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HomeRafting - North Fork American River

North Fork of the American River

Raft on Middle American River

River Map

The North Fork is a fantastic whitewater adventure, especially for those looking for something more wild than mild. The river is unblocked by any dams above and we hope to keep it that way. This means the river only runs in the winter or spring during snowmelt or runoff. The river is broken into four main rafting sections.
Generation Gap - This is a 12 mile Class V stretch above Giant Gap that is pretty much for experts only, and involves quite a bit of planning. It involves a three mile hike in and usually at least one night camping, unless you want to hike out up two miles from the Euchre Bar. It does involve some fantastic rapids, most notably, Dream Gap. With camping, you can run the entire forty mile stretch to Ponderosa Way bridge for quite a trip. If you do it midweek, you may see noone the entire length of the trip besides an occasional miner. Here is a story so you know what it takes.

Giant Gap - This is a beautiful run with three Class V rapids (Nutcracker, Locomotive, and Dominator) and many Class IV's. The run is 14.5 miles and the car shuttle is only thirty minutes. What's the catch, you say. The catch is the two mile hike to the put in at Euchre Bar.
From I-80 get off at Alta exit and follow the signs towards Casa Loma. Turn right at sign for Eucre Bar Trailhead. After about 2 miles the road will fork. Take the left fork to the trail head parking. It's est to get an early start due to the hike in (you want it to be cool) and the length of the run.

Chamberlain Falls & Big Bend - Chamberlain Falls provides many class IV rapids and is generally gets more use than any of the runs on the North Fork. It is also run by more commercial outfitters than Giant Gap. The run from the Iowa Hill Bridge to the Ponderosa Way Bridge is about five hours, including lunch and scouting. The Chamberlain Falls run ends and the Big Bend run starts at the Yankee Jims Road bridge near Shirttail Creek at mile 5. But that involves a lot of work getting the boat up to the road compared the the takeout at the nice beach at the end of Big Bend. At good flows, there are some decent class III's on the run anyway and it's pretty quick. The bridge at the bottom is big fun too.

If you're looking for a commercial rafting trip on the North Fork American, I suggest Whitewater Excitement for an experience you won't forget. This is not the trip for a first time rafter unless you are an excellent swimmer and in good physical condition. Age restrictions will also apply.


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