Rafting the Eel River in California

Difficulty: Class III
Length: 53 miles
Flows: 1,000 cfs – 10,000 cfs
Gradient: 13 ft/mi
Put-in: Dos Rios
Take-out: Fort Seward
Season: Jan – June

The main Eel is one of the few long overnight rafting trips in California. The flow depends on rainfall and runs during the winter, spring, and early summer. For most of the run, the river follows an old railroad track, but the scenery is good. After rainstorms, the water is muddy, but during the late spring and early summer, when the rains have ceased, the water becomes a beautiful greenish-blue.

Eel River below Dos RiosThe main fork of the Eel River is usually run from Dos Rios to Alderpoint or 6 miles further to an easier take-out at Fort Seward. This run usually takes 4 days and allows time to explore the great tributaries and side creeks that flow into the Eel the entire way down. The Eel could be the longest continuous run in California for an advanced group of boaters. Starting at Estelle Creek on the Black Butte River, then continuing on the Middle Fork of the Eel and down the Main Eel all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The last part of the run from Fort Seward to the Pacific is mostly flat, but adding this stretch can easily turn the Eel into a 10-day wilderness run.

The Fort Seward take-out has the best gauge for the run since it gives the cumulative flow from Dos Rios down. The Middle Fork gauge does not give an accurate picture of the Main Eel run since there are so many tributaries adding water along the way.

For more information and pictures of the Main Eel, check out CaCreek’s descriptions and photographs.

See allaboturivers.com for more details about rafting the Eel River.

Directions

The shuttle is long and it is highly recommended to hire a shuttle. Gloria at Eel River Shuttles 707-926-5252 is a great driver or you can try the Alderpoint General Store 707-926-5408. The rate in 2002 was $135 for a full shuttle from Dos Rios, or $60 for half shuttle where you pick up the driver in Alderpoint. Shuttle drivers change often in this area.

To Dos Rios (put-in): To reach Dos Rios, from highway 101 head east on Covelo road. Go 16 miles to a bridge where the road crosses the middle fork. There is a parking lot near the bridge and where an old road leads down to a gravel bar on river left. It is nearly impossible to drive down to the gravel bar, so plan on carrying your gear.

To Fort Seward (take-out): From put-in go back to 101 and head north. Take the exit towards Garberville/ Redway and turn left onto Redwood Drive. Take a right on Alderpoint Rd. After 18 miles, you will have to turn left to stay on Alderpoint Rd. Stay on this Road to get to the town of Alderpoint where there is an alternate take-out. Otherwise, stay straight on Alderpoint Rd. which turns into Fort Seward Rd. and takes you to the best take-out.

Outfitters

There are no known outfitters on the Eel at this time.

Friends of the Eel River puts together private trips to teach people about the river and river conservation.

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho

Difficulty: Class III – IV
Length: 100 miles
Flows: 650 cfs to 8000 cfs
Gradient: 28 ft/mi
Put-in: Boundary or Indian Creek
Take-out: Cache Bar
Season: May – October

The perfect summer river trip meanders and plunges through the remote Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness deep in the heart of Idaho. Although it is not the most difficult, nor the longest whitewater trip, it is without a doubt one of the most spectacular. Side hikes to beautiful hot springs, incredible camps, and waterfalls cascading down the canyon walls into the river make a journey down the Middle Fork a one-of-a-kind, but hopefully not a once-in-a-lifetime, experience.

Boat on the Middle Fork of the Salmon RiverThe Middle Fork is an amazing vacation for people of all ages and abilities. The Class III rapids become much more challenging in an inflatable or hard shell kayak, while the less adventurous travelers can ride in a larger raft and fish or enjoy the scenery. The crystal clear water moves in and out of several ecosystems, from high mountain desert that is open and somewhat barren, to alpine forests with dense ponderosa pines and vibrant wildflowers. The canyon is the third deepest in the United States which makes some parts of it only accessible by raft. The Salmon River was one of the first eight rivers that the government protected as Wild and Scenic and the remoteness and spectacular beauty of the canyon are still present today.

A trip on the Middle Fork usually begins at Boundary put-in, water levels permitting. Since it is an entirely free-flowing watershed, the flows vary significantly throughout the year. When the water drops too low in the summer, or gets too high in the spring, then Indian Creek, twenty-five miles downstream, becomes the put-in of choice. Flights to Indian for you and all your gear (including your boats if you are on a private trip) are available on Salmon Air and McCall Air.

Woolard Camp on the Middle of the SalmonThe first quarter of the river is the most continuously difficult whitewater and can be very technical at low water. From Boundary put-in, to the alternate Indian Creek put-in, the river descends 40 ft/ mi. and has very few slow spots. Velvet Falls, Powerhouse Rapid, and Pistol Creek Rapid have all been known to give boaters a hard time every now and then. Sheepeater Hot springs makes a great place to camp or stop and relax for a couple hours.

After Indian Creek (and the Airstrip) there are several fun class III rapids including Marble Creek and Tappan Falls, interspersed with incredible riverside hot springs This is also the section of the river that passes (and if you are very lucky, stops at) the luxurious Middle Fork Lodge.

