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East Fork of the Carson River2022-07-02T09:47:37-07:00

East Fork of the Carson River Rafting Guidebook

The East Fork of the Carson River flows from scenic Markleeville, CA, winding its way through Leviathan Canyon, and passing several camps on its journey to Gardnerville, NV. It’s one of the best ways to cross into Nevada from California. The rapids are approachable to most boaters, with one Class III known as Sidewinder about halfway through the 18-mile run. There is excellent fishing along this river as well as hot springs, making for a great single day or multi-day trip.

About this guide

This guide outlines the most commonly run section of the East Fork of the Carson River. Keep in mind that many of the rapids have a number of different names. If you feel like we should update or add a name, please let us know.

River Info

The East Fork of the Carson River offers wonderful scenery, access to hot springs, access to excellent camping, and great whitewater for beginning and intermediate boaters.


There are campsites at Barney Hot Springs and littered throughout the run. These are managed by the Forest Service and are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis. There is a small fee for both campsites.


While it only ranks as a Class III rapid, Sidewinder can sneak up on you. We recommend scouting this rapid from the left side. Be mindful of sharp rocks throughout this rapid.

Be sure to take out at the correct location. Just downstream lies the Ruhenstroth Dam, which has a channel on the left side that has been rated as a Class V+ with another Class V rapid awaiting below. The Take-Out is conspicuously marked by graffiti on river right.


Permits are not required for private boaters on the East Fork of the Carson River.

Shuttle Info

We recommend using a shuttle service for the East Fork of the Carson River, especially if you plan on doing an overnight trip, as there have been numerous reports of break-ins and vandalism at the take-out. Laura Rocha at River Rats Shuttle Service offers a great shuttle service and will deliver your vehicle at the take-out. They can be reached at either (775) 901-6492 or (775) 901-6247

The East Fork of the Carson is typically run between 500-2,000 CFS. At lower flows, this section is runnable in Inflatable Kayaks down to roughly 300 CFS.

East Fork Carson River Flow
Gauge data provided by Dreamflows.com

We do not have a preferred partner (yet) for the East Fork of the Carson River. If you are a commercial outfitter with an excellent reputation we would love to hear from you.

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East Fork of the Carson River Map & Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment, experience, or skill level. 

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Put-In / Take-Out

Used at the various Put-Ins & Take-Outs
throughout this stretch

Point of Interest

These include creeks, side hikes and historical markers.

Fun Zone

Well known surf waves, jump rock locations, and safe swim areas


Riverside camping locations.

Hangman’s Run

The Hangman’s Run stretches from Hangman’s Bridge near Markleeville, CA and ends up near Gardnerville at the Ruhenstroth Dam (also known as the Broken Dam). The 19 mile stretch winds through consistent Class II rapids, with one Class III rapid known as Sidewinder Rapid in the middle of the run. It’s a great time for boaters of all skill levels.


Hangman’s Bridge River Access to Ruhenstroth Dam River Access is 19.24 miles.


Beginner to Intermediate.

Feet per Mile

Hangman’s Bridge River Access to Ruhenstroth Dam River Access is ~29 FPM

Shuttle Time

Hangman’s Bridge River Access to Ruhenstroth Dam River Access
is 1 hour and 15 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – Hangman’s Bridge Put-in: River right. The Put-In for most boaters is at Hangman’s Bridge. There is a pit toilet, and an easy acess to the trail. You can Put-In above here for Class III action, but note that shuttle services probably won’t operate above Hangman’s.

Mile 1.51 – Markleeville Creek Confluence: River Left. Markleeville Creek enters the East Fork of the Carson from the left-hand side. This creek flows through the heart of Markleeville.

Mile 7.94 – Above Sidewinder Camp: River Right. The river makes a sharp right. On the inside of this bend is a nice camp, which can be less busy during the summer months. There are nice hot springs on the left side of the river. Just downstream lies Sidewinder Rapid.

Mile 8.03 – Sidewinder Rapid: Class III+. Scouting is recommended on the left-hand side of the river. This rapid is just downstream of a sharp right bend with current pushing into a wall on the left. There are 3 routes here, a left sneak (with sharp rocks), and center ledge drop, and a right sneak. The right line closes out at lower flows. Learn more about Sidewinder Rapid.

Mile 8.55 – Barney Campground: River Left. Camping is possible at the Hot Springs, can be very busy during the warmer months.

Mile 8.55 – Barney Hot Springs: River Left. There are several hot springs on the left side of the river a little bit downstream of Sidewinder Rapid.

Mile 10.61 – Nevada State Line: Welcome to Nevada. It’s hard to tell from the river, but you just entered Nevada.

Mile 11.3 – Nevada Lunch Spot: River Right. The river makes a quick S-turn, on the right side is a nice rock below a pool, which can be a nice swimming hole/break spot for the last half of your trip.

Mile 11.78 – Wrapper’s Rock Rapid: Class II+. Stay alert here, there are boulders everywhere. A lot of current is pushing towards a boulder in the center. Staying right keeps you away from these boulders.

Mile 11.83 – Bryant Creek Confluence: River Right. The creator of Wrapper’s Rock Rapid is Bryant Creek, which enters from the right side.

Mile 14.95 – Rock Garden Rapid: Class II. This slow moving rapid has many boulders throughout it over the course of a hundred yards or so. Slow moving water allows you to pick numerous lines. Downstream lies Horseshoe Bend, which is hard to discern from river level, but the river makes a sweeping right turn.

Mile 19.07 – Graffiti Marks: River Right. High on the cliffs on the right side, there is graffiti. While we don’t condone graffiti in any way, this graffiti is an excellent indicator of take-out just downstream.

Mile 19.24 – Washoe Road River Access: River Right. Welcome to Nevada. Take-out is on the right-hand side, with a short walk to your vehicle. A good marker is graffiti on the cliffs on the right side. Just downstream is a dam, with a Class V+ rapid on the right side. This can be scouted from a cliff on the take-out. Most people don’t run this rapid.

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