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HomeRafting - Carson River (East Fork)

East Fork of the Carson River

Raft on Middle American River

The Carson River splits above Minden/Gardnerville into two forks, the east and the west. The west fork drains the east slope of the Sierra near Carson Pass while the east fork drains the east slope surrounding Ebbets Pass. The West Fork is not a good rafting river since it stays very flat through the Faith and Hope Valleys and then drops sharply off until it meets the East Fork. Occasionally, kayakers will run it but very rarely. The Upper East Fork is where the fun is though. At standard flows the river is a Level II but sometimes upgraded to III based on the fact that there are no breaks for the 6.5 mile run. This is not a pool-drop river like most of those on the west slope of the Sierra. The upper section has a consistent gradient of about 40 feet per mile which is generally enough to keep things interesting. The only real named rapid is Snaggletooth. Typical runnable flows on this portion run from about 1,100-3,000 cfs (lower for Kayaks, higher for crazy folk). This is a free flowing river so as soon as the snow melts, the season is over. That means April through early June is your best bet although this year (2005) it's still going strong in mid July.
Below Hangman's Bridge the river settles down a bit (gradient of 25 feet/mile) but does provide a nice float to the Ruhenstroth Dam. The one draw this section holds for experienced rafters is the opportunity to camp overnight at the hot springs right on the river. The rapids are mostly all I and II and this part of the river is able to be run easily up to 4,000 cfs. While the upper section can easily be done in half a day including driving time from Tahoe this lower section is both longer (20.4 miles) and slower requiring at least a full day. 


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