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South Fork - North Fork 2 day Combo

Trip Details

SF-NF 2 day Combo
Trip Length: 2 Days
Difficulty: Class 4
Minimum Age: 16 yrs

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Price: $329 - $369

Government river use fee
not included.

plus $15 per person county, state and federal river access fees.

Trip Departures: Select weekends April to early June

Click here to download weekend trip details (pdf)

Trip Includes

  • 2 nights camping
    You can arrive anytime after 6 PM on the night preceding your trip.

  • 5 delicious meals
    Breakfast the first morning thru lunch the second day.

  • 2 days of rafting
    The Lower Gorge Run the first day followed by the Class IV+ North Fork American the second day. 

  • Free wetsuits for the North Fork


 Our 2 day trip includes 5 delicious meals and 2 nights camping at our private river front camp where you can enjoy our grass lawn, recreation area with sand volleyball court, horseshoes, ping pong and darts.

Our trip begins with breakfast followed by a brief trip orientation and safety talk. Afterwards we will begin our 13 mile journey down the Lower Gorge of the South Fork American which begins as we float a swift but mellow section of the river allowing everyone to perfect their paddling skills in preparation for the challenging American River Gorge. After a delicious 'deli-style lunch (on midweek trips we have lunch at our camp prior to begining the trip) we enter the Gorge where in quick succession we will bounce, yell, get wet and laugh through Fowler’s Rock, Satan’s Cesspool, Haystack Canyon, Bouncing Rock and Hospital Bar Rapids. Our journey ends on the warm, still waters of Folsom Lake where an awaiting bus or van shuttles you back to the EarthTrek Camp where you can relax and enjoy a complimentary beer and hors d'oeuvres as our guides prepare a dinner feast. After dinner we present an entertaining slide and video show where you can see yourself rafting the biggest rapids of the day.

The next morning after breakfast we will shuttle you to the North Fork put-in to begin our exciting Class IV+ run. The jewel of the Northern Sierra, the North Fork flows free and natural through a deep and narow wilderness granite gorge. Almost five miles of continuous Class IV+ rapids will be run including Slaughter's Sluice, Chamberlain Falls, Bogus Thunder and Staircase. After Staircase the river mellows for the next four miles to mostly Class III rapids  to Ponderosa Bridge, our take-out. Because of the free flowing nature of the North Fork, with no upstream dams, it is only runnable in the Spring when the Sierra snows are melting. The North Fork is a demanding and technical run, a favorite of those who have previously run the Soputh or Middle Fork of the American. Wet suits are a must on the North Fork and EarthTrek will provide them for free.


2 day South Fork - North Fork Combo trips are scheduled to depart on select Saturdays from April thru early June. Groups of 8 or more may schedule a trip any day of the week.       
 Saturday Sunday  Mon-Thur  Friday 
$315 adult
$275 adult
$275 adult 
$295 adult 

All trips are subject to a $15 per person federal, state and county river access fee

ITINERARY    South Fork & North Fork 2 day Combination Trip 

  • You may arrive anytime after 6 PM on the evening before your raft trip and settle into camp.
  • We provide a hearty breakfast the first morning which will be followedby our trip orientation and safety talk.
  • Shortly after we board the rafts to begin our journey down the South Fork American, the most popular river trip in California.
  • Our trip begins as we float a mellow but scenic section of the river through grassy hills studded with oak. Watch for wildlife as you might spot deer, blue heron, turtles and maybe even an eagle. 
  • After passing Fowler's Rock, the first Class III rapid, we enter the 'Gorge' and the river narrows and rapids come in quick succesion. You will be challenged by Satan's Cesspool, Bouncing Rock and Hospital Bar.
  • The rapids end as we reach the upper reaches of Folsom Lake where a jet ski waits to tow us across the lake to Salmon Falls Take-out and our awaiting shuttle vehicles.
  • Back to camp where you can enjoy a hot shower, snack on some hors d'oeuvres, play volleyball or ping pong, or relax by the  river as our guides prepare a delicious dinner.
  • After dinner you can enyoy a slide show of you rafting followed by a campfire by the river.


  • The next morning after breakfast we board our van(s) for a 1 hour drive to the North Fork put-in at Iowa Hill Bridge. 

  • Whitewater excitement begins just minutes after our launch as the river narrows and we encounter Chamberlain Falls.

  • The Class IV rapids continue for several miles with Zig Zag, Achilles Heal, Bogus Thunder and climaxing with Staircase Falls.
  • The river mellows to Class II and III rapids the last 5 miles as we raft past towering granite cliffs allowing you to appreciate the grand beauty of this spectacular canyon.
  • We take-out at Ponderosa Bridge and return to our camp and the conclusion of our wonderous day of rafting

How to get to the American River

We offer you a selection of ways to get to the American River. The easiest and most popular means of transportation is to drive your own car. Driving directions are detailed below.

