South Fork of the American
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South Fork of the American Rafting Guidebook
The South Fork of the American is the most popular river in the West. It’s family-friendly, the rapids are exciting but not terrifying, and it has reliable flows all season long. This guide outlines the three most common runs in consecutive order beginning with Chili Bar, C to G, and finally The Gorge. These runs can be broken up or put together, giving you a variety of whitewater and length.
Most private boaters will do the entire South Fork over two days. Conveniently, Camp Lotus is right in the middle of the run, so if you’re well organized, book a campsite there and start with Chili Bar, spend the night at Lotus, then push off the next day and finish out C to G and through The Gorge.
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Chili Bar – Class II and III
The Chili Bar run offers it all from start to finish with Class II and III whitewater throughout the entire run. You have the option for an earlier takeout at Discovery Park but most opt to go a bit further to add some mileage.
C to G – Class II
Coloma to Greenwood, known as C to G is a short 5.5-mile trip featuring mellow Class II and calm pools. This is a great stretch for those new to rafting or kayaking.
The Gorge – Class II and III
After a mellow C to G run, the Gorge ramps up the intensity as it pulls away from town. Fun, splashy whitewater leads you into Folsom Lake.