South Fork | Middle Fork American River Rafting Combo

Location California Adventure Level Moderately Challenging Minimum age 14 River Rating Class III-IV From $369
A young person splashes with a paddle during an OARS rafting trip on the South Fork of the American River.
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Double the fun and raft both the South Fork and Middle Fork of the American River for the ultimate 2-day California whitewater rafting adventure.

Our South Fork & Middle Fork American River Combo offers more river miles than any other 2-day river rafting trip in California. This exciting 2-day adventure begins on the fun Class III South Fork of the American River, then steps up to a day of aggressive paddling through action-packed Class IV whitewater on the Middle Fork of the American River. Between trips, enjoy a hot shower, camp games, and a night of catered camping so you can kick back with your crew.

Trip Highlights
  • Hassle-free camping & rafting on the American River near in California’s scenic Gold Country
  • Tackle 29 river miles and 24 named rapids with the most professional guides on the water
  • Warm up on the Class III South Fork with rapids like Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool & Hospital Bar
  • Enjoy the amenities of our riverside campground with delicious guide-prepared meals, modern restrooms & hot showers
  • Raft the Middle Fork American River and the infamous Tunnel Chute
  • Paddle more Class IV whitewater rapids like Chunder, Parallel Parking, Texas Chainsaw Mama & Final Exam

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What to Expect

Itinerary & Map

Itinerary at a Glance

We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every South Fork & Middle Fork American River Combo trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, camp locations, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:

Day 1

Meet at the OARS American River Outpost on the morning of your trip. Once everyone checks in with the trip leader, your guides will deliver an orientation and safety talk and fit you with your helmet and PFD (wetsuits and splash tops are also included on all early-season and cold-weather trips). Then, we’ll walk down to our beach and launch our rafts right from camp.

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. Don’t miss the chance to hop in the water for Swimmers’ Rapid, a fun wave-train rapid that lets paddlers experience what it feels like to swim a rapid, before entering the ever-exciting “Gorge” later in the day.

Come lunchtime, we will pull over to a beach for a delicious guide-prepared picnic. There is access to a BLM pit-toilet restroom at our lunch location. After lunch, we’ll keep an eye out for Gorilla Rock before the canyon walls constrict and we reach Fowler’s Rock, the first of our action-packed Class III rapids that will offer up big thrills throughout the afternoon. 

The real excitement comes at us when we officially enter the Gorge and reach Satan’s Cesspool, the biggest rapid of the day, followed by other favorite rapids like Scissors, Bouncing Rock, 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

The next morning, we will enjoy a cold “boatman’s breakfast”, which includes hot coffee, before our shuttle ride to the put-in on the Middle Fork. 

Aptly-named Good Morning—a big-wave Class III rapid—gets our blood flowing and hearts pumping right out of the gates on our Middle Fork American River whitewater rafting trip. Then, the ominous roar of Tunnel Chute is the presage we hear before the river rushes downward 25 feet through a man-made chute and then into a 90-foot tunnel blasted through the canyon wall. (Some guests and groups of guests may be asked by the guides to walk around Tunnel Chute.

The thrilling action continues with big, steep rapids like Cathedral and Kanaka Falls. Then the river changes considerably, meandering over several miles of calm water and allowing us the opportunity to rest while gazing at the beautiful scenery. Now in the heart of Auburn State Recreation Area, steep walls covered in pine forests plunge down into the boulder-strewn river. In spring, the green hillsides are adorned with colorful wildflowers; later in the season, the hills turn a golden yellow that contrasts sharply with the green woods.

Come lunchtime, we’ll pull over to a beach for a delicious picnic prepared by your guides. This is the perfect opportunity to kick back and recount the day’s highlights so far.

Back on the rafts, we’ll continue through the scenic flat water section before we prepare for another long stretch of continuous whitewater action. An intense Class IV drop, Chunder, provides thrills and chills before we get out of the boats and scramble around the roaring, 30-foot waterfall, Ruck-A-Chucky Falls. As we negotiate the rugged path around the side of the pounding falls, you can look back up to watch your guides maneuver the rafts down this dramatic stretch of whitewater. Our day concludes with another mile and a half of great whitewater and rapids.

As we reach our take-out point, an OARS shuttle will be waiting to give us a ride back to the OARS American River Outpost. Our peaceful hideaway is surrounded by plenty of Gold Rush history, recreational opportunities, and cultural activities. Stay with us as long as you like and explore the region.

Meeting Time & Place


7330 River Park Drive, Lotus, CA 95651 Adjacent to where Hwy 49 crosses the river, behind Hotshot Imaging and the River Park shopping center. View our American River Outpost driving directions.