Southwest Airlines offers convenient service to Sacramento from many California and Western cities. Rental cars are available at the airport or if you have a group of 10 or more check with EarthTrek about a van or bus shuttle.






DRIVING DIRECTIONS to the American River

 Click here for Google Maps directions


Our South Fork, Middle Fork and North Fork American River trips all meet at the EARTHTREK EXPEDITIONS CAMP in Lotus on the South Fork American. Following are driving directions to our camp.

From Southern California (approximately 7 hours driving time): Take I-5 north to Sacramento and follow the directions below from Sacramento.

From San Francisco Bay Area (2- 2 1/2 hours driving time): Take I-80 east to Sacramento and follow the directions below from Sacramento.

From Redding and the Sacramento Airport: Take I-5 south to Hwy 50 east (freeway sign on I-5 directs you to Fresno) and follow the directions below from Sacramento.

From Sacramento (1 hour driving time): Take Hwy 50 east towards Placerville/Lake Tahoe. Drive about 34 miles to Ponderosa Road (Exit 37)and exit the freeway. At the freeway offramp stop light turn left and cross over the freeway. At the second stop light, just past the freeway, turn right on North Shingle Road. Continue about 11.5 miles (the road becomes Lotus Road at mile 5) until the road deadends at Hwy 49. Turn left on Hwy 49 and cross over the American River Bridge (as you cross over the bridge you'll see our camp and grass lawn on the left). Turn left at the SECOND DRIVE into River Park Village and follow the road down to our gravel parking lot which is behind River Park Village.

From South Lake Tahoe: (1 1/2 hours driving time): Take Hwy 50 west over Echo Summit to Placerville. Turn right (north) on Hwy 49 (Spring Street) and drive about 9 miles thru the historic gold discovery site in Coloma and cross over the American River Bridge. Past the bridge turn left at the SECOND DRIVE into River Park Village and follow the road down to our gravel parking lot.

From Reno or North Lake Tahoe (2-2 1/2 hours driving time): Take I-80 west to Auburn and then take Hwy 49 south. You will cross over the North Fork of the American and then climb to the community of Cool. From Cool,6 miles. Continue on Hwy 49 about 10 more miles to River Park Village, which will be on your right (do not cross over the bridge). Turn right at Yossum's Pizza and follow the road down to our gravel parking lot.

When you arrive at our camp please check in at our camp store or follow the directions posted on our bulletin board in camp. Here you will find information about any camping gear you may have rented and where it is located.

If you are arriving late please observe our quiet hours from 10 PM to 7 AM. If you have an RV you are welcome to park in our lot and sleep in your vehicle but there are no hook ups and please no generators during our quiet hours from 10 PM to 7 AM.

Times and distances are approximate and will vary with traffic, road and weather conditions. Check CalTrans for current road conditions.
  To EarthTrek from  San Diego Anaheim Bakersfield Fresno San Jose San Francisco Redding So Lake Tahoe Reno
  Mileage 548 miles 450 miles 318 miles 212 miles 162 miles 130 miles 205 miles 70 miles 115 miles
  Driving Time 9.25 hrs 7.75 hrs 5.5 hrs 3.75 hrs 3 hrs 1.75 hrs 3.5 hrs 1.75 hrs 2.25 hrs



Questions....and Answers

The South Fork American River is an excellent white water rafting trip for first time rafters but we also recommend it for rafters of all abilities because of its exciting and fun rapids, reliable summer water flows, comfortable camping facilities and economical prices. For experienced rafters looking for more white water action we recommend the Middle Fork and North Fork of the American River.

Excellent rafting is available from April to October on the South Fork American thanks to reliable releases from a several upstream mountain reservoirs. For thrill seekers looking for high water excitement we suggest booking your trip in May to early June when the melting snow is at its peak. Summer months of June, July and August are the most popular times to raft, especially on weekends. If you can schedule your trip during the midweek you will have the advantage of enjoying greater solitude on the river at a lower cost.

The difficulty of a river is classified on a scale of I to VI with I being very easy and VI unrunnable. We have classified the rivers based on normal moderate water flows but during times of high water river, difficulty levels can be increased. We recommend a Class III river for beginning rafters and a Class IV river for experienced rafters looking for more action. Class V river trips are reserved for expert, highly experienced rafters.

On most Class III and IV rivers, self-bailing paddle rafts are used for maximum fun and excitement. Each of the 4-8 passengers has a paddle to help power and maneuver the raft while the guide steers and directs the crew. On high water trips or for passengers with special needs, an oar raft where the guide rows the boat, may be used.

