For Right-Brained People

The best thing about the South Fork of the American River is that you can share it with everyone. We’ve taken fearless seven-year olds and their fretful grandparents and we’ve taken world adventurers and their neighbors who’ve never slept outdoors. We’ve taken company groups, scout groups, church groups, and single people who live alone in studio apartments in the big city. We’ve been joined by people celebrating birthdays, weddings, graduations, family reunions and just life in general. Some folks were at the upper end of their thrill threshold, others were at the lower end, but they all kept talking about Troublemaker or Hospital Bar (or both if they were on a 2 day trip). Everyone was in a paddle raft, (with a guide), participating and holding success in their own hands; unnerving at first, but unforgettable in the end. One-day trips are quick, recreational events; two-day trips are a bit deeper. The upgrades (to a one-day Full Twenty river or a two-day Wilderness Camp) are worth it.

We offer half-day, one-day, and two-day whitewater rafting trips on the South Fork of the American River with lots of options and alternatives. All trips meet at Camp Lotus, a beautiful campground right on the river in the rolling California foothills between Auburn and Placerville. The meeting place is about 1 hour east of Sacramento, 2 1/2 hours east of San Francisco and 1 1/2 hours west of South Lake Tahoe. We provide all of the rafting gear, food, and local transportation as well as friendly, fun, and informative guides (at least one in every raft!). You provide sunscreen and enthusiasm (and some camping gear on overnight trips). No previous experience is required; groups of 4 to 7 join together in a 14-foot raft with a guide and actively paddle the raft through the rapids and down the river.

If none of the options below is exactly what you are looking for, give us a call and we’ll put together the perfect trip for you.

1/2 Day Trips on the South Fork of the American

Length: 10 miles
Time: 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Difficulty:
Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Meatgrinder and Troublemaker
Adults: $79 to $109 (depending on day of week)
Youths (7 – 17): $79 (every day)
Groups (10 or more): $69 to $99

Trips are scheduled on demand

Call to make a reservation – 209/962-7873

1/2 Day Upper Trip Details

Our half-day trips on the South Fork of the American are quick dashes down the exciting Upper (Chili Bar) stretch of the river. In one morning, we will raft 10 miles of river and tackle over 20 rapids from small riffles to big drops. We move right along, allowing us to get off the river early, and still have time to do something else in the afternoon. If you’ve got a tight schedule, this is a great way to include some fun whitewater rafting that everyone can enjoy.

Early in the morning, we’ll meet you at beautiful Camp Lotus and take you to the actual launch site just below Chili Bar Dam. Here, you will meet your guides, get your gear, and receive a thorough safety briefing before getting in the rafts for some on-river paddling practice. The river starts off with a bang and within a few minutes we will be paddling through Meatgrinder, the South Fork’s longest rapid. All morning, the rapids are consistent and exciting. We’ll run a half dozen Class III and III+ rapids with classic names such as Racehorse Bend, Triple Threat, and Troublemaker as well as lots of smaller rapids. It is a full morning.

We end up back at Camp Lotus (usually just after noon), where you can shower, change, and grab something to eat before heading off to your next adventure.

These half-day trips are perfect for those who don’t have time for the full-day or two-day trips. The whitewater is great for first-time rafters but still lots of fun for seasoned veterans.

Download a PDF of our Half-Day Trip details

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our One Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~20
Gradient: 23 feet/mile Signature Rapids: Meatgrinder and Troublemaker
Types of boats: Paddle rafts
Minimum recommended age: 12 before May 31; 9 in June; 7 after July 1

1 Day Upper or Lower Trips on the South Fork of the American

Length: 10 miles
Time: 10:00 am to ~ 4:00 or 5:00 pm
Difficulty:
Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Troublemaker OR Hospital Bar
Includes: Hearty and healthy picnic lunch
Adults: $127 to $147
Youths (7 – 17): $99 (every day)
Groups (10 or more): $99 to $129

1 Day Upper or Lower Trip Details

Our one day trips on the South Fork of the American River are exciting journeys through the rolling foothills of California’s Mother Lode country. We will cover 10 miles of river and tackle over 20 rapids, from small riffles to big drops and take a break along the way for a wonderful, riverside picnic lunch. This is a really fun, gently-paced adventure for everyone.

We’ll meet you in the morning right on the river at beautiful Camp Lotus (look for us down by the river). Depending on that day’s flow and release schedule, your preference, and other conditions, we will either take a short bus ride in the morning, raft the Upper Stretch (Meatgrinder and Troublemaker), and finish up back at Camp Lotus or we will launch right at Camp Lotus, raft the Lower Stretch (Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar), and take a short bus ride back to Camp Lotus at the end of the day.

