Lake Tahoe Rafting – 8 Great Rivers within 3 Hours of Tahoe
  • As the Sierras shed their winter blankets, rivers swell and options abound for rafting trips from the Lake Tahoe area. Check out these eight great reasons to get wet this spring and summer.

    North Fork American River | East Fork Carson River | Lower North Yuba River, Maytag | Upper North Yuba River, Moss | Upper Truckee River | Truckee River | Middle Fork American River | South Fork American River

    Spring Flings

    North Fork of the American River, Chamberlain Falls Section

    Originating from Granite Chief Wilderness, the North Fork of the American is the melting pot of Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley ski resorts. This aquamarine, free-flowing river features plenty of fun, Class IV, pool-drop rapids in a beautiful, densely forested canyon. Each week there’s a new wildflower or fragrant tree in bloom, but hurry to catch this gem before the snow melts completely.

    East Fork Carson River, Markleeville to Minden

    The 21-mile stretch of this high-alpine rambling river makes a great two-day family trip. Starting from Hangman’s Bridge just outside of Markleeville, the East Carson’s chocolate waters cut quickly and smoothly through the Toiyabe National Forest and provide excellent views of snowcapped peaks along the way. No doubt the trip highlight is a collection of hot springs about half way through before the river gives way to high desert, giant Cottonwoods and volcanic rock formations.

    Lower North Yuba River, Maytag Section

    The North Yuba and its many sections offer springtime rafters a Mecca of opportunities. Just south of Downieville, the popular Maytag Class V rapids gets the heart pounding and whitewater thrills don’t let up until take-out. An optional Class IV wilderness rafting add-on is available upon request and water levels permitting.

    Upper North Yuba River, Moss Canyon and Rossasco Ravine

    Above Goodyear’s Bar the North Yuba River features a couple of demanding, technical and thrilling sections. Rafters ride through Moss Canyon and the notoriously gnarly Rossasco Ravine before taking out at the put-in to the Maytag section. A variety of trip combinations and discounts are available.

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    Summer Specials

    Upper Truckee River, Tahoe City to River Ranch

    When the mercury rises in the mountains, floaters flock to the Upper Truckee River released from Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City. This lazy section of river meanders slowly along Highway 89. Once known as “the place to booze cruise” Fourth of July floaters might have to wait until taking out at River Ranch before “cracking a cold one.” Alcohol is permitted during non-holiday periods. Raft rental is available in Tahoe City; this section is usually not commercially guided.

    Truckee River, Boca to Floriston

    Catch one of two express trips (morning and afternoon options) departing daily through the summer on this section of the Truckee River which begins northeast of the town of Truckee. Highlights include Jaws and Bronco rapids near the end of the section.

    Middle Fork of the American River

    With just a little bit of driving, Lake Tahoe visitors can access great Class 4 rapids on a remote river canyon deep into the heat of the summer months. Just outside of Auburn in Foresthill, rafters ride the dam-released waters of the Middle Fork of the American through the summer. This long day of rafting features unforgettable drops like the Tunnel Chute, Kanucka, Chunder and Texas Chainsaw.

    South Fork of the American River

    Coloma, on historic Highway 49, is the heart of California Gold Country and also the heart of California rafting country. An upper and lower section on the South Fork of the American River provides rafters with a variety of fun and exhilarating rapids. Hundreds of outfitters run trips from Coloma and offer everything from half-days to overnight trips. Season runs daily through the summer, weekends only starting in September.

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