“I can’t begin to say what a great time my wife and I had this past week with you guys. I can’t think of anything negative about our trip. Well unless you count me losing a shoe to the river. Eva, Courtney, and Lydia were amazing guides. All were very knowledgeable and fun to be around. I would definitely recommend you guys to anyone who asks. Being a first time rafter I have to admit I was a little anxious. We never felt in danger while in your guides hands. The campground and the food were also very good. I can’t wait till my next trip with the Mother Lode. Thanks again.” – Daniel and Tina
The American River is one of California’s great vacation spots, with safe yet exciting family whitewater rafting trips for nearly all ages. In addition to their river skills, all your guides are professional outdoor educators with extensive safety training and a wealth of knowledge about the natural world and local history, adding a unique element of quality to your family vacation.
Family Whitewater Rafting Adventures
Chili Bar: Class III
Minimum age: 8
The whitewater action on this scenic stretch of the South Fork of the American River starts with the famous “Meatgrinder” rapid. Continuing down the canyon you’ll go through one great rapid after another–”Racehorse Bend,” “African Queen,” “Triple Threat” building up to “Troublemaker.” After a hearty lunch prepared by your guides, the river mellows to a relaxing float through the historic Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and the trip ends back at our camp in Coloma.
Gorge: Class III
Minimum age: 8
If getting up early isn’t your idea of a relaxing vacation, the Gorge’s 11:00 AM meet time is perfect for you! The Gorge trip begins at our camp in Coloma on the South Fork of the American River with a series of Class I and II warm-up rapids. We stop for lunch by the river before the canyon narrows and the river sweeps us downstream in a series of near-continuous Class III rapids. You will hear the shrieks of excitement and high fives before you arrive at rapids like “Satan’s Cesspool,” “Bouncing Rock,” and “Hospital Bar.” We end up at the Folsom Lake Reservoir and Mother Lode provides a shuttle back to camp.
Fun Family Float: Class II
Minimum age: 8
Only have a few hours? Are you more interested in sightseeing than whitewater? This 4-mile stretch of calmer, Class I-II riffles on the South Fork of the American is the perfect family outdoor adventure for little ones, and for families who just want to chill out on the river and relax.
South Fork 2-Day:
Combine the Chili Bar and Gorge runs, or one of those two with the Family Float, and you have a legendary 2-day, family vacation that will give everyone the chance to truly unwind. The South Fork American 2-Day Trip is truly an unforgettable experience for your family.
South/Middle Fork 2-Day:
If your children over 14 years of age, you may be ready to ramp up the level of excitement for your family vacation! Sign up for a South Fork/Middle Fork 2-Day, warming up on the Class III South Fork the first day, camp overnight, then graduate to the heart-pounding Class IV Middle Fork the following day. See for yourself why the Middle Fork of the American has been determined eligible for National Wild and Scenic Status, an honor less than 2% of rivers nationwide can claim.
“Thank you Mother Lode! We had a great time and your customer service was fantastic. Thank you for taking care of my crew of 4. It was my cousins and girlfriends first time white water rafting and they had such a good time.Thank you again for taking care of us. We will definitely be coming back to raft with you guys. Mother Lode gets nothing but high marks from us and we will spread the word to let them know how awesome you guys are!! Willie and Scott were terrific guides and please tell them we appreciated their customer service as well. They are good dudes.” – Lisa Griffith
River Classification System
- Class I:
- Moving water with small waves and no obstacles.
- Class II:
- Moderately moving water with gentle waves. Obstacles such as rocks and changes in river gradient are easy to maneuver through and around.
- Class III:
- Moderate whitewater; exciting but not difficult. Waves are numerous; obstacles require precise maneuvering around.
- Class IV:
- High volume whitewater that requires technical maneuvering; swimming ability, and some rafting experience required.
Mother Lode River Center — A Perfect Balance of Fun and Retreat for your Outdoor Family Vacation