American River Rafting

A guide to California Whitewater Rafting

South Fork American River Rafting Shuttle Info & River Access

With twenty-one miles of whitewater rafting, the South Fork American River can be run from top to bottom in one day, although during normal releases usually associated with summer, this can be a rather long day. Most rafters choose to tackle either the "Upper" (Chili Bar to Lotus) or "Lower Gorge" (Lotus to Folsom Lake). Each section is roughly ten miles in length.

"Upper" Chili Bar Put-in:

"To get to Chili Bar from California Highway 50 in downtown Placerville, turn north onto highway 49 (toward Coloma). At the outskirts of Placerville, Highway 193 intersects Highway 49 near a Salvadorian restaurant. Turn right onto Highway 193 and you'll find yourself winding three miles down into a huge canyon. At the bottom, cross the bridge then turn left into the Chili Bar trailer park and put-in."

Chili Bar to Lotus Shuttle:

" From put-in at Chili Bar, take 193 south to the outskirts of Placerville and (carefully) make a a sharp right turn onto highway 49. Drive 8 miles to Marshall Gold Discovery Park at Coloma. Continue to Lotus Road, turn Left and about 3/4 of a mile down is Henningson-Lotus Park, you can put-in here (day use fees apply). To Camp Lotus, continue another 1/4 mile to Bassi Rd., turn right and drive 1 mile to Camp Lotus on the right. (Camping is available here, reservations are recommended.)"

"Lower" Salmon Falls Bridge Take-out:

"From Coloma, go north on Highway 49 about eight miles. At the top of a grade, just before the town of Pilot Hill, turn left on Salmon Falls Road and left again. You're still on Salmon falls Road, which winds about seven miles down to the bridge. Take-out area is a big parking lot (Skunk Hollow) on the left, before the bridge."

Excerpted from The American River: A Recreational Guidebook

Map by Travel