Until you reach the Flying B Ranch and Airstrip, the river maintains a strong current, and there are some fun class II ripples, but no significant whitewater. Immediately following the Flying B are the Haystack Rapids. At low water, the rapid is very rocky and technical.

The canyon constricts and the river heads into a deep, wonderful granite-walled gorge for the last twenty-five miles. This steep and narrow section, from Waterfall Creek Rapid to Devil’s Tooth Rapid, is many boaters’ favorite. Around every bend there is a waterfall or creek flowing into the main channel, Bighorn sheep are often spotted high up on the cliffs, and the rapids are frequent.

After Rubber Rapids and Hancock Rapids, the Middle Fork joins with the Main Salmon and ends with a giant bang right before take-out. The largest rapids on the river, Cramer Creek Rapids, were formed during a flood when Cramer Creek plunged into the Salmon River and changed a class II ripple into a significant class IV drop. After six days of being on the river, rafters and duckiers (in inflatable kayaks) are delighted by the grand finale.

Private permits are very competitive and drawn on a lottery system. You’ll need to go to the Forest Service website for more information and application forms.

There is another extensive write up with great pictures of the Middle Fork on CAcreeks’s Middle Fork of the Salmon page. Also, check out allaboutrivers.com for more information on rafting the Middle Fork Salmon River.

Directions

Most people that run the Middle Fork go with an outfitter because the logistics can be quite staggering. If you go with an outfitter, you can fly to Boise and then to Stanley where you will meet your head guide. At the end of your trip you can fly from Salmon, ID (near the take-out) to Boise and then from Boise home.

If you are organizing a private trip, you’ll most likely be hiring a shuttle service to shuttle your cars from Boundary Creek to Cache Bar. If you decide to fly your gear and friends to Indian, you’ll want to fly in from Salmon, ID to make your shuttle easier.

McCall Air – Air shuttle service based in McCall, Idaho

River Shuttles – Car shuttle service based in Salmon, Idaho

Salmon Air – Air shuttle service based in Salmon, Idaho

To get to Boundary Creek Launch Site (put-in): Get yourself on Highway 75 Latin Stanley and head west. You’ll go 24 miles from Stanley and turn north on a poorly marked dirt road (USFS Road 597). This road will take you through some beautiful scenery. You’ll drive through a big meadow and take a right onto Road 568. From here it’s 13 miles to Boundary Creek Launch Site.

This is a very heavily used launch so please work with all of the other parties to get your boats down the ramp.

To Indian Creek (alternate put-in): During high water and low water most groups fly into Indian Creek, 25 miles down river from Boundary Creek launch site .You’ll want to call Salmon Air or McCall Air to help you do this.

To get to Cache Bar (take-out): You’ll end up at Cache Bar which is basically the end of the road. As you leave the boat ramp, take a right onto the dirt road which will take you up the Main Salmon River. Just before the town of North Fork is a free Scat machine and trash dump. Take a right on Highway 93 in North Fork which will take you to Salmon and then Stanley along the Salmon River.

Outfitters

ARTA River Trips

Action Whitewater Adventures

Adventure Guides

Adventure Sun Valley

Aggipah River Trips

Canyons Incorporated

ECHO River Trips

Far & Away Adventures

Hughes River Expeditions, Inc.

Idaho River Journeys

Idaho Wilderness Company

Ken Masoner’s Whitewater Adventures

Mackay Wilderness River Trips, Inc.

Middle Fork Rapid Transit

Middle Fork River Expeditions

Middle Fork River Tours

Middle Fork Wilderness Outfitters

Mountain Travel-Sobek

O.A.R.S. Dories

River Odysseys West, Inc.

Rocky Mountain River Tours

Solitude River Trips

Warren River Expeditions

Wilderness River Outfitters

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Disclaimer: River descriptions and classifications may change due to natural events that may create new hazards or flows. C-W-R advises that any paddler that uses this site be additionally informed by seeking out local news and updates for changes on this river.

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Rafting the Upper Sacramento River

Difficulty: Class II+ to III+
Length: 8.25 or 12.5 miles
Flows: 800 cfs – 5000 cfs
Gradient: 58 ft/mi
Put-in: Sims Road
Take-out: Pollard Gulch or Mosquito Creek
Season: March – June

With its headwaters beginning near 14,162 ft majestic Mount Shasta, the Upper Sacramento River is one of those river gems that offers roller coaster waves, beautiful side creeks, deep green pools, moss covered cliffs, and cascading water falls set in a lush river canyon.

There are nearly 38 rapids in the 8.25 mile half-day stretch and 52 rapids in the full-day 12.5 mile stretch. With rapids like Wakeup, Sluice Box, Little Freight Train, Champaign, Tree, Upper Shotgun Creek, Drop Kick, Dance Hall, Hockey Shot, Sixteen Tons, Wash Board, The Grotto, Eye of the Needle, The Alley, Gibson Curve, Pin Ball, Zig Zag, Snaggle Tooth, Falls Creek, Lickety Split, Double Play, Slate Creek, White Horse, Black Stallion, Washing Machine, and the infamous Rinse Cycle to name a few there is little time for boaters to get bored on this fast paced river. Between the nearly non-stop rapids, boaters will have time to appreciate the beauty this river canyon has to offer. This is a must do stretch of river on California’s longest river system and one that you will want to do over and over again.

