Preparing and Pointers for Success
The American River, located just 1 hour east of Sacramento, and less than 2 hours from the Lake Tahoe area, in the Sierra Foothills, is one of the most popular whitewater river systems in the country. The American River consists of 3 totally different forks with something for everyone.
The South Fork of the American River, located in the Coloma/Lotus valley, is the most popular of the 3 due to its class 2 and 3 rapids that everyone from 7-77 can handle. It even has a class 1 and 2 section that 4 and 5 year olds can enjoy. The Middle Fork of the American, which is situated east of the town of Auburn is a super scenic and wild class 3 and 4 summertime rafting run. Hold onto your hat (or helmet, helmets are worn on all rafting trips) as you cascade through one of the wildest rapids anywhere, the Tunnel Chute. Both the South Fork and the Middle Fork are hydroelectrically dam controlled which means they can be rafted all summer long due to upstream lakes and reservoirs. The North Fork, the wildest of the 3 forks, and recommended for experience rafters, is a spring time class 4 and 4+ run that carves through a super tight gorge and drops over steep technical drops.
Coming up to the American River for a whitewater rafting adventure can be a life changing event. Making sure you are well prepared will make this adventure even more….
Rafting on the American river can vary from really hot in the summertime to cool in the spring.
One thing that you depend on during a American river rafting trip is good eats! All trips except half day trips include at the very least lunch. The overnight trips include 1 or 2 breakfasts and dinner also (along with lunch each day). Due to the hot weather in summertime months, we recommend staying hydrated on the raft by drinking lots of water. Hold onto your bladder because were talking a gallon per person per day. To help you drink your body’s fair share of water, you should make sure you have a good water bottle’. To help with the environment, we recommend bringing a sturdy reusable bottle, but if you can’t and have to buy bottled water, please remember to re-cycle.
Clothes for a rafting trip can vary depending on the time of year you come and the trip you choose. For most summertime trips making sure you have good foot protection is very important. Now a days most sandal manufacturers have strap up sandals that are good for both the river and on shore. Flip flops and bare feet are never a good idea for the river as they will fall off if you have an “OBE” experience . . . either on your own or if it’s the river’s idea (an OBE is what we call an “Out of Boat Experience”). Also, for some rafting trips there is a need for walking on the shore (especially when your very hungry and wanting to get into the lunch line first) and having a good solid pair of sandals or even old tennis shoes really helps.
In the summer months, the American River area can get very hot and the sun can be intense, even on the river. Everyone knows that the sun does two things well; it lights up the day and it “burns” the skin. It is very important to have sunscreen on hand, and use it everywhere, except the bottom of your thighs, as you might slip off the raft! You can also invest in a lightweight SPF-protected long sleeve shirt. A lot of cool river guides will have these on, mostly for good looks. The sun also wreeks havoc with the eyes. Sunglasses are recommended for those who want to protect their eyes and avoid the wrinkling effect of squinting from the brightness of the sun. Make sure that you bring proper UV-protected sunglasses as the dark lens sunglasses without UV just don’t do the job.
Lets talk about cameras. Now with the invention of the GoPro camera, all life’s adventurous moments can be captured for the big screen (or your small smart phone) and sent to grandmothers worldwide. GoPro cameras have also excited scuba divers in the river, as many are lost into the river by not having a retaining strap or floaty on them . Protect your investment and make sure it is attached to you, that way you will preserve the magic moments forever. Expensive DSLR cameras are not recommended on the river due to the fact that they are not waterproof – really? You can bring or buy at the river, disposable waterproof cameras that tied onto your life jacket. These are great to have for in boat memories and selfies! For the super duper actions shots in the rapids — leave it to the pros at Hot Shot Imaging. They will take 100s of photos of you and your crew in the heart of the rapids and have them ready for you after your trip. They are located only 1.5 miles from the river camps, and they will even offer a discount coupon if you smile in the rapids.