California’s Best Whitewater, and More…

Adventure and connection 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, excitement and camp amenities than Mother Lode, yet there are important ways in which we provide so much more!

Paddle-Rafting Whitewater: the ultimate team sport…

Mother Lode is one of California’s original rafting companies and a leader in finding new ways to make whitewater adventures more exciting and fun! One key is active participation, and from its beginning Mother Lode has been a pioneer of paddle rafting, the art of guiding the raft through rapids powered by the crew paddling as a team. This is the most fun, exhilarating and spectacular way to enjoy rafting whitewater rivers and is considered the ultimate team sport. It is also a Mother Lode trademark that you will not want to miss!

But could there be even more fun? Absolutely, and another Mother Lode trademark is the inspiration gained through interpretation. Our guides love to share their knowledge of the flora, fauna and fascination of California’s most historically significant whitewater rivers with you. They also enjoy sharing side hikes, hidden waterfalls, secret adventure swims, and other features unknown to all but a few. We strive to make every trip a peak experience.

Taking rafting to the next level with Zip Line and Ropes:

Mother Lode continues its tradition of innovation this season by making your rafting trip even more exciting by adding Zip Line and Ropes. 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 connected by our Nature Trail, large areas of verdant grass shaded by gorgeous heritage oaks, 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 the granite bedrock overlooking the river. “Cullumah” means “beautiful valley” in Nisenan and with its spectacular panoramic view of the river, sightings of otter, beaver, fox, deer and birds of all kinds, clearly this is one of the places they had in mind!

Ancient Grinding Stones Overlook the South Fork of the American River

Yet within a short walk you leave this wild place and return to a unique combination of amenities. These include 2 sets of modern bathrooms, three commercial kitchens, canvas cabin tents, our “Glamping” cabins that offer beds and furniture, a camp store and a large Pacific Yurt that serves as the perfect meeting, sleeping and performance space. There is even a rustic two bedroom cabin with kitchen and private bathroom which is perfect for small families.

Should you plan a special event, consider The Retreat Center portion of the camp. This features our two bedroom two-bath eco-house with its 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 graced by a stone fire ring.


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. This record speaks for itself and every program reflects our dedication to personal and group safety.

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 and unique, 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. We then became the first company to incorporate it into our Guide School. This has since become the international standard for excellence.

State of the art gear:

Mother Lode has multiple sizes and designs of state of the art self-bailing rafts to adapt to all river conditions and crew sizes. From our signature “Green Fleet” consisting of top 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.


An extra bonus: Our rivers live on!

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. During our 5 decades our participants have written over 29,000 letters in defense of 14 California rivers including the North, South and Middle Forks of the American, Tuolumne, Merced, Kings, Kern Rivers and Cache Creek. In fact, if you are planning to raft in California, it would be virtually impossible without this effort and the loss of hundreds of miles of riparian habitat would be equally tragic. This effort needs to continue because 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, and choosing Mother Lode helps make it happen.

Not interested in writing a letter? No worries, similar to all our programs, Conservation adheres to “challenge by choice” which means it is entirely voluntary. Disagree? Your letter will be treated with the same respect we give all others.

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!


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!