Directions

To Sims Road (put-in): From Sacramento or the Bay Area, travel North on Interstate 5 to the Sims Road exit, exit 718 which is approximately 40 miles North of Redding, CA. If you are traveling South on Interstate 5 from Medford, Oregon, the Sims Road exit is 21 miles south of Mt. Shasta City. From the exit, it is a short 1/2 mile drive to the put-in which is on your right just past the rail road tracks. Do not cross the bridge.

The river access is under the bridge down an access road. Put-in space is limited so patience is needed on those busy holiday weekends. You can also put-in across the river near the Sims Campground and foot bridge on your right, river left. However, the river bank is steep so use care and beware of poison oak.

To Pollard Gulch (8.25 mile run take-out): Take-out for the 8.25 mile stretch is at Pollard Gulch off Interstate 5 at exit 712, Pollard Flat. There is a forest service road leading down to the take-out (limited parking). Watch for the Pollard Gulch River Access sign after exciting I-5.

To Mosquito Creek (12.5 mile run take-out): This access is a little difficult to find. Take the Dog Creek/Vollmers exit off Interstate 5, exit 707. From the exit there are a couple of roads to choose from. Look for McCardle Flat Road. Once on McCardle Flat Road drive approximately 1.25 miles staying to the right all the way to a flat which is the parking area. Park here not down the road to the actual take-out area as space is limited. Only two vehicles can load rafts/kayaks and equipment at a time. Again be patient and practice river courtesy.

At this take-out you will have to cross the railroad tracks. Use caution, listen and watch for fast moving trains. Again this take-out area is hard to find so watch for vehicles in the parking area as you approach. Better yet, ask someone who knows where the take-out is at the Sims put-in before doing your shuttle. Who knows, you maybe able to follow them to the take-out.

Camping/Lodging

Camping is available at the Sims campground across the river from the put-in or at Castle Crags State
Park approximately 6 miles north of Sims Road on Interstate 5. Lodging and meals are available in Dunsmuir 12 miles or Mt. Shasta City 21 miles north of Sims Road on I-5.

Outfitters

Living Waters Recreation

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Rafting the Truckee River

Difficulty: Class III (one IV)
Length: 6 miles
Flows: 800 cfs – 2500 cfs
Gradient: 25 ft/mi
Put-in: Boca
Take-out: Floriston
Season: April – August

The Truckee is great beginner run if your in North Lake Tahoe, Truckee, or Reno and looking for something fun to do on a hot summer day. The rapids are fun and the river is cold. The river follows Interstate 80 for much of its course which detracts from the quality of this run although it is hardly noticeable until the end.

The Truckee begins as the Upper Truckee up near Carson Pass and flows into Lake Tahoe. Water is released from the far end of the lake at a dam which controls the lake level and provides reliable summer releases. There are many options available for renting rafts for the scenic Class I float from the dam to River Ranch. Below here are many miles of river that a kayaker or small rafter may enjoy, but the best rafting section of river begins near the confluence of the Truckee with the Little Truckee below Boca Reservoir.

The whitewater below put-in is mostly Class II and III boulder dodging. The one rapid of note is the Class IV rapid Bronco which occurs just before take-out and is visible from Interstate 80. It can be scouted while leaving a car at take-out. Class III paddlers will typically portage along the nearby railroad tracks.

Below Floriston the river is runnable all the way through Reno. The three diversion dams have been known to be run, but are very dangerous. Consult Creekin.net’s Truckee River Page for more information, stories, and logistics about the Truckee River below Floriston.

The Truckee River runs through Reno, which is the site of the new whitewater park. The new $1.5 million park is a mecca for kayakers, but also has some surf holes that could be fun for a raft. The increasing popularity of the park will bring more Reno-ites into the rafting world and on the Truckee River.

Directions

To Boca (put-in): Drive seven miles east of Truckee and then north to the river. You can put in on the Little Truckee or the main Truckee depending on how you feel. If you’re coming from Reno drop a car at the Floriston exit on your way up Interstate 80 and take the Boca exit for put-in.

To Floriston (take-out): Get yourself on Interstate 80 and head towards Reno. You’ll see the Truckee River. Take the Floriston exit and park by the bridge. If you end up in Reno you’ve gone way too far.

Outfitters

Tahoe Whitewater Tours

Tributary Whitewater Tours

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Rafting the Illinois River in Oregon

Difficulty: Class IV+ (one V)
Length: 32 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 3000 cfs
Gradient: 24 ft/mi
Put-in: Miami Bar
Take-out: Lower Oak Flat
Season: December – May

Rafting the Illinois River is an amazing experience. The river is best known for its amazing scenery, crystal clear water, outstanding rapids, and rain. The Illinois River is similar to the Rogue River except that has better rapids, is more beautiful, and much less crowded. Many seasoned river guides consider the Illinois as their favorite river in the world.

