South Fork American River Camp & Raft – Deluxe 2-Day

2 Days / 2 Nights See dates & prices 0 reviews
Location California Adventure Level Easier to Moderate Minimum age 8 (10 - 12 during high water) River Rating Class III From $379
Book Now Call toll-free 1 (800) 346-6277

Combine two action-packed days of white water fun on the South Fork American River with two nights of elevated riverside camping at the OARS at EarthTrek Campground for the ultimate California camp-and-raft adventure package.

Experience all 21 miles of the South Fork American River on this quintessential California rafting adventure, perfect for families and groups looking for a hassle-free getaway in the heart of California’s gold country.

Arrive at our private campground and ease into riverside living at its best–go for a swim, play camp games, or simply kick back with a cold beverage and take in the beauty of the surrounding area as you settle into vacation mode. The following morning, we’ll serve you a hearty breakfast so you don’t have to worry about anything other than gearing up for the river. The real fun begins as you tackle the Gorge section of the South Fork, experiencing fun and splashy rapids such as Barking Dog, Scissors, and Satan’s Cesspool. After an epic day on the water, you’ll return to camp for an evening under the stars and a delectable dinner prepared by our staff. The adventure continues the next day as you take on the Chili Bar section of the river and famous rapids such as Meatgrinder and Troublemaker. Back at camp, we’ll celebrate with a delicious BBQ lunch before you make your way home.

A quick drive from the Bay Area and Sacramento, this American River camping and rafting package on the South Fork is perfect for first-timers and anyone looking to experience the majesty of California’s great outdoors. It’s a rejuvenating experience that will leave you hungry for more, so don’t be surprised if you decide to come back year after year.

Trip Highlights
  • The ultimate California whitewater rafting adventure package 
  • Deluxe riverside camping and hearty meals with OARS at EarthTrek
  • Raft 21 miles on the popular South Fork American River over two days
  • Experience exciting rapids like Satan’s Cesspool, Hospital Bar, Meatgrinder & Troublemaker
  • Float through the heart of California’s scenic Gold Country

What to Expect

Itinerary & Map

Itinerary at a Glance

We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every American River Camp & Raft Deluxe 2-Day trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:

The Day Before Your Trip

Leisurely make your way to the twin towns of Lotus and Coloma and check in to OARS at EarthTrek late afternoon/early evening. Depending on when you arrive, head to the river for a refreshing swim, or challenge a friend to a game of ping-pong or cornhole as you settle into camp and vacation mode. 

Dinner is on your own tonight, but there are plenty of low-key dining options within walking distance of the campground.

Day 1

The morning of your South Fork American white water rafting trip, you will wake up to the sounds of the river and the smell of a delicious hot breakfast being prepared by our camp staff. Breakfast will have plenty of options for the whole group, even those picky eaters. Once you have enjoyed a hot drink and a warm meal you will get ready for your day on the river.

We meet in the main kitchen area to check in with your trip leader and fellow guides who will deliver an orientation and safety talk and fit you with your helmet and personal flotation device or PFD (wetsuits and splash tops also included on all early-season and cold weather trips). Be prepared with shoes that stay fastened to your feet, a water bottle, sunscreen, and a sense of adventure.

We’ll launch our rafts from our private beach. The first part of the day starts off mellow with several miles of Class II rapids allowing you to practice your paddling skills and enjoy plenty of swimming opportunities before entering the ever-exciting “Gorge” later in the day.

After a few hours, your guides will pull ashore to a beach for a riverside picnic. There is access to a BLM pit-toilet restroom at our lunch location. Back in the boats with full bellies, you’ll have time to master a few more Class II rapids before hitting the mightier Class III rapids to come. 

As the river canyon narrows we’ll enter the “Gorge” and work together to navigate the action-packed rapids you have been waiting for—Lost Hat, Satan’s Cesspool, Scissors, and Hospital Bar. As we get closer to the take-out, one last “Surprise” may sneak up on us and provide an exciting finale to our day on the water.

At the Salmon Falls Bridge take-out point, our shuttle vehicles take us back to camp where you are welcome to go for a swim, take a hot shower, or sit back and relax with a beverage as our staff prepares a delectable dinner.

Day 2

Today, we will have another hot breakfast waiting for you before we take a quick, 25-minute drive upstream to the Chili Bar put-in.

Meatgrinder Rapid is the exciting initiation to the splashy, big-water fun on the upper section of the South Fork American. As beautiful river scenes stretch out around us with redtail hawks soaring overhead and the occasional river otter swimming near shore, exciting rapids like Racehorse Bend, Maya, and Triple Threat await us further downstream.

After a short section of Class I-II whitewater, we find ourselves at the notorious Troublemaker Rapid. This solid Class III rapid packs an exhilarating ride and can offer plenty of surprises. Be sure to smile as we make our way through this rapid, as there are often onlookers watching from the shore and usually a photographer waiting to capture the action.

As we float by the historic town of Coloma and the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, where gold was originally discovered in 1848, the trip begins to wind down—but not without a few more stories from your personable and knowledgeable guide.

Our trip will conclude at the OARS at EarthTrek campground for a BBQ lunch before saying goodbye to the staff and our beautiful spot along the South Fork of the American River.

Meeting Time & Place


7340 Hwy 49, Lotus, CA 95651

GPS Coordinates: 38.807542, -120.903373

Adjacent to where Hwy 49 crosses the river, behind Hotshot Imaging and the River Park shopping center. Go all the way to the back where you will see the OARS and EarthTrek signs and room to park. Turn left after leaving the pavement and you will see the entrance to the EarthTrek Campground. View our South Fork driving directions.

