California: A State of Whitewater
California leads the pack when it comes to states with the most whitewater action, according to the
American Whitewater organization. From the popular American Rivers to the lesser-known, but thrilling Class IV+Stanislaus River, California whitewater rafting offers something for everyone. Not sure which river to conquer first? Take a look below at some of the best California whitewater rafting…
The Tuolumne River
A true wilderness trip on a “Wild and Scenic” river, the Tuolumne River (pronounced Too-all-uh-me) spills 18 miles into a desolate, awesome river canyon roaring with whitewater – big in spring, moderate in late summer. Offered seven months a year, a
Tuolumne rafting trip works perfectly into a California vacation to San Francisco, Napa Valley and the California coast.
Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne River
Boaters tackle one of the
Tuolumne River’s most infamous rapids known as Clavey Falls. This rafting trip offers constant whitewater action and big thrills.
Lower Klamath River
Lower Klamath River in California gently winds through scenic splendor in the northwest corner of this state near the Oregon border. One of the first rivers in California to be granted National “Wild and Scenic” river status, the Klamath River runs free for 180 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The Klamath is treasured for its scenic beauty, diverse wildlife and recreational opportunities.
Kid-friendly Rafting on the Lower Klamath
The Klamath’s water bubbles with bouncy, easy rapids and warm, pleasant swimming holes ideal for young children and families. The focus of this rafting experience on the
Lower Klamath is helping kids gain confidence and interest in the outdoors while the adults kick back and relax.
Middle Fork of the American River
Rafting the Middle Fork of the American River is a “must do” on all rafter’s lists. The Class IV river rushes through a pristine, secluded canyon where a melee of pounding whitewater and the beauty of the Sierra Nevada foothills combine to offer an incomparable whitewater adventure.
Underground Rafting on the Middle Fork of the American River
In 1889, in an effort to divert the flow of the American River in search of gold buried beneath its waters, miners blasted a tunnel through the side of a cliff, unknowingly creating one of the most unique whitewater features anywhere. Now known as “Tunnel Chute”, this long, tumultuous rapid is the heart-stopping highlight of a
Middle Fork American rafting trip which concludes with a stretch of this pounding river disappearing underground.
North Fork Stanislaus River
The North Fork of the Stanislaus River boasts some of the most technical Class IV whitewater rafting in California. Also known as the “Stan,” this epic adventure starts at 4,000 feet and hurtles six miles, at a 70 feet per mile gradient, down to the feet of some of the most massive trees you’ll ever see — the Giant Sequoia groves of
Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Northern California. Granite gorges, meadows of wild azaleas and old Miwok Indian sites slip by one after another, amidst big waves, churning holes and plenty of technically demanding paddling.
North Fork of the American River
The most challenging fork of the American River and rapid after Class IV rapid deliver nearly non-stop, white-knuckling whitewater, followed by a stretch of more gentle Class II-III rapids. Intricate boulder gardens, rushing falls and staircase drops promise intense paddling and plenty of adrenaline-inspiring thrills through the beautiful American River gorge with 2000-foot cliffs, blankets of green grass, colorful wildflowers and black oak and pine forests.
With the hillsides of California’s Sierra Nevada gold-plated in orange California poppies and silvery alpine snows melting fast and furiously, the Merced River is a snapshot of a reawakening wilderness. In April and May, the Class III-IV whitewater just outside of
Yosemite National Park is first class, the stuff of avid paddlers’ winter daydreams. For the rest of the whitewater season, the Merced churns with bold wave trains and slick chutes friendly to rafters of all levels.
South Fork of the American River
Steeped in Gold Rush history, the South Fork of the American River is lined with oak and pine forests which tumble through the Sierra Nevada foothills, creating rolling valleys and gorges which mirror the flows and rolling rapids of this classic Class III California river.
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