The Illinois River is not rafted as often as the Rogue since there is no dam upstream of put-in. The amount of water in the river is directly related to rain. If it rains too much the river can rise to an unsafe level (above 3000 cfs) within a couple of hours. The river can also drop below runnable levels after a few days without rain. This makes a trip challenging to organize since trips are often cancelled due to high water, low water, or potential bad weather. The extremely high quality of this river trip far outweighs the potential of a cancelled trip.

A river permit is required to float the Illinois River and can be obtained free of charge in front of the Selma Market in Selma, Oregon. There is a self registration booth in front of the market that is open 24 hours a day. At this time, and unlimited number of private permits is available. There are only two commercial outfitters on the Illinois River and each is given one start per week.

Most groups will put-in at the Miami bar campground. There are restrooms here, but no drinking water. The first few miles are fairly flat and several creeks add water to the river. Just below York Creek are the two Class IV drops York Creek Rapid and Clear Creek Rapid. A few miles below these rapids is the Class IV Pine Creek Rapid with the famous “Boat Eater” in the right channel. There is a wonderful campsite on a high bench just below Pine Creek Rapid.

The next ten miles have many Class III rapids and good campsites. The best campsites are at Klondike Creek and Deadman Bar. This section of “scenic” river ends when you see a large pink boulder on the right which signals the beginning of the gorge. Just below the pink boulder is Red Rock Bar which would make an excellent campsite or lunch spot for a small group.

Green Wall Rapid on the Illinois River in OregonThe gorge below here contains one of the best sections of whitewater in the world. It begins with the Class IV rapid Preludewhich has a steep drop on the left side. Prelude is quickly followed by the Class V drop Green Wall which should be scouted on the left. A few rapids past Green Wall is Little Green Wall which has been know to give overconfident rafters quite a bit of trouble. There are several more miles of fun Class III and IV rapids below here including the famous Submarine Hole. This is an exciting Class IV rapid that has a reputation for flipping boats on either the right or left wall at the bottom. Be especially careful at Submarine Hole at low water.

A mile below Submarine Hole, the rapids ease up and Collier Creek enters on the left and an amazing campground is just downstream. The last ten miles of the trip contain some great campgrounds and fun class III rapids. The scenery below Collier Creek is unmatched on any river. The river has a magical feel to it in this lower canyon. You can float all the way to the Rogue or skip some flatwater and take-out at Lower Oak Flat.

Directions

Most groups hire a shuttle service and drive directly to put-in at Miami Bar. The shuttle drivers will meet you at put-in and drive your cars to take-out on a prescribed day. The Illinois shuttle can be quite complicated so this makes life much easier. The shuttle services in the area are quite affordable and professional.

Historically, most rafters have used Galice Resort to run their shuttles. You can call them at (541)476-3818 to reserve a driver. Another option is to contact Sharon at Affordable Shuttles at (541)479-1042 or toll free at (866)HUGGINS. Sharon can also be reached through email at sharonl@affordableshuttles.com.

To reach Miami Bar (put-in): Get yourself on Interstate 5 and head to Oregon. You’ll enter Oregon and drive through Ashland and Medford. In Grants Pass take Highway 199 west towards Crescent City. You’ll drive 23 miles to the town of Selma where you can register for your river permit in front of Selma Market. In Selma hang a right (north) onto Illinois River Road, which is also Forest Service Road 3504. Take this road about seven miles before veering left. The dirt road willl travel about nine more miles before descending down to the Illinois River at Miami Bar.

To reach Lower Oak Flat (take-out): Most groups will pay a professional shuttle service to get there cars to take-out. If you’re too poor for this or bored, follow these directions.

Since Bear Camp Road is usually covered in snow when the Illinois is running, most groups will take Highway 199 further west to the wonderful metropolis of Crescent City. In Crescent City take a right (north) on Highway 101 and drive fifty miles to Gold Beach. In Gold Beach, drive up the south side of the Rogue River for 34 miles until you cross the Illinois River. Just past the bridge you’ll hang a right on Road 450 which leads to Lower Oak Flat.

Outfitters

ARTA Whitewater Rafting

Sundance Kayak School

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South Fork of the American

Difficulty: Class III+
Length: 20.5 miles
Flows: 800 cfs – 10,000 cfs
Gradient: 23 ft/mi
Put-in: Chili Bar
Take-out: Folsom Lake
Season: April to October

The South Fork of the American River is the best day run in the United States due to its super fun and extremely safe rapids. It is also close to both Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The reliable summer releases from Chili Bar Dam make it possible to raft the American River through September. The entire run from Chili Bar to Folsom lake is 21 miles and can be done in one long day, but most people will take two days to enjoy the scenery and wonderful rapids. The two runs on the South Fork are referred to as Chili Bar (Upper) and “the Gorge” (Lower).

Featured Outfitter

The Chili Bar run starts where Highway 193 crosses the South Fork of the American River. The best place to put in is at the Chili Bar Resort (on river right below the bridge) where they will charge you parking and river use fees.