Both stretches are 10 miles long and have about the same number and difficulty of rapids; the rapids on the Upper Stretch are spread out pretty evenly throughout the day whereas the Lower Stretch starts out more gently and then the bigger rapids are concentrated in the afternoon. If we do the Upper, you will be back to Camp Lotus around 3:00; if we do the Lower you will be back to Camp Lotus around 5:00. If you have a preference, let us know.

At the end of the day, you’ll end up back at Camp Lotus where you can shower, change, and grab something to eat.

Our one-day South Fork American River trips are great for first-time rafters yet still lots of fun for seasoned veterans.

Download a PDF of our One Day Upper or Lower Trip Details

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our One Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~20
Gradient: 23 feet/mile
Signature Rapids: Troublemaker or Hospital Bar
Types of boats: Paddle rafts
Minimum recommended age: 12 before May 31; 9 in June; 7 after July 1

 1 Day ‘Full Twenty’ Trips on the South Fork of the American

Length: 20 miles
Time: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Difficulty:
Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Troublemaker AND Hospital Bar
Includes: Hearty and healthy picnic lunch
Adults: $157 to $177
Youths (7 – 17): $119 (every day)
Groups (10 or more): $129 to $159

1 Day Full Twenty Trip Details

Our one day “Full Twenty” trips on the South Fork of the American River combine both popular day stretches of the river, covering 20 miles and tackling over 40 rapids, from small riffles to big drops. This is a great choice for energetic people who want a long, full day on the river.

Early in the morning, we’ll meet you at beautiful Camp Lotus and take you to the actual launch site just below Chili Bar Dam where you will meet your guides, get your gear, and receive a thorough safety briefing before getting in the rafts for some on-river paddling practice. The river starts off with a bang and within a few minutes we will be paddling through Meatgrinder, the South Fork’s longest rapid. The rapids before lunch are consistent and include Racehorse Bend, Triple Threat, Troublemaker and lots of smaller ones. Around lunch time we will have gone 10 miles and be back at Camp Lotus where we’ll stop for a hearty picnic lunch. The afternoon rapids start off gently before we pass The Lollipop Tree and enter the famous American River Gorge where fun rapids with classic names like Satan’s Cesspool, Lost Lunch, and Surprise provide plenty of thrills.

At the end of the day, we’ll take you back to Camp Lotus; arrival time should be around 5:00.

Download PDF of one-day full twenty trip details 

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our One Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~40
Gradient: 23 feet/mile
Signature Rapids: Troublemaker and Hospital Bar
Types of boats: Paddle rafts
Minimum recommended age: 12 (it is a long day on the river)

 1 Day ‘Streamline/Cooperative’ Trips

Length: 10 miles
Time: 10:00 am to ~ 4:00 or 5:00 pm
Difficulty: Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar
Meals: Bring your own lunch
Pricing: Groups of 8 or more
$60 to $92 per person

Trips are scheduled on demand

Call to make a reservation – 209/962-7873

1 Day Streamline Cooperative Trips Details

Our one day Streamline Cooperative Trips on the South Fork of the American River are designed for groups who are willing to do a little extra work (provide lunch) in order to save some money (about 40%). These are great trips for scout and other groups who want a fun, more affordable day on the river.

We’ll meet you in the morning right on the river at beautiful Camp Lotus (look for us down by the river). Depending on that day’s flow and release schedule, your preference, and other conditions, we will either take a short bus ride in the morning, raft the Upper Stretch (Meatgrinder and Troublemaker), and finish up back at Camp Lotus or we will launch right at Camp Lotus, raft the Lower Stretch (Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar), and take a short bus ride back to Camp Lotus at the end of the day.

Both stretches are 10 miles long and have about the same number and difficulty of rapids; the rapids on the Upper Stretch are spread out pretty evenly throughout the day whereas the Lower Stretch starts out more gently and then the bigger rapids are concentrated in the afternoon. If we do the Upper, you will be back to Camp Lotus around 3:00; if we do the Lower you will be back to Camp Lotus around 5:00. If you have a preference, let us know.

Regardless of which stretch we do, at some point we’ll pull over at a peaceful spot, stretch our legs, and enjoy a riverside picnic lunch (which you provide, along with lunch for our guides, one of us for each six of you). At the end of the day, you’ll be back to Camp Lotus where you can shower, change, and grab something to eat.

