A yellow raft full of paddlers makes their way through a big rapid as two other boats watch from downstream.

California Rafting & Hiking

A group of young people smiling while rafting through Troublemaker Rapid on the South Fork of the American River.

Raft California

OARS has been providing first-class California whitewater rafting and adventure travel vacations for more than 50 years. We provide rafting trips on six Northern California rivers, including the Forks of the American River, Tuolumne River, Klamath River, Merced River, and Stanislaus River, when conditions allow. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, we have a California rafting trip to suit your level of adventure. Our elite crew of professional and enthusiastic California river rafting guides will carefully guide you down these scenic rivers for the experience of a lifetime.

Find Your Perfect Trip

Adventures in California

Hikers walk along a trail towards a large waterfall in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Hiker

4 Days

Location: California
Adventure Level: Challenging
Minimum Age: 12


Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions?

What rivers does OARS raft in California?

Join OARS for a classic California whitewater rafting adventure on the American River near Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, the Merced or Tuolumne River near Yosemite, or the legendary Stanislaus River into Big Trees State Park. Hike the wilds of Yosemite National Park with our naturalist hiking guides, or consider a family vacation on Northern California’s family-friendly Lower Klamath River. The majority of OARS California whitewater rafting and hiking 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.

For trips on the American River, OARS operates the American River Outpost, which has camping, group options, and meal plans, as well as a small retail store.

How long are California rafting trips?

OARS California rafting trips run between half-day and three days, depending on the river. One-day options are available on the South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork of the American River, the Tuolumne River, the Merced River, and the Stanislaus River. Multi-day combinations are available on the forks of the American River, while multi-day rafting trips are available on the Tuolumne River and Klamath River.

When is the California rafting season?

Most OARS California rafting trips run April through September, offering you a plethora of rafting trip options whether you are looking for a family vacation, a mid-week escape from work, a weekend reprieve from the summer heat, or a creative and unique idea for a bachelor or bachelorette party.

What is the most popular rafting trip in California?

Thousands of people raft the South Fork of the American River every summer, making it one of the most popular trips in the U.S. The 21-mile section provides several rafting options and an ideal balance of adrenaline and fun for families with kids as young as seven. We offer half-day trips, full-day trips with lunch, and wildly fun two-day American River rafting and camping adventures.

What California rafting trip is right for me?

Our California whitewater rafting and hiking adventures include more than a dozen unique itineraries on six different California rivers from April through September. OARS offers a variety of options, from an easy half-day float to a six-day California rafting and hiking vacation.

For beginner to intermediate rafting trips, consider the 1-day Class III South Fork of the American River. Intermediate to advanced rafters should try the Class III-IV Merced River near Yosemite or the South Fork’s 21-miler. Rafters looking for maximum excitement should check out the Tuolumne River, the Middle Fork of the American River, or the technical whitewater of the North Fork of the American River.

Discover your next OARS Adventure

Whitewater river rafting on a river in California.

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