There is a fun surf spot right at put in that will fill a bucket boat with water if you have any luck. The river starts with Meatgrinder which is a challenging Class III rapid that is not any fun to swim. You will soon be tested by Racehorse Bend, Maya, Triple Threat, and finally Troublemaker which usually lives up to its name. The great thing about Troublemaker is that the cameras are rolling and there is usually a crowd of people waiting for some trouble. Troublemakeris followed by several miles of Class II rapids, including the Gremlin and Old Scary. Most Chili Bar trips will take out at Camp Lotus where you will be charged for parking and take-out fees again.

The Gorge run picks up at Camp Lotus where the Chili Bar run left off. It starts with six miles of Class II rapids including Current Divider and Highway Rapid. When you see the Lollipop Tree (a tree shaped like a lollipop) for a third time you’re about to enter the Gorge.

The Gorge starts with Fowler’s Rock which is a Class III rapid that has great potential to “wrap” or flip a boat. Following Fowler’s are Upper Haystack, Lost Hat, Satan’s Cesspool (be sure to smile for the cameras again), Scissors, Bouncing Rock, Hospital Bar, and Surprise.

The trip ends on Folsom Lake where you will get a good work out by paddling across the reservoir. Wimps can pay one of the towboats for a ride. Private boaters take out on the right above the Salmon Falls bridge and commercial outfitters take out on the left after the bridge.

Salmon Falls was a town famous for a 20 foot waterfall that stopped salmon from spawning in the upper reaches of the South Fork. The town and the falls were covered and destroyed by Folsom Lake.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s South Fork American description.

Directions

To reach Chili Bar from Sacramento: Get yourself on Highway 50 and head east towards Placerville where you should hang a left(north) on Highway 49 . After a mile on Highway 49, take a right onto Highway 193 which descends down to the river.

From Chili Bar to Camp Lotus: Get yourself Back on Highway 49 and head north towards Coloma. Just past the Marshall Gold Discovery Park you will take a left on Lotus Road. Take Lotus Road for a 1.5 miles to Bassi Road where you will take a left. Camp Lotus is about a mile down Bassi Road on the right. You’ll have to pay a fee to enter, camp, or use the river access.

From Camp Lotus to Salmon Falls: Exit Camp Lotus by taking a left on Bassi Road, left on Lotus Road, and then left again at Highway 49. Follow Highway 49 for about eight miles until you see Salmon Falls Road on the left. It’s easy to miss so pay attention to road signs at the top of a small grade. You’ll take a left on Salmon Falls Road and another immediate left which will still be Salmon Falls Road. It’s about seven miles to the Salmon Falls Bridge. Private boaters will want to park on the left before the bridge as commercial companies park on the left after the bridge.

To reach Salmon Falls from Sacramento: Head East on Highway 50 and exit left (north) on to Eldorado Hills Blvd which will turn into Salmon Falls Road after you cross Green Valley Road. Keep going until you cross Salmon Falls Bridge where private boaters will want to park on the left after the bridge.

Outfitters

Action Whitewater Adventures

Adventure Connection

All-Outdoors

American River Recreation (ARR)

ARTA Whitewater Rafting

American Whitewater Expeditions

Beyond Limits

California Canoe and Kayak

Chili Bar Outdoor Center (CBOC)

Current Adventures Kayak School

Disabled Sports USA

Earthtrek Expeditions

Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC)

Fluid Dynamic Kayaking

Gold Rush Whitewater Kayaking

Mariah Wilderness Expeditions

Mother Lode River Trips

Mountain & River Adventures

Nonesuch Whitewater

O.A.R.S. Inc.

Outdoor Adventures, UC Davis

Outdoors Unlimited, UC San Francisco

River and Rock Adventures

River Mountain Action (RMA)

River Dancers

River Runners

Rock-N-Water

Rubicon Whitewater Adventures

Sierra South Mountain Sports

South Bay River Rafters

Tahoe Whitewater Tours

Tributary Whitewater Tours

University of Nevada, Reno

W.E.T. River Trips

Whitewater Connection

Whitewater Excitement

Whitewater Voyages

Wilderness Adventures

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Rafting the Rogue River in Oregon

Difficulty: Class III (one IV)
Length: 35 miles
Flows: 1000 cfs – 30,000 cfs
Gradient: 15 ft/mi
Put-in: Grave Creek
Take-out: Foster Bar
Season: Year Around

The Rogue River is one of the original eight rivers designated as “Wild and Scenic” by Congress in 1968 for its amazing beauty and wilderness. The Rogue below Grave Creek is described by many as “floating through a zoo” due to the plentiful bald eagles, osprey, deer, bear, chinook salmon, steelhead, and wildflowers. The river has many fun Class II and III rapids with long pools in between. This is the best river in the world for families to enjoy and is a delight in an inflatable kayak.

Trips that float the Rogue River below Grave Creek require a permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management. Permits are issued on a lottery system, but can also be issued on the spot if you’re lucky and a cancellation occurs. Visit the Rogue River Permit web site for more details.

Many trips begin their Rogue River trip at the Grave Creek river access. Groups looking for a longer trip will put-in at Alameda Bar four miles upriver of Grave Creek. The Grave Creek put-in has an Oregon style concrete boat ramp and plush restroom.

