American River – South Fork

Family fun in the heart of Gold Country!

Offered in Association with our Sister Outfitter

$109 – $124

About the Trip

Here to Help

We’re here to help!

Our friendly office staff are ready to answer any questions and help you book your next adventure!



The South Fork of the American River is a great introduction to the sport of whitewater rafting, and is close to Sacramento. This river is great for families or whitewater veterans alike. A good solid Class III run with over 20 major rapids, its course will take you through the small mining town of Coloma, where James Marshall first discovered gold at Sutters Mill and changed the course of California history. Calm sections are interspersed with wonderfully fun rapids and the excitement comes to a head in the last 3 miles of river known as “The Gorge”.

Minimum age: 9-12 (main season), 7 (late season), dependent on water levels.

2022 Trip Dates

Trips are run daily from April through September


Prices start at $100 for our 1/2 day trips and range up to $299 for our 2 day trips. For more detailed pricing information please contact us.

  • Prices are per person and subject to an 8% Government access/service fee
  • 5% discount for groups of 6-11.
  • Group rates apply for 12 or more, plus 1 free trip with 24 or more


  • Please contact us for a detailed itinerary, depending on your Trip Options (1/2 Day, Full Day, or 2 Day)
Merced River - Late Season

What’s Included

  • Wet suits and/or paddle jackets if needed
  • All river gear including helmets and life jackets
  • Beverages at trips end
  • Parking and round trip bus shuttle to and from river
  • Lunch is not included on our 1/2 day trips

On the River

Full-day trips include a deli-lunch served on the river. Half-day trips do not include lunch. There are numerous food options available nearby in Coloma and Placerville

Wet suits provided free of charge

As a service to our clients, Zephyr provides wet suits and paddle jackets free of charge. Wet suits are recommended on all trips through about mid June, depending on previous winter snowpack. The wet suits are designed for whitewater rafting, and are very comfortable. The suit is a full-length “farmer-john” style, with sleeveless tops. We also provide an optional nylon paddle jacket which can be worn over the suit when necessary. You are welcome to provide your own suit if you wish.

“What do I wear underneath my wet suit?” An important question that comes up often. We recommend wearing a thin nylon swim suit, or other non-bulky swim attire, underneath your wet suit.

On the river

  • Shorts/swim suit
  • Tennis shoes or river sandals (no flip flops please!)
  • Sunglasses with tie-on
  • Camera Note: There is a professional photographer that will be taking photos along the way, and these photos will be available for you to see and purchase if you desire when the trip is over.
  • Light Windbreaker/wool sweater (spring trips only)
  • T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt
  • Hat/Visor with tie-on. Note: On the Tuolumne and Merced rivers, you will be wearing a helmet, and you will need a baseball style hat that can be worn underneath the helmet. and still screen you from the sun.
  • Sunscreen
  • Wet suit if you have one. Ours are provided at no charge, and include a nylon paddle jacket.

Cool weather or high water items

  • Polypro or wool long underwear
  • Wool or pile pants
  • Wool or polypro sweater/jacket
  • Wool hat/Wool gloves

Logistics, Directions & Accomodations

All trips will meet near Coloma, CA (just an hour East of Sacramento!)

Specific meeting time and place will vary depending on your trip options, please contact us for more information or see your trip confirmation e-mail.

Please contact us for detailed Driving directions. Detailed directions will also be e-mailed to you when you book a trip.

We have camping facilities right by the river, with riverside tent cabins available. There are also numerous accommodations available nearby in Coloma and Placerville

Our riverside base camp has all of the amenities, and includes tent sites, with tent cabins available. Our campground is available as an option when you book your trip.


Merced River - Late Season

The South Fork American is a great option for later season trips (August-September) as it has consistent dam-controlled waterflow