The South Fork American River

This river is one of the most popular trips in the country – 50 Class II and III rapids in 21 miles. If you are new or returning to California river rafting, American River rafting is your best choice, with lots of relaxing calm water, fun and challenging class 3 rapids, and incredible wilderness scenery.

South Fork American River Info

  • Section: Chili Bar to Folsom
  • Season: April through Sept.
  • Length: 21 Miles
  • Location: Near Placerville, Ca
  • Difficulty: Class 2-3
  • Ages: 7.5 and Up
  • River Description
  • Shuttle Directions
  • Camping
  • Real-Time River Flows

rafting the south fork american river


River Description

The South Fork of the American begins just below Chili Bar Dam outside of Placerville, Ca. It winds its way down through many rapids and lots of history until ending in Folsom Lake. Often times it is one of the few rivers flowing in the summer. The river is comprised of 3 different sections; The “Chili Bar section”, From Chili bar dam until Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, “C to G”,from the State Park to Greenwood, and “The Gorge”, from Greenwood to Folsom Lake. The middle section is very popular for those learning to raft or kayak and not quite up to class 3 difficulty yet, as well as lots of tubers on a warm summer day. Both Chili Bar and The Gorge contain many fun class 3s.

Shuttle Directions

Chili Bar Put-In: From Placerville, take Highway 49 North for 1 Mile. Turn right onto CA-193 W for 2.3 miles. Turn Left just past the bridge to arrive at the put in.
From Coloma, Take Highway 49 S for 8 miles. Turn Left onto CA-193 W. Turn Left just past the bridge to arrive at the put in.
To get to Greenwood, the midway point for most boaters, from Chili Bar put in, Take CA-193 E for 2 miles. Turn Right onto Highway 49 N for 12 miles. There will be a Greenwood River access sign, where you can turn left into a parking lot.
Take Out: The take out is Skunk Hollow. To get here from Greenwood, turn left onto Highway 49 N for 3.8 miles, then turn left onto Salmon falls Cutoff for 500 ft. Turn left onto Salmon Falls Rd. for 5.7 miles, the take out will be on your left just before the bridge.

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There are several camping facilities in Coloma and the surrounding area. In Coloma: Camp Lotus, Coloma Resort. There are many Hotels in the surrounding towns like Auburn and Placerville, including Holiday Inn, Best Western, and Super 8.

Real-Time River Flows


Other California Whitewater Rafting Rivers

Merced River South Fork American North Fork American Middle Fork American River

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