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American River Whitewater Rafting

The American River is the premier whitewater rafting river in California and one of the most popular recreational rivers in the United States. Located in the heart of the Sierra Foothills smack in the middle of Gold Rush Country, the tiny towns of Coloma and Lotus are the epicenter of California Rafting.

For decades, the American River has been a very popular destination for white water rafting enthusiasts in California due to its close proximity to several major California and Nevada population centers such as the Bay Area, Modesto, Sacramento, the Lake Tahoe area, and Reno. We also get hundreds of clients each year that make the easy drive to Coloma from Southern California such as Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas for a few days of whitewater rafting fun. The American River has three Forks that offer a varied level of difficulty, adventure, and excitement making the American River a rare gem amongst recreation destinations.

We start our Spring rafting season in April on the free-flowing snow-melt fed Class 4/5 North Fork of the American. Depending on the winter snowpack and speed of the snowmelt the season on the North Fork can last anywhere from two weeks to two months! Rafting with us on any one of our guided trips is an exciting vacation option. Come and raft the Class 4/5 North Fork of the American with us in April and May this year while we still have excellent water flows.

The dam controlled flows on the South and Middle Forks of the American River offer consistent water levels for thrilling rafting experiences all season long. We start up on the Class 3/4 Middle Fork in early May once the high water due to snow and rain have settled the flows a bit. The Middle Fork is a true wilderness experience covering 18 miles for a full day of whitewater rafting. This is a great trip for first timers and experienced rafters alike. We start rafting on the South Fork of the American towards the end of March. Even though the water flows on the South Fork are dam controlled during the summer, we get a variation of flows in April and sometimes into May. We can safely raft the South Fork at the highest spring flows and the normal summer fun flows on our dam controlled rivers. Usually we raft the South Fork well into September and on weekends in October.

American Whitewater Expeditions offers American River rafting trips to suit all needs from a fun family float all the way to adrenalin pumping action for the seasoned rafter. We specialize in offering affordable rafting trips that are built around fun, quality and value for every budget. So, if an adventure vacation is what you are looking for then a whitewater rafting trip on any of the Forks of the American River is a perfect match for you. Come enjoy fun times California rafting.


Our base of operations and campground is centrally located and a short drive from many major cities in Northern California. We are approximately 1 hour from Sacramento, 2 1/2 hours from the Bay Area or Reno and 1 1/2 hours from South Lake Tahoe. Once at our deluxe campground relax and unwind and get ready to have some fun, paddle rafting thrills. We take care of all your river logistics including transportation during your trip.


The 3 Forks of the American River offer up some great whitewater rafting no matter what your experience or skill level to reach your thrill threshold! The South Fork of the American River is a Class III rated river perfect for families and first time rafters, while the Middle Fork of the American boasts 18 miles of gorgeous scenery mixed with Class II to Class IV rapids. The North Fork of the American River is a wild and scenic river fed by spring runoff only and its Class V rapids are sure to get any adventurer’s attention!!!

Gold Rush Country

The Coloma Valley is filled with activities to keep young and old entertained and engaged. We are 5 minutes walking distance of Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, the location where gold was first discovered in California in 1848. Take a walking tour, hike or mountain bike through California’s rich and colorful history! Or explore the South Fork American River Trail which boasts 25 miles of hiking, biking or equestrian horseback riding from Coloma to Folsom Lake. Or you can simply sit riverside at the famous “Troublemaker Rapid” and watch rafts navigate the waters, play volleyball, take a swim in the pool or let the kids fish in the pond located within our campground area.

Wine & Whitewater

California’s Gold Rush began in El Dorado County 1848 with James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on the South Fork of the American River in Coloma. As people flocked to California to claim their fortunes, the region’s winemaking industry was born.

Wine and Whitewater go hand in hand for Coloma and its surrounding areas. Our Wine & Whitewater Trip combines the very best of these experiences. So come join us on this unique trip through our vineyards and down our pristine river canyons.

Our Campground

Camping has never been so luxurious. Each campsite is close to your vehicle and has a fire-pit, picnic table and split rail fencing. Sit by the river in the shade, take a swim in the pool or try your hand at fishing in the stocked pond. Our private campground boasts cool grassy areas, free hot showers, clean restrooms, plus a well stocked AWE River Store for any last minute items you may need as well as souvenir T-shirts. We offer 4 person dome tents and 8 person cabin tent rentals that are set up for you with foam pads. Cots, chairs and sleeping bags are available for rent too!

Photo Finish

Want bragging rights? Our photographers offer a unique photo experience of your American River rafting trip from start to finish. They document your adventure from the safety talk, special group shots, lunch, the wet and wild rapids, and even at take-out! Sit back and be the star of the show as they put you up on the big screen at the end of the day with a slideshow sure to keep everyone talking! Pre-orders available at the time of booking or purchase and receive your photos that day. If you are in a hurry, we can also email them to you.

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