California’s Best Whitewater, and More…

Fun with friends and family, relaxation in the great outdoors, the thrill of rafting some of California’s best whitewater- these are all great reasons to choose the American River for your whitewater expedition this season. No one offers better guides, gear, fun, excitement and camp amenities than Mother Lode, yet there are important ways in which we provide so much more!

Making rafting more fun is our specialty:

Mother Lode is one of California’s original rafting companies which began as a participatory whitewater school where fun is the key to learning. In a time when the majority of rafts were powered by a guide rowing with oars from a central oar frame and the passengers hung on and watched, Mother Lode chose instead to give each rafter a paddle and power the raft exclusively by working in unison under the direction of the guide. This simple change revolutionized the experience and helped pioneer the ultimate team sport, the most fun, exhilarating and spectacular way to enjoy rafting whitewater rivers, paddle rafting! This continues to be a Mother Lode trademark and no one does it better.

But don’t settle for just enjoying the rapids, you will miss half the fun! Another Mother Lode trademark is interpretation and inspiration. Mother Lode guides love to share their knowledge of the flora, fauna and fascination of California’s most historically significant whitewater rivers with you, while discovering side hikes, playing boat games and finding new ways to make every trip a peak experience.

We take rafting to the next level with Zip Line and Ropes:

Innovating to make your rafting trip more exciting has created another trademark at Mother Lode: adding Zip Line and Ropes to your whitewater rafting. This creates a team building experience that is not only powerful and unique, but also absolutely pegs the fun meter!

Our unique and beautiful river camp:

Mother Lode is more than a rafting company, it is a place. Twenty riverside acres with over ½ mile of riverfront, inviting eddies, Nature Trail, gorgeous heritage oaks for shade and large areas of verdant grass for activities, the River Center is the perfect location for overnight stays, special events and outdoor activities of all kinds. Follow our charming stone pathways and you will discover a hidden secret, an ancient Nisenan camp evidenced by dozens of Native American grinding holes bored into granite bedrock. Clearly this place was chosen for good reason with its spectacular panoramic view of Highway Rapid with sightings of otter, beaver, fox, deer and birds of all kinds.

Yet within a short walk you return to civilization and a unique combination of amenities including 2 sets of modern bathrooms, three commercial kitchens, 20 canvas cabin tents with cots, “Glamping” tent cabins that offer beds and furniture, our camp store and two large Pacific Yurts for meetings/meditation/ group sleeping. There is even a charming rustic cabin with kitchen, which is perfect for small families.

Should you wish to stage a more formal event, consider our unique “Retreat Center Package” that bundles the 2 bedroom 2-bath eco-house with an adjacent private commercial kitchen, a 20-foot Pacific yurt, multiple tent cabins and 2 large tent pavilions. We can accommodate your special event in style! TAKE OUR CAMP TOUR!

Experience and Safety:

Over 40 years, 290,000 happy whitewater rafting participants, and 3 million rivers miles with the best safety record in our industry.

Amazing Guides and State of the Art Training:

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. This combination may be new, yet 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 and became the first company to incorporate it into our Guide School. This has since become the international standard.

State of the Art Gear:

From our signature “Green Fleet” consisting of self-bailing top of the line Hyside rafts, down to the industry’s most sophisticated first aid kits, there is no better-equipped company than Mother Lode.

Happy Participants and Great Reviews:

I did not want to miss the opportunity to compliment you and your staff on your well-run program. We felt safe in your hands. Your guides were knowledgeable and responsible (plus funny and charming!) If anyone ever asks me for an outfitter in your area, I will definitely recommend you. –Mary R.
Read more REVIEWS and see why “awesome”, “fantastic” and “better than we could ever imagine” are used by our participants to describe their experiences at Mother Lode.


The Special Purpose that sets us apart:

Mother Lode is a company with a unique mission: to share our love of California’s rivers with you and to help protect these sacred places for future generations. The measure of our success is that without this effort the North, South and Middle Forks of the American, Tuolumne, Merced, Kings, Kern and 7 other California rivers and creeks would likely have already been destroyed by dams. To date, our participants have written over 29,000 letters and during 2017 alone wrote over 1200. They did this because they learned that the threat to California’s rivers is rising. The North and Middle Forks of the American are no longer secure from the threat of the Auburn Dam. The Bear River has been added to America’s “most endangered” rivers list and the San Joaquin is eminently threatened.  If you love rivers, now is the perfect time to give back!

Not political? Don’t worry, similar to all our programs, Conservation adheres to “challenge by choice” which means it is entirely voluntary and whether you choose to participate or not, we support your right to your own opinion. Should you support the dam, we address, post and mail your letter too.  Visit our Stewardship page to discover more ways we support rivers.

The Bottom Line:

At Mother Lode you enjoy the most fun, the highest quality and the safest whitewater rafting trips you can find anywhere,

and so much more!



                                                                  The Mother Lode Mandela

ECOS Diagram                           

Celebrating rivers by enjoying challenges in nature is what the Mother Lode River Center is all about. We do this with fun, engaging programs that are custom designed to respond to the needs of their participants both as individuals and as groups. The programs are hands-on, educational, river based and can be combined to compliment each other in a variety of ways. There are four basic categories: whitewater rafting, challenge ropes, outdoor education and conservation.  Each program begins with “challenge by choice” and ends with accomplishments of various kinds. The essence of challenge is that it pushes individual and group comfort zones and promotes learning and growth. The importance of choice is that it is vital that participants understand the nature of the physical and mental risks they take, and choose to participate willingly in an atmosphere of support and safety. Our company has the finest safety record in our industry, and safety is always our first priority. Our guides and facilitators are highly skilled, friendly and love what they do. They also love to help you have fun!