Just below Grave Creek are the class III rapids Grave Creek Rapid and Grave Creek Falls which make a great warm-up. Past Grave Creek Falls is a mile and a half of slow moving water. The largest (and most dangerous) rapid of the trip, Rainie Falls, comes at the end of a long pool. A distinct horizon line warns rafters of this large Class V rapid.

Rainie Falls is an unforgettable rapid. The main drop on the left is a six foot falls into a frowning hole and long boil line. The main drop is rafted occasionally, but is well known for flipping boats and sending people for a long and scary swim. There are two alternate options to the main drop. Most seasoned river guides will take their boats down the “mid chute” just right of the main drop. This is a Class IV maneuver through a narrow chute and a large drop. Most boaters will bump their way down the class III “fish ladder” on the far right side.

Rafting groups will typically spend their first night on the river below Rainie Falls near Whiskey Creek and Rum Creek. There is also a good campsite on the right just below Tyee Rapid, but it is very popular among commercial outfitters and usually claimed early in the morning. There are few campsites in the six miles between Tyee Rapid and Horseshoe Bar.

Below the difficult Class III Tyee Rapid are the fun class III rapids Wildcat, Slim Pickens, Upper Black Bar, Lower Black Bar, and Horseshoe. There is a wonderful lodge at Black Bar that is the only lodge option in the upper half of the canyon. There is good at Battle Bar and Missouri Bar. A cabin that was previously occupied by the author Zane Grey is on the right just past Battle Bar.

The next place of note is Mule Creek and the Rogue River Ranch. This is a hard place to miss due to the well used sandy beaches and numerous people. There are several good campsites here that are typically occupied as many groups lay-over here. There is a wonderful museum and horseshoe pit that is maintained by the BLM at the ranch. An emergency four-wheel drive road leaves the canyon at Rogue River Ranch.

Soon after Mule Creek is the beautiful Mule Creek Canyon and its vertical rock walls on both sides. The canyon is about half a mile long and is quite intimidating due to the rock walls which create strange currents. There is not much room to maneuver in the canyon, so strong skills are necessary in order to avoid slamming into the walls.

At the entrance of the canyon is the Class III rapid Jaws which requires solid boat handling skills. A swim at Jaws would not be fun due to the rock walls, currents, and boils in the canyon below. The other rapid of note is Coffee Pot, a turbulent class III rapid in the heart of Mule Creek Canyon. Most trips pull over in an eddy on the right just past Coffee Pot to admire the cascading waterfalls of Stair Creek.

Soon after Mule Creek Canyon is Blossom Bar Rapid which is the biggest drop of the trip. This Class IV drop has several different lines at different water levels and is known for wrapping boats on the right side in the notorious “Picket Fence.” Confident Class IV boaters will enjoy the challenge of this rapid. Most groups will choose to scout this rapid by walking down the right side and looking down on the rapid from the cliffs.

After passing Blossom Bar the river changes character. Immediately following Blossom Bar is the Class III rapid Devil’s Staircase. There are manymore good Class III rapids ahead, along with several amazing lodges. You’ll see the occasional jet boat during the summer months.

The river canyon opens up and you soon pass by Paradise Lodge on the right which is a great place to stop for some ice cream, beer, or toilet paper at a “Rogue River” price. Some rafting groups will stay at the lodge instead of camping to enjoy the wonderful ambiance of the lodge. Just down river of Paradise Lodge is Half Moon Bar Lodge which is more secluded and quite a bit nicer. There is a five hole golf course on the airstrip as well as many other amenities.

Past Half Moon Bar there are wonderful campsites at Solitude and Tacoma. Clay Hill Lodge, Peyton Place Lodge, and Illahe Lodge are scattered along the river and an option for boaters. One of the better side hikes of a Rogue River trip is up Tate Creek which you will pass during this last section of the trip. Take-out is at Foster Bar which has a scat machine, garbage dump, and concrete ramp.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s Wild and Scenic Rogue River description.

Directions

Most groups will drive to Galice and hire a shuttle driver to drop them off at either Grave Creek or Alameda Bar. The shuttle driver will then drive their car to the take-out at Foster Bar. The shuttle can take anywhere between two and five hours depending on which road is open so this is a good option.

Historically, most rafters have used Galice Resort to run their shuttles. You can call them at (541)476-3818 to reserve a driver. Another option is to contact Sharon at Affordable Shuttles at (541)479-1042 or toll free at (866)HUGGINS. Sharon can also be reached through email at sharonl@affordableshuttles.com.

There are three ways to drive between put-in and take-out if you choose to drive your own shuttle. Once the snow melts, most groups will travel via Bear Camp Road which is the quickest route. When Bear Camp Road closes or before the snow melts there is an alternate route via Eden Valley. The longest option is to drive along the coast via Crescent City and Highway 199. The shuttle drivers are all very aware of the best route at a given time.