Meeting time

10:45 AM the morning of your river trip with camping the night before


Approximately 2:00 PM on Day 2, depending on water levels

Trip Map

Cabin Tent Rentals

OARS at EarthTrek Camp

Enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation with easy camping at OARS at EarthTrek, our campground on the edge of the American River.

Cabin Tent Rental Options:

  • Small Cabin Tents: $80 per night per tent (6-person maximum)
  • Large Cabin Tents: $100 per night per tent (10-person maximum)
  • River Tents: $100 per night per tent (3-person maximum)

Please note that camping reservations must be made in advance of arrival and guests may check-in between 4 and 8 PM.

Dates & Prices

June – September: Thursdays & Saturdays

2024 Prices
Standard Value$399
Youth Value$379
Standard Rate*$439
Youth Rate*$419

*Applicable Saturdays June 15 – August 17

Price includes a $15/person facilities fee.

See below for more ways to save!


• Cabin tent rentals
• $8 per person federal, state, and local access fees

Ways to Save

To book with one of our special offers, call 1-800-346-6277 or contact us today.

The Need-to-Know Info

Trip Details

Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Skilled, professional guide service
  • Full access to campground amenities including hot showers and flush toilets for two nights (cabin tent rentals required at an additional charge)
  • Meals from breakfast on Day 1 through lunch on Day 2
  • High-quality inflatable rafts and related river equipment including paddle, helmet, personal flotation device, and wetsuits and splash tops (included on early and late season trips, cold weather trips, and by advance request)
  • Transfers from the meeting place to the river and back to our campground

Not Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Cabin tent rental 
  • Sleeping bags/bed linens or pillows
  • Transportation to and from our meeting location at EarthTrek Camp
  • River access fees
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
  • Wetsuit booties or shoes of any kind
  • Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
  • Gratuities
A yellow raft full of paddlers goes through a rapid on the South Fork American River.

The number and variety of boats on an OARS trip will vary based on water levels, the number of participants, and other factors we take into account when planning your adventure. Please be aware that in doing so we will ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We don’t assign boats, nor can we guarantee exactly which crafts we bring, but trust us to provide you with the best possible mix for you and others on your trip. 

Learn more about the OARS Fleet and the boats that may be a part of your experience: paddle raft, paddle raft with oar assist on request.

This trip includes all meals from breakfast the morning of your river trip to lunch the following afternoon. Please let us know if you have any dietary needs that we’ll need to consider in planning your trip. With advance notice, we can typically accommodate vegetarian/vegan options.

  • Breakfast – Our warm breakfasts typically feature classic options like pancakes, scrambled eggs, or a make-your-own breakfast burrito bar with all the fixings. Pork sausage and fruit, as well as a selection of cold cereals, oatmeal, and bagels, are also provided along with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and milk/fruit juices.
  • Lunch – Picnic lunches on the river are often an abundant spread of cold cuts, cheeses, veggies, and breads, or perhaps a fresh Caesar salad wrap or tasty taco salad for roll-your-own burritos. Fruit, cookies, cold water, and lemonade are also provided. Lunch on Day 2 will be a BBQ spread at camp.
  • Dinner – Our dinner menu varies depending on the size of groups and other factors but may feature a BBQ entree like tri-trp or teriyaki chicken with a green salad, and several sides like oven-roasted mini garlic potatoes, stir-fry vegetables, or similar. Water, lemonade, and occasionally iced tea are available. 

More info about Meals & Dietary Restrictions can be found on our Trip Resources page.

Average Air & Water Temperatures

Air (Day) °FAir (Night) °FWater °F


A group of students having a blast as they go through a rapid on the South Fork American in a yellow raft.

The South Fork’s exciting Class III whitewater is near-perfect fun for the whole family! The water on the South Fork is released during summer months from hydroelectric facilities located upstream. Such water releases are not subject to the control of El Dorado County or commercial rafting companies.

Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.

  • Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. If you exceed 260 pounds, please give us a call. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

  • Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our Whitewater Orientation video before joining us.
  • Trip Forms: Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms online and submit them no later than 30 days prior to your trip, or immediately if booking within 30 days.

Reservations and Payments

Full payment is required at the time of booking.

Payments can be made by check, money order, eCheck, wire transfer, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Your payment is fully refundable for 48 hours, less a 3% processing fee, after making a reservation when you reserve a trip 7 days or more prior to departure.

Cancellations and Refunds

Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below.

Payments for cabin tents at EarthTrek are refundable if canceled at least 7 calendar days prior to scheduled arrival; cancellations made 6 days or less prior to scheduled arrival are non-refundable.

We regret that we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.

Date of CancellationCancellation Fee
30 or more days before your trip$30/person
29 – 7 days before your trip$50/person. The remainder of your trip payment can be transferred to another trip within the same year (or to a credit account for the following year). No refund.
6 days or less before your trip50% of the trip cost can be credited to another trip (within the same year). No refund.
Late arrivals or “no-shows”No refund or credit.

Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.

Canceled Trips

OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 7 days prior to departure. Do not make non-refundable travel arrangements until you have verified with OARS that your trip is confirmed.

If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a $30/person service fee and any non-refundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers; however, we cannot guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.


If you need to move your reservation to a different trip during the same year, or to a credit account for the following year, there is a $15/person fee up until 30 days prior to departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. If we are 29-7 days prior to your trip departure, there is a $50/person fee to transfer to another trip, within the same year or to a credit account for the following year. If we are 6 days or less prior to departure, 50% of your trip cost can be credited to another trip within the same year only.

O.A.R.S. West, Inc. is a permitted outfitter of El Dorado County & the California Department of Parks and Recreation Gold Fields District.

Ancestral Lands Acknowledgement

We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons on state and federal lands where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the South Fork of the American River between Chili Bar and Salmon Falls Bridge, we acknowledge the territories of the Nisenan.

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