  With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, that’s a whole lot of opportunities to surf, sunbathe and splash in our rivers.

  • There are 33 major downhill ski areas in California, with loads of open space for cross- and back-country skiing.  (And in some cases, you may be able to ski one day and raft the next!  What other state offers that?)

  • California accounts for over 90% of total U.S. wine production.

  • Marin County, just north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, is the well-documented birthplace of mountain biking.  The Sierra Nevada region to the east offers a bigger, steeper and seemingly endless playground for the mountain biking enthusiast.

  • California is a rock climber’s Mecca:  Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree National Parks, need we say more?

  • Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Mojave, Redwood, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.  Nine, count ‘em, nine national parks in the State of California. 

  • No trip to the Sierra Nevada Foothill region would be complete without panning for gold or investigating California’s Gold Rush history.  Charming Old West towns sprouted up throughout the foothills as a result of gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, near the town of Coloma on the South Fork of the American River, on January 24, 1848.

California Whitewater Rafting
North Fork Stanislaus rafting in Big Trees State Park
Tuolumne River
Wine on the River | Tuolumne
Wagon Wheel Falls in Yosemite
Class IV California Rafting
Camping on the South Fork American River
Middle Fork American River Whitewater Rafting
Tunnel Chute on the Middle Fork American River
Lower Klamath River
South Fork American River Rafting
Tuolumne River Whitewater Rafting
North Fork Stanislaus River Rafting
Campfire on the South Fork American River
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Wine on the Tuolumne River
Calaveras Big Trees State Park Rafting
Yosemite Rafting on the Tuolumne River
Yosemite National Park
Clavey Falls | Tuolumne River Whitewater Rafting
Half Dome | Yosemite National Park
California Family Adventure Vacation
Camping near Yosemite on the Tuolumne River
Lower Klamath River Famly Vacation
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O.A.R.S. White Water Rafting in CaliforniaCalifornia Visitors Guide

Join O.A.R.S. for a classic California white water adventure rafting the American River, Merced or Tuolumne River near Yosemite, or the Stanislaus into Big Trees State Park. Or consider a family vacation with us on the Lower Klamath or our Yosemite & Tuolumne Hiker. O.A.R.S. has been providing first class California whitewater rafting and adventure travel vacations for more than 40 years. We know how to create the magic on a classic California river rafting trip – stunning western scenery, exciting whitewater rapids and captivating companionship. We provide rafting trips on nine Northern California rivers, rated Class II-V; and whether you are a beginner or an expert, we have a California rafting trip to suit your thirst for adventure.  Our elite crew of professional and enthusiastic California river rafting guides will carefully guide you down these scenic rivers for the adventure of your lives.

The majority of O.A.R.S. California whitewater rafting and multi-sport adventures are within a half-day’s journey from San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and Yosemite National Park. O.A.R.S. California rafting trips run March through September, offering you a plethora of rafting trip options whether you are looking for a family vacation in California, a mid-week escape from work, a weekend reprieve from the summer heat, a creative and unique idea for a bachelor or bachelorette party or just an excuse to brag amongst your friends at the water cooler!

Family River Rafting Trips in California and Trips for Beginners and Families

American River Rafting on the South Fork of the American River near Sacramento offers classic California whitewater: crisp, clear, refreshing water flowing over spectacular granite rocks and boulders.  Nestled in the bucolic open spaces of the Sierra Nevada foothills, the American River in California provides an ideal balance of adrenaline and fun.  We offer half-day American River rafting on the South Fork of the American River, South Fork full day trips and a wildly fun 2-day American River rafting adventure.

Rafting the Wild and Scenic Lower Klamath River in Northern California near the Oregon border is the perfect family rafting adventure for those with young children.  The Klamath River has fun, bouncy rapids, warm swimming holes, diverse wildlife and a range of recreational opportunities.  This river is also an ideal place to learn how to use an inflatable kayak. We offer a 3-day Lower Klamath Rafting trip (Class II) which your kids will just rave about!

California Whitewater Rafting Adventures for Everyone

The Tuolumne River is the crown jewel of California whitewater rafting trips; it's less than four hours from the San Francisco Bay Area and minutes from the northern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  The Tuolumne River cascades through a spectacular Wild and Scenic river canyon offering a true outdoor adventure experience.  Our Tuolumne River rafting trips are ideal for first-time campers, as we typically stop for the night at comfy, cozy riverside locations. We offer 1-day Tuolumne rafting options for those who don't care to camp, as well as a 2-day or more relaxing 3-day trip which includes side hikes up the river canyon. Tuolumne River rafting trips are rated Class IV, with one or two rapids reaching Class V during spring runoff periods.