Meeting time

10:30 AM or 11 AM on Day 1 (refer to pre-trip email)


Approximately 4:30 – 5 PM on Day 2

Trip Map

Camp With Us!

Limited camping for rafters is available before and/or after your trip at the OARS American River Outpost in Lotus. All nights of camping are $15 per person/night. Advance reservations are required. Please ask an Adventure Consultant about the details of staying at our beautiful riverside camp.

Campground Amenities

Located on twelve gorgeous acres, stretching over a third of a mile on the riverfront, the OARS campground offers modern shower and bathroom facilities, a small store (cash currently not accepted; cards and electronic payments only), beach and river access, camp games, and free WiFi. All within a few minutes walk of Sierra Rizing Bakery & Coffee House and a handful of other local restaurants.

Don’t have your own gear? Rental options include:

  • Sleep Kit (sleeping bag, pad, pillow & sheet): $25 per person
  • 2-Person Tent: $30
  • 4-Person Family Tent: $50
  • 2-Person Pre-set Platform Tent (with 2 comfy twin beds, all bedding, and a private deck with two chairs): $99/night + $15/person/night camping fee

Please note that camping reservations must be made in advance of arrival and guests may check-in between 3:30 and 8 PM. Platform tents are refundable if canceled at least two calendar days prior to scheduled arrival; cancellations within 48 hours of scheduled arrival will be non-refundable.

Dates & Prices

Memorial Day Labor Day: Monday/Tuesday
Memorial Day – September: Thursday/Friday
Memorial Day – September: Saturday/Sunday

2023 DeparturesPrice
Mondays & Thursdays$369

Full payment is required at the time of booking.

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• $16 per person federal, state, and local access fees
• Wetsuits included/required on early season and cold weather day

Ways to Save

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

Book Two People

Book 2 people on any 1- or 2-day full-price American River rafting trip and get a tent rental & two sleep kits free!

The Need-to-Know Info

Trip Details

Included in Your Trip Cost

  • Skilled, professional guide service
  • 1 night catered camping, with hot showers and flush toilets
  • Meals from lunch on day one through lunch on day two, with limited beer and wine at dinner
  • 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

  • Transportation to and from our meeting location at our American River Outpost
  • 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
  • Tents and sleep kits (available to rent from OARS)

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. 

For Middle Fork American River rafting trips, please be aware that in the interest of safety for both guides and guests, we can only take 6 guests in each raft. We try very hard to not split groups, but sometimes, based on how different group sizes match up, it is simply unavoidable and we may ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We thank you in advance for your understanding. 

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

Our 2-day South Fork & Middle Fork American River Rafting Combo trip includes all meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 2. Please let us know if you have any dietary needs that we’ll need to consider in planning your trip. 

  • Breakfast – We serve a cold  “boatman’s breakfast” which includes a make-your-own bagel station with lox, spinach, tomato, avocado, and cream cheese. A variety of fruit is also provided along with coffee and tea.
  • 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. 
  • Dinner – Our dinner menu varies depending on the size of groups and other factors but may feature anything from barbecued chicken, steak, or fajitas to Dutch oven lasagna. An appetizer, dessert, and a limited selection of beer and wine are included. 

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

The weather in Southern Oregon is typically quite favorable during the summer months. The days are long and typically dry, making for a pleasant journey. Like anywhere, though, the weather can be unpredictable at times. Early and late-season trips can bring a wider range of temperatures, and one should always be prepared for rain. 

Average Air & Water Temperatures

Air (Day) °FAir (Night) °FWater °F (SFA/MFA)
May78-7850-5460 / 55
June83-8756-6066 / 58
July90-9462-6668 / 61
Aug89-9361-6567 / 65
Sept83-8757-6166 / 64


Together, the South Fork American River Gorge stretch and Middle Fork American River offer a range of Class II-IV whitewater and cover 29 total river miles with 24 named rapids. Water levels sufficient for rafting on the two forks during the summer months are a result of releases 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.


Full payment is required at the time of booking. Payments may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). 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.

Canceling your trip after your payment has been 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.

Cancellations and Refunds

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.

If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret 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. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early.  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$15 per person
29 – 7 days before your tripPayment can be transferred to another trip within the same year (or to a credit account for the following year) for $30/person transfer fee. 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 nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip. 

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 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable 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 can’t 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 $30/person fee to transfer to another trip, within the same year only. Transfer requests made 6 days or less prior to departure, 50% of your trip cost can be credited to another trip, within the same year only. Transfer requests made the day of departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.

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, and on the Middle Fork of the American River between Oxbow Reservoir and Greenwood Bridge, we acknowledge the territories of the Nisenan.

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