To reach Grave Creek (put-in): Get yourself on Interstate 5 and drive to Oregon. You’ll drive through Ashland, Medford, and finally Grants Pass. Take Exit 61 and head west towards Merlin. You’ll pass through Merlin and Galice and the road will change names from Merlin Galice Road to Merlin Road and you’ll finally be on Galice Road. A few miles past Galice you’ll drive by Rand which is where you can pick up your river permit. Just past Rand is Alameda Bar which is an excellent alternate option for put-in. Most groups will continue down Galice Road and put-in just below the bridge at Grave Creek.

To reach Foster Bar (take-out): Most groups will use a shuttle driver, but if you’re strapped for cash and want to drive your own shuttle, ask the nice people at Rand for a shuttle map and current road advice when you pick up your permit.

Outfitters

 

ARTA Whitewater Rafting

Echo: The Wilderness Company

Morrison’s Lodge

NOAH’S RIVER ADVENTURES

O.A.R.S. Inc.

Orange Torpedo

Rogue Klamath River Adventures

Rogue River Raft Trips

Rogue Wilderness, Inc.

Sundance Kayak School

Turtle River

Whitewater Warehouse

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North Fork of Stanislaus

Difficulty: Class IV+
Length: 5 miles
Flows: 400 cfs – 1500 cfs
Gradient: 66 ft/mi
Put-in: Sourgrass Campground
Take-out: Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Season: March to August

The North Fork of the Stanislaus is a classic advanced river rafting trip through a beautiful central Sierra canyon. During the normal spring runoff this is a fun section of whitewater punctuated by classic rapids formed by granite bedrock and boulders. The upstream reservoirs provide semi-reliable flow during the summer months. This run can be navigated by smaller rafts as low as 400 cfs and is quite an enjoyable technical challenge at the lower flows.

Your trip down the “North Stan” will begin by putting in below the dangerous Class V+ Sourgrass Ravine on river right. Burly rafting types will choose to scout this rapid for giggles, but most will choose to put in just below it due to some nasty undercuts. This was a classic Class V drop until a landslide during the epic New Years floods of 1997 filled in the entrance with boulders.

You’ll enjoy two tricky Class IV rapids just below put-in. These rapids are followed by some great Class III and IV rapids for the next few miles including The Slot. The dense pine forests make for a very pleasant day.

Your trip down the North Stan ends by floating into Calaveras Big Trees State Park and some amazing scenery. The last mile of the run includes the three great Class IV+ rapids The Thing, Upper Sequoia, and Lower Sequoia. There is usually quite an audience of tourists, sunbathers, hikers, and naturalists at the bridge to watch you paddle through Lower Sequoia. Take out by walking your boats up a steep hill to the bridge.

There are two and a half miles of more difficult whitewater including three Class V rapids down river of the bridge. This lower run (called “McKay’s”) that ends at McKay’s Point is more continuous and usually has several log hazards.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s North Fork Stanislaus near Arnold description.

Directions

To reach Calaveras Big Trees State Park (put-in): If you’re in the central valley you’ll want to get yourself on Highway 99 and head to Stockton. At the southern end of Stockton take Highway 4 east. You’ll drive through the foothill towns of Angel’s Camp and then Arnold. A few miles past Arnold, take a right into Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Park rangers at the front gate will ask you to pay a few bucks to the government in order to access the public land. From the entrance kiosk keep driving on the main road down to the river and put-in. You can park on either side of the river.

To reach Sourgrass Campground (take-out): Get yourself back on Highway 4 and head east towards higher ground. After a couple miles hang a right onto Board’s Crossing Road. You’ll travel a few miles to a fork in the road. The dirt road to the right goes to Board’s Crossing. You’ll want to bear left and go three more miles to Sourgrass Campground. The campground is on the right before the river.

Outfitters

All-Outdoors

Beyond Limits Adventures

O.A.R.S., Inc.

Whitewater Voyages

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North Fork of the Feather

Difficulty: Class IV
Length: 5 miles
Flows: 1000 – 1600 cfs
Gradient: 48 ft/mi
Put-in: Cresta Dam
Take-out: Poe Reservoir
Season: Summer Release

This North Fork of the Feather flows through a beautiful granite canyon along Highway 70 with a series of dams and powerhouses plugging the river. In the past all of the water was diverted from one powerhouse to the next leaving dry rocks in between the dams and reservoirs. American Whitewater worked hard to secure dam releases to irrigate these rocks. Now on select weekends during the summer and fall, the dams release enough water for rafters and kayakers to float the river. The best raft run is below Cresta dam and runs five miles through some classic rapids to a take out above Poe Reservoir.

For the summer 2004 runnable flows are expected to be released on the last weekend of each month from June to October.

When the river is scheduled to flow, American Whitewater sets up a booth at take out and accepts small donations in exchange for a shuttle. There isn’t enough room for all of the boaters to park their cars near put-in so this is a nice service.

The run starts by lowering your boats to a put-in below the Cresta Dam. You’ll enjoy two Class III rapids during the first mile. After Grizzly creek enters on the left you’ll be floating by Highway 70 and an alternate (easier) put-in.

Below here are several straightforward rapids which are a good warm up for the Class IV County Line Falls which deserves a scout. Below here are quality rapids including the Class IV rapids The Wave and Cave Rapid. Be careful at Cave Rapid because there is a dangerous undercut cave on the left at the bottom. Immediately following Cave Rapid is Rock Garden which is the final Class IV rapid.

