45 years of experience

Since our founding in 1974, we’ve safely guided over 290,000 guests down 3 million river miles. Attracted by our special purpose, our guides are friendly, fun and great communicators who receive extensive training not only as river guides, but also as ropes course facilitators and outdoor educators.

We pride ourselves on having one of the best safety records in our industry and our guide training has always set new standards. For instance, we helped Rescue 3’s founder, Jim Segerstrom, adapt their Swiftwater Rescue Training, originally intended for first responders, for river guides. We then became the first company to incorporate Swiftwater Rescue Training into our Guide School. This has since become the international standard for excellence.

Find Your Adventure

Whether you are looking for a weekend adventure or corporate team building, there’s something for everyone at Mother Lode River Center.

California’s Best Whitewater Rafting

Running through the heart of Gold Country, the American River is the most popular destination for whitewater rafting in California. As one of California’s original rafting companies, no one offers better guides, gear and whitewater excitement than Mother Lode River Center.

Our guides go above and beyond during your trip down the river, sharing local history, river lore, side hikes, hidden waterfalls, secret adventure swims, and other features unknown to all but a few. We strive to make every river trip a peak experience.

One-of-a-Kind Zipline & Rafting Experience

Mother Lode River Center offers the only zipline and rafting experience in California. Whether you add zipline and ropes course to your rafting trip or do them on their own, we offer engaging programs that are custom designed to respond to the needs of participants, both as individuals and as a group.

Find Your Escape

Mother Lode River Center is more than a rafting company, it is a scenic twenty-acre river oasis meant to help you relax and unplug. Take the camp tour here! The perfect location for overnight stays, Mother Lode visitors can enjoy unrivaled beauty and amenities, including:

  • Panoramic river views along half a mile of riverfront property
    15 campsites, 18 tent cabins, six fire pits, horseshoes and two volleyball courts
  • An ancient Native American camp, where dozens of grinding holes are bored into granite bedrock overlooking the river
  • Two sets of full-service bathrooms with showers and changing rooms
  • Canvas cabin tents and our “glamping” cabins that offer beds and furniture
  • A camp store, with swag and river necessities
  • A large Pacific Yurt that serves as the perfect meeting, sleeping and performance space
  • A rustic two bedroom cabin with kitchen and private bathroom, perfect for small families
  • A Retreat Center that features a two bedroom two-bath house with adjacent “honeymoon” yurt, a commercial kitchen with dining area and large stone BBQ, separate bath house, and platform tent cabins located near their own private beach with a stone fire ring

Ancient Grinding Stones Overlook the South Fork of the American River

Protecting Our Rivers

At Mother Lode, our mission is to share our love of California’s rivers with you and to help protect these sacred places for future generations. During our five decades, over 29,000 guests have volunteered to write letters in defense of 15 California rivers including the North, South and Middle Forks of the American, Tuolumne, Merced, Kings, Kern Rivers, Cache Creek and most recently the addition of the Mokelumne River to the State Wild and Scenic River system.

Together, our work has helped keep many California rivers running so we can continue to enjoy them today. Visit our Stewardship page to discover more ways we support rivers and how you can help!

Chosen as “River Heroes” by Friends of the River, Marc Dubois, Scott, Emily and Adrienne Underwood celebrate!