California > Middle Fork American River Rafting

Middle Fork American River Rafting

1 Day from $155
Trip Highlights
  • Class IV Middle Fork American River rafting through the Auburn State Recreation Area
  • Raft Tunnel Chute an underground rapid blasted out by gold miners
  • Delicious riverside picnic lunch
  • Intense Chunder rapid thrills before a walk around roaring 35-foot Ruck-A-Chucky Falls
  • Paddle through whitewater rapids like Parallel Parking, Texas Chainsaw Mama and Final Exam
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(19 reviews)

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 Traveller Best of the Bay Area Winner

Call Toll Free: 800-346-6277 or enter the month and year you want to go on this trip.
The season runs May - September.

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Departure Dates
Meeting Place
Driver’s Flat turn-out, Foresthill Rd, near Auburn

20% Discount for Groups of 12 or More! (call for details)

$155 Weekdays

$175 Saturdays
$159 Sundays

Additional Costs:
$8 per person per day federal, state and local access fees

Ask about our free camping at the O.A.R.S. River Park Adventure Campground

7330 River Park Drive, Lotus, CA 95651

38.806327, -120.903538

Adjacent to where Hwy 49 crosses the river, behind Hotshot Imaging and the River Park shopping center


River Rating Minimum Age
Class IV14 (16 during high water)
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American River Rafting - Middle Fork: Overview

Download Itinerary

The Middle Fork of the American River is a "must do" on all rafters' lists! The Class IV Middle Fork of the American 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 rafting adventure in California near Sacramento. In 1889, in search of gold buried beneath the American River, miners blasted a tunnel through the side of a cliff to divert the water, creating one of the most unique whitewater features anywhere. Now known as "Tunnel Chute," this long, tumultuous rapid, which concludes with 90 feet of this pounding river disappearing underground, is the heart-stopping highlight of this thrill-packed Middle Fork American rafting experience.

Middle Fork American River Rafting: Itinerary at a Glance

  • Aptly named Good Morning, a big-wave Class III rapid gets our blood flowing and hearts pumping on our Middle Fork American River rafting trip through the scenic Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • The ominous roar of famous Tunnel Chute is the presage we hear before the river rushes downward 25 feet through a man-made chute and tunnel
  • After a short stretch of flatwater, we'll enjoy a delicious riverside lunch
  • The river changes considerably, meandering over several miles of calm water and allowing us the opportunity to rest while gazing at the beautiful scenery
  • Steep walls covered in pine forests plunge down into the boulder-strewn river in the heart of Auburn State Recreation Area in the American River Canyon
  • Paddle through the flat-water section, and prepare for another long stretch of continuous whitewater action
  • An intense Class IV drop, Chunder, provides thrills and chills before a portage around the roaring 35-foot Ruck-A-Chucky Falls
  • The day winds down with another mile and a half of great whitewater rapids Parallel Parking, Texas Chainsaw Mama and Final Exam
  • Transfer back to our vehicles and return to civilization for the conclusion of our Middle Fork American River rafting trip

20% Discount for Groups of 12 or More!
Call 1.800.446.7238 or 1.209.736.2597

Show Mile By Mile Guide

Rafting the Middle Fork of the American River:
Mile by Mile Guide

Mile 0
Oxbow Bend.  Put-in (start) for O.A.R.S. Middle Fork American Whitewater Rafting trips. The trip begins in the eddy just below the Oxbow Powerhouse.  This uninhabited, pristine wilderness area was once home to two mining camps and more than 10,000 people.
Mile 0.1
ALARM CLOCK (aka GOOD MORNING COFFEE) (III) As its name implies, this rapid is the wake-up call for the day to come.
Mile 1
The North Fork of the Middle Fork enters the river on the right.
Mile 2.5
TUNNEL CHUTE (IV) Crowds of miners came to the Middle Fork American River canyon in search of gold in the late 1800s. They realized that gold probably settled into what was formerly a slow-moving, horseshoe bend in the river.  To divert the flow and access the hidden gold, they blasted a tunnel and dug a chute to guide the water through the tunnel.  This alteration to the river created one of the biggest gold discoveries in the California foothills.  Technically, the rapid should be called Chute Tunnel, as you will descend through a narrow 80-foot long chute which concludes with a big drop into frothy, churning water.  You will then pass through a 90-foot long underground tunnel.  This will certainly be a memorable California whitewater experience!

There are numerous Class III rapids until the Class IV Kanaka Falls rapid.
Mile 3.3
Volcano Canyon, river right.  Josephine Canyon, river left.  There was once a great deal of mining activity in this area.
Mile 5
KANAKA FALLS (IV)  This rapid is also known as CARTWHEEL.  The river rushes to the right over boulders.  The current will sweep the boat toward a rock wall on the right.

A nine-mile stretch of Class I-II rapids provides opportunity for swimming and enjoying the Sierra Foothill scenery.
Mile 5.9
Dardanelles Creek.  A short hike up the creek offers hidden pools and waterfalls.
Mile 8.1
Doodlebug Dredge.  Historical gold-mining landmark.
Mile 10.2
Ford’s Bar, Otter Creek, river left.  There is a side hike one mile up Otter Creek.  There is a swimming hole and plenty of ripe blackberries from mid-July to August.
Mile 13.1
Canyon Creek, river left.
Mile 13.7
Mile 14.3
UPPER RUCK-A-CHUCKY (IV)  Also called CHUNDER.  Originally named by the gold miners in the 1800s, this rapid provides a fun six-foot drop.
Mile 14.5
RUCK-A-CHUCKY (Unrunnable)  O.A.R.S. does not take passengers down this Middle Fork American rapid.  Our guests walk around as guides portage the boats downstream to a safe location.
Mile 14.7
Mile 14.8-16
Numerous Class III rapids.
Mile 16
Greenwood Bridge.  Take out/end of your California whitewater experience. A set of wide stone steps leads up to a parking lot. Beverages and a return shuttle to your vehicle wait at the take-out of your O.A.RS. Middle Fork American rafting trip.

Information for this Mile by Mile guide was gathered from the books "California Whitewater," "A Guide to the Best Whitewater in the State of California" and "The American River, North, South & Middle Forks," as well as from a variety of sources on the Internet.


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“I have traveled with O.A.R.S. for many years and have always been impressed with how well trained the guides are and how safety conscious the whole crew is. They have fun, but they are responsible when they need to be.”
Li Chang ~Sacramento, CA

“Six friends and I went on the Middle Fork American River day trip, our prior experience varied from intermediate to one previous trip on the South Fork American. We all agree that our guides were beyond spectacular! We had a blast.

I found O.A.R.S. online while researching a potential future Grand Canyon trip, and am extremely impressed by the company in comparison to others I have been with, as well as seen on the rivers, not only on the day of the trip, but starting from the informative web site and the pleasant and helpful reservation person who helped me organize the trip.

Your guides are on the front line with your customers and a reflection of your company, these two should definitely be valued as major assets!”
Victoria Winters ~Dublin, CA

Middle Fork American River Rafting - 1 Day Trip Planner

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Average Temperatures
Month Low High
June 57° 85°
July 54° 90°
August 62° 100°
September 60° 85°
Water Temperatures
Seasonal Average: 50° F

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Company Info

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