You can take out about a mile past Rock Garden at Shady Rest Take-out, but most trips continue down the river for some fun Class II and III rapids. Just before take-out is the final rapid, Rock-n-Wrap, which is very well named. This rapid deserves a scout since there is no clean line for rafts. Take-out immediately follows Rock-n-Wrap on the left. You can slide your boats up a concrete ramp or carry them up a primitive trail to the parking lot.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s North Fork Feather description.

Directions

To reach Poe Reservoir (take-out): You’ll want to get onto Highway 70 in Oroville and head up the North Fork of the Feather river canyon. Just past Poe Reservoir is a dirt road down to a large parking lot and power generation station. This is a great place to park and take advantage of a shuttle service to put-in.

To reach Cresta Dam (take-out): Get back onto Highway 70 and keep driving up the river. Just before the Elephant Butte Tunnel are places to park on the right and left hand side of the road for an easier put in. If you need to run the first two Class III rapids, drive past these turnouts and drive through the tunnel. Hold your breath. You can park on the left and walk to a trail that leads to the river. You’ll need to hike your boat single file down a trail and lower your boats off a cliff. Adventure!

Outfitters

At this time there are no outfitters with permitted to run this section of the North Fork of the Feather.

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Middle Fork of the Feather

Difficulty: Class V+ (portages)
Length: 32.5 miles
Flows: 1000 – 1500 cfs
Gradient: 70 ft/mi
Put-in: Nelson Point
Take-out: Milsap Bar
Season: Spring Runoff

This Middle Fork of the Feather is one of the eight original rivers declared “Wild and Scenic” by Congress in 1968. This river trip travels through three distinct canyons (unnamed volcanic, Franklin Canyon, and Devil’s Canyon) with many Class V and V+ rapids and one long portage. Rafting this run is reccommended only for teams of experts at favorable water levels.

The key to doing this run in a raft is to have enough water at put in to negiotiate the initial volcanic caynon, but not too much water in Devil’s Canyon where the narrow and vertical granite walls create huge rapids. When the Middle Feather gauge at Milsap bar reads 1500 and dropping, the flow is ideal. This will give you around a 1000 cfs at put-in which will allow you to negotiate the shallow rapids in the first canyon. By the time you reach Devil’s Canyon if you have 1200-1300 cfs you’ll be very happy. Above 1500 cfs the hydraulics become stompy and the rapids more continuous.

During the first day of this three day trip you’ll be tested with technical Class IV rapids and boulder gardens. There is one larger rapid this day with a Class IV entrance that leads into a large drop that is portaged by most rafters. You’ll probably camp below Horsehoe Bend.

The second day involves several great rapids in Franklin Canyon including the Class V Franklin Falls. Franklin Canyon is characterized by steep rapids created by metamorphic bedrock. This section will involve much scouting and some portaging due to poorly placed sharp rocks. There are many great places to camp on your second night, and one of the best is probably just below a footbridge for the Pacific Crest Trail. This campsite is still officically in Franklin Canyon, but is far enough down the canyon to leave time to complete the river and strenuous portage required the next day. Carpenter Creek which enters on river right also makes a great walk for adventurous hikers.

The final day of a Middle Fork Feather trip is the best. The towering granite walls are staggering and the rapids are awesome! In the heart of Devil’s Canyon you’ll have to portage Granite Dome Fallswhich is a quarter-mile long series of Class V+ drops. The portage requires de-rigging and deflating all of your rubber for a walk through bushes and trees on river right. There are also many great runnable Class V rapids including Double Diagonal, Uncle Maytag, and Freshie-Fresh (just before the portage).

At take-out you’ll have a feeling of exhaustion, invincibilitiy, and awe at the same time. Below Milsap Bar the river enters Bald Rock Canyon which is an even more difficult stretch of whitewater that ends with a bang in Lake Oroville.

If you’re interested in pictures and the perspective of an inflatable kayaker, check out Creekin’s Middle Fork Feather description.

Directions

Most groups will start their trip in either the Reno/Truckee area or the Sacramento area and drive to put-in the night before. Then they’ll have a few people run a reverse shuttle and leave a few cars at take out. You may also want to find a “local” to help you drive your shuttle and save the effort.

To reach Nelson Point (put-in): You’ll want to get onto Highway 70 in Oroville and head up the North Fork of the Feather river canyon. Just past Quincy, take a right onto La Porte Road and follow that about eight miles to a bridge across the Middle Fork. You can put in at a campground on the right just before the bridge. From Reno or Truckee you can get on Highway 70 from either 89 North or 395 North.

To reach Milsap Bar (take-out): Get back onto Higway 70 and head back to Oroville where you should look for Highway 162 East. Follow Highway 162 until you see a sign for Bald Rock Road on the right. Take Bald Rock Road for about a mile and then hang a left onto Milsap Bar road. This is a seven mile dirt road down to a great campground along the river.

Outfitters

There are no outfitters with permitted to run this section of the Middle Fork of the Feather, although a few “pirate” trips have been reported.

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