Whitewater rafting the Middle Fork of the American River offers what will surely be the most memorable rapid of your life: Tunnel Chute.  This exciting rapid drops through a steep chute into frothy, churning water, after which it passes through a 90-ft long tunnel.  And that’s just one of six Class IV rapids on the Middle Fork American. O.A.R.S. offers a scenic one-day trip rafting the Middle Fork American.

California rafting on the Merced River, is a spring must-do. The Merced River is located alongside Highway 140 near Yosemite National Park's Arch Rock Entrance.  The Merced's whitewater is famous for its fun rollercoaster wave trains.  In the early spring, abundant wildflowers found along the hillsides provide a stunning backdrop for an easy, wonderful hike.  Toss in a trip to Yosemite Valley to witness dramatic waterfalls and your California vacation getaway will be a home run.  We offer a one-day Merced River rafting adventure with rapids rated Class III-IV with some Merced rapids reaching Class V during spring runoff periods.

White Water Rafting in California: Excitement for the Adrenaline-Infused

A Class IV white water rafting trip on the North Fork American River is a natural follow-up to a spring skiing vacation in Lake Tahoe and is easily combined with a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.  The North Fork of the American River in California is located near Auburn, just off Interstate 80. This section of the American River offers aquamarine waters, towering rock walls, spectacular displays of spring wildflowers and some of the most challenging white water rapids in the American River system. We offer a 1-day North Fork American River trip between April and June.

Think you’re ready for big-time river rafting in California?  Test your fear-factor-fortitude on the North Fork Stanislaus River, where you will paddle through the most technical Class IV, boulder-strewn rapids in California.  The Stanislaus River in the high sierras flows through the Giant Sequoia trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and is just down the hill from Bear Valley Mountain Resort. This unique Class IV+ 1-day rafting trip on the Stanislaus River will give you an adrenaline surge like none other!

California Winetasting and Rafting—What Could be Better?

Long before Napa Valley was the center of the California wine country, the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada were home to some of the most scenic and fruitful California wineries in the state.  Prohibition changed that – the wineries in the former Gold Rush area folded. However, the Sierra Foothills near Sacramento are experiencing a rebirth in the wine industry, with more than 150 wineries located throughout the region.  We would like to introduce you to some of these wines on our multi-day, award-winning California Wine on the River adventures. Combining rafting on the Tuolumne River with meals prepared by renowned chefs and eclectic California wines presented by local vintners, makes this gourmet getaway a must-do!

California Adventure Vacation— Rafting, Yosemite Hiking & Sightseeing Fun for All

The soaring granite cliffs, countless free-falling waterfalls and giant sequoia groves of Yosemite National Park, beckon travelers to the heart of the Sierra Nevada Range in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  O.A.R.S. offers a uniquely active California hiking and rafting adventure in Yosemite.  Hike with local naturalists amongst some of the largest living organisms on the planet near Yosemite Falls and Cloud's Rest, to view the West's most iconic rock formation.  Top it all off with two days of Class IV rafting on the world-class whitewater of the Tuolumne River, and you have the quintessential California outdoor adventure.

Got questions? Need to check availability for a trip? Ready to book your next adventure? Our friendly and experienced O.A.R.S. Adventure Consultants pride themselves in helping you find your ideal adventure vacation.   Call 1-800-346-6277 or email today to discuss your many options.

“I’ve known all along that more of what I am seeking in the wilds is right here in my home state of California than anywhere else on earth.  But…I couldn’t say it with authority until I had all those journeys to Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan, China, South America, Antarctica, and Alaska behind me.” Galen Rowell

O.A.R.S is a member of the California Rafting Alliance at

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O.A.R.S. is an author ized concessioner of Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Grand Te ton National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument.
Outside Travel Awards 'Best Outfitter' Runner Up National Geographic Adventure Magazine - Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth As Featured On 50 Tours of a Lifetime - National Geographic Traveler Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservations Manager Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist 2007-2013 (River Rafting) Best of the Bay Area Winner

For consecutive years, O.A.R.S. has been named the "Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure and one of the top two outfitters in the world by Outside Magazine in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program. In multiple years, O.A.R.S.trips have been honored as "50 Tours of a Lifetime" by National Geographic Traveler and since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler's standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category.

Questions about trips or making reservations? Contact or call 800-346-6277 in the USA or Canada or 1-209-736-4677 if outside the USA or Canada.
O.A.R.S. Companies Inc.,
PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222