If you want a 2 day Streamline Cooperative trip, reserve back-to-back 1 days trips and we will run a different stretch each day.

Download a PDF of our One Day Streamline-Cooperative Trip details 

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our One Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~20

Gradient: 23 feet/mile

Signature Rapids: Troublemaker and Satan’s Cesspool

Types of boats: Paddle rafts

Minimum recommended age: 12 before May 31; 9 in June; 7 after July 1

 2 Day Wilderness Camp Trips

Length: 20 miles
Time: 10:00 am (day 1) to 5:00 pm (day 2)
Difficulty: Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar (day 1), Meatgrinder and Troublemaker (day 2).
Includes: 4 delicious meals, camping at a raft-only accessible wilderness beach along the river.
Adults: $269 to $309
Youths:(7 – 17): $199 to $269
Groups (10 or more): $229 to $289

2 Day Wilderness Camp Trips Details

Our Wilderness Trips camp right along the river at a secluded beach that is only accessible by raft; there is no vehicle access and we are usually the only people there. There is a great big beach, a gentle, serene stretch of river, and a cool, two-story, composting toilet; it is a really nice place to spend the night. These trips are great for people who want to get away from civilization but don’t have time for a longer trip out of the state.

The trips begin and end at Camp Lotus. We’ll meet you there in the morning, pack your camping gear into our waterproof bags, and then take a short van or bus ride upstream to the actual launching site at Chili Bar. We’ll raft about 12 miles on day one, stopping for lunch along the way, before arriving at the wilderness site in the early evening. We’ll camp here, usually completely alone – quite a change from the sometimes busyness of the river – and enjoy an evening and dinner along the river (prepared by our guides) before spending the night on the beach. In the morning, we’ll get up, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, pack up the rafts and head downstream for another 9 miles of fun rapids and another riverside picnic lunch. The river trip will end at Salmon Falls (Folsom Reservoir) and we’ll transport you back to your cars at Camp Lotus by around 5:00 on the second day.

Download a PDF of our Two Day Wilderness Camp Trip details

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our Two Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~20

Gradient: 23 feet/mile

Signature Rapids: Troublemaker and Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar

Types of boats: Paddle rafts

Minimum recommended age: 12 before May 31; 9 in June; 7 after July 1

2 Day Camp Lotus Trips

Length: 20 miles
Time: 10:00 am (day 1) to 3:30 pm (day 2)
Difficulty: Class II – III+ (beginner)
Highlights: Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar (day 1), Meatgrinder and Troublemaker (day 2).
Includes: 4 delicious meals, camping at Camp Lotus (grass, showers, flush toilets, vehicle access)
Adults: $269 to $309
Youths (7 – 17): $199 to $269
Groups (10 or more): $229 to $289

2 Day Camp Lotus Trips Details

Two-day Camp Lotus trips camp right along the river, but your vehicles, hot showers, and flush toilets are just a short walk away. Camp Lotus is a beautiful, private campground with lots of trees and shade located along the South Fork of the American. These trips are great for people who want two days of rafting but still want the conveniences of flush toilets and electricity.

We’ll meet you right at the launch site (Camp Lotus) where you will meet your guides, get your gear, and receive a thorough safety and orientation briefing before getting in the rafts. We will run the lower stretch of the river on the first day. This stretch starts off gently, and we’ll warm up with some easy Class II rapids and cool off in some peaceful calm stretches. The “big rapids” come after lunch when we enter the famous “American River Gorge”. Fun rapids with classic names like Satan’s Cesspool, Lost Lunch, and Hospital Bar provide plenty of thrills. At the end of the day, we’ll bring you back to Camp Lotus where you can shower, change, and relax while we make you a delicious dinner. On the second day, we’ll take a short van or bus ride to the launch site for the “Upper Stretch” of the South Fork. After a full morning of fun rapids like Meatgrinder and Troublemaker, we’ll stop for lunch and then enjoy a leisurely float back to Camp Lotus for a mid-afternoon arrival.

Download a PDF of our Two Day Camp Lotus Trip details

View our Equipment List and Packing Guide for our Two Day South Fork trips

Rapids/day: ~20

Gradient: 23 feet/mile

Signature Rapids: Satan’s Cesspool and Hospital Bar and Troublemaker 

Types of boats: Paddle rafts

Minimum recommended age: 12 before May 31; 9 in June; 7 after July 1

All I’ve thought about all morning here in my office is yesterday’s trip. My son really, really enjoyed it, as did I. Too many things to list. Probably the best was seeing how happy my son and all his buddies were for the whole day in their raft and in the water together.

Jim Quilici