Generally, just about anyone in reasonable health and fitness can go rafting. The minimum age for a child on the Class III South Fork American river (under normal water flows) is 8 years old and a minimum weight of 55 pounds. During times of high water flows we may need to increase the age minimum to 12 or 14, depending on the water level conditions. There is no maximum age although anyone over 60 should be in good health and perhaps consult with your physician if you have any concerns. If you are extremely overweight or have back or heart problems, we do not suggest a raft trip. Due to safety considerations, we are unable to take pregnant women rafting. Swimming skills are not a requirement since your safety jacket will keep you afloat but it is recommended that you not have a fear of the water.

Children 8 and older are welcome on the Class III South Fork American but for families with kids under 8 we offer our non-rafter program where one parent pays full fare for a two day trip and the other parent pays $55 for camping and all meals (except day 1 lunch) and this includes no extra charge for the kids. This program allows one parent to raft the first day and then they can switch and the other parent rafts the second day. This program also applies if you have a non-rafter that just wants to camp and have meals with you, but not raft.

You will be sent a checklist of what to bring when you make a reservation or you can view a checklist on our web site. Basically you will need to bring a sleeping bag, a foam pad or air mattress, and your personal clothing and toiletries. A wet suit is essential during spring trips when the water is cold and the weather is more unpredictable. For participants of EarthTrek operated trips, we can provide low cost rental wet suits, tents, sleeping bags and foam sleeping pads.

A river trip is the perfect activity for a group and we offer discounts to groups starting at only six people. See our web page titled GROUPS for more details. Special rates are also available for youth groups such as Boy Scouts or YMCA.

If you have more questions, simply E-mail us or call EarthTrek Expeditions at (800) 229-8735 and we will be happy to answer them.


What To Bring

On all EarthTrek Expeditions trips all of your gear will remain at our South Fork Camp so you do not have any restrictions on what you can bring. The following list is suggested items. We do not suggest that you bring valuables but if you must we do offer a safe to lock your items during the day or you can lock them in your car and leave your keys in our safe. On the river most people prefer to wear a swimsuit or shorts, tennis shoes without socks and a T-shirt (a T-shirt is good to keep the sun off but a wet cotton T-shirt may give you a chill). You will get wet so dress accordingly.

While on the river

  • PROPER FOOT WEAR that protects your feet. Tennis shoes or wet suit booties are best Teva™ style sandals that securely strap on your feet are OK but they do not give you the best foot protection. Flip-flops or bare feet are NOT allowed on the river.
  • CAP or VISOR with chin strap.
  • SUNGLASSES with secure headstrap such as Croakies™.
  • CHANGE OF CLOTHES for your drive home. Also bring a plastic trash bag for wet shoes and clothes.

If cool or inclement weather is a possibility, we recommend the following items

Items for Camping Overnight

  • SLEEPING BAG compact fiberfill best
  • ENSOLITE FOAM PAD or AIR MATTRESS Comfortable foam pads or cots available for rent
  • PLASTIC GROUND SHEET if sleeping outdoors
  • FLASHLIGHT with extra batteries
  • SUNGLASSES with secure headstrap (Croakies™)
  • TENNIS SHOES 2 pair, 1 for river and dry pair for camp. Wet suit booties for rafting and sandals for camp can be substituted. 
  • PLASTIC TRASH BAG for wet clothes
  • CAMP CLOTHES, T-shirts, long pants, light jacket underwear, etc.

Optional Items

  • TENT, small backpack style best. Available for rent
  • FISHING GEAR license required
  • MUSICAL INSTRUMENT No loud radios or tape players please.

Camping & Lodging


On our two day rafting trips, we include two nights camping. You are allowed to arrive at 6 PM or later on the night before your raft trip. If you arrive prior to 6 PM your camping space or rental tent may not ba available as we need the period prior to 6 PM to clean tents and/or water our lawn. 

As an option, when available, if you would like to arrive the morning of your trip we can substitute your second night of camping for the night after you complete your 2 day trip. Additional nights camping is available for $10/ night per person.

At our camp, EarthTrek will provide meals during your stay. We do not allow individuals to cook their own meals so please do not bring camp stoves for food preperation. There are several restaurants within walking distance of our camp.

Our campground is not equipped for RVs. You are allowed to park your RV in our parking lot and stay in it at night but PLEASE do not run your generator from 10 PM to 7 AM. If you would like to stay at a campground with RV hook-ups check out our links page for a list of campgrounds in our area.

Bring your own tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad or rent what you need from EarthTrek. See below.

Rent one of our deluxe cabin tents to make your whitewater rafting trip with EarthTrek an even better experience. 

CLICK HERE for more information
CLICK HERE for a pdf map of our cabin tents

These unique tents are built on a deck at the rivers edge giving you an unforgettable view of the American River.

 for more information

Our standard dome tents are available in 2 sizes, 2-person and 4-person. Our thick comfortable foam sleeping pads will provide you a good nights sleep. Our sleeping bags come with a freshly launderd cotton liner.

CLICK HERE for more information


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