White Water Rafting California: Visit And Enjoy Today

White Water Rafting California

Uncover California's white water raft trips like the American River and more in our rafting destination list.

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Are you planning to try white water rafting California?

What makes this such a great location for rafting?

How does it compare to other states?

California is an excellent place to go whitewater rafting. There are tons of rivers to choose from, and many include rapids of different classes to appeal to everyone in your group, too.

When you’re thinking about going rafting in California, there are plenty of locations to keep in mind. Check out our list of top recommendations below to help you find the perfect destination for your next whitewater rafting adventure.

Option #1. Cal Salmon River

Difficulty: Difficulty
Price: $$$
Location: Redding, California

Duration of trips available:

  • This river includes a one-day option.

Raft for 12 miles through Class IV and Class V rapids on this exciting adventure.

Pros

  • The river is packed with lots of drops and rapids to enjoy.
  • Most trips include lunch.

Cons

  • Guests must be 15 or older for this river.
  • Only experienced rafters will be allowed to raft this river.

Option #2. Cherry Creek

Difficulty: Difficulty
Price: $$$
Location: Yosemite

Duration of trips available:

  • Take a tour on this river as a full-day trip.

This river is known as one of the most difficult and intense commercial whitewater rafting experiences in the country. Guests should be very experienced before tackling Cherry Creek.

Pros

  • This river includes 15 Class V rapids and several more Class IV along the nine mile stretch of water.
  • There is an incredible eight-foot drop on this river.

Cons

  • Guests should be 18 years old before riding these rapids.
  • Guests absolutely must undergo an intense orientation even if they have prior experience, which can be off-putting to some.

Option #3. Goodwin Canyon

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Price: $$$
Location: Stanislaus River

Duration of trips available:

  • When booking this river, you will only be able to select a one-day trip.

This part of the larger Stanislaus includes Class III rapids and a couple of Class IV locations to challenge moderately skilled rafters.

Pros

  • This choice is a hidden gem usually enjoyed by locals.
  • This portion of the white water raft in California river is beautiful, scenic, and fun.

Cons

  • This canyon is only open for rafting for a few weeks out of the year.
  • Trips book up very far in advance.

Option #4. Kaweah River

Difficulty: Difficult
Price: $$$$
Location: Sequoia National Park

Duration of trips available:

  • Choose a duration of a half-day or full-day on this river.

The Kaweah River includes nonstop rapids of Class IV and higher for those seeking thrills and adventures. With plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy, this is a must-do for rafting lovers.

Pros

  • The river allows guests to see amazing mountainous scenery.
  • Most adventures include lunch.

Cons

  • Guests must be at least 15 or possibly older depending on the water levels.
  • This option is a very intense and challenging ride.

Option #5. Kern River

Difficulty: Moderate
Price: $$$$$
Location: Wofford Heights, California

Duration of trips available:

  • This river offers half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips.

With put-ins just a few hours away from LA, the Kern River is a good choice for vacationers looking to get out in nature.

Pros

  • Most companies offer solo and group trips on this river.
  • There are plenty of guided tours available.

Cons

  • These trips are pricey compared to some others.
  • Trips may book up fast.

Option #6. Klamath River

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Price: $
Location: Siskiyou County, California

Duration of trips available:

  • When you plan to raft on this river.

The Klamath River offers a lower and an upper section so you can find the best fit for your needs and preferences. This beautiful river is scenic and exciting.

Pros

  • This offer is an off-the-beaten-path river location.
  • The upper river is Class IV+ and the lower is Class II-III.

Cons

  • There are very few guided tours available on this river.
  • There is not a lot of rental equipment available here, either.

Option #7. Merced River

Difficulty: Moderate
Price: $$$
Location: Yosemite Valley

Duration of trips available:

  • Make plans to spend a half-day, full-day, or multi-day trip on this river.

Merced River in the Yosemite Valley provides beautiful experiences for families and experienced rafters to enjoy.

Pros

  • Longer trips have plenty of thrills for those who want a challenge.
  • There are plenty of kid-friendly trips on this river.

Cons

  • Water levels may be too low at some times of the year to raft safely.
  • Not all companies include add-ons for this river.

Option #8. North Fork American River

Difficulty: Difficult
Price: $$$
Location: Folsom, California

Duration of trips available:

  • Enjoy your time on the water for half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips.

This trip is a must-see for rafters in California. It’s difficult and tricky, but it’s an exciting opportunity to see the sights and ride the rapids through California, too.

Pros

  • Companies include trips on different parts of this river to provide unique experiences to all rafters.
  • This trip is challenging even for experienced rafters.

Cons

  • Guests must be at least 14 to ride this river.
  • Trips may be canceled due to lower water levels.

Option #9. Stanislaus River

Difficulty: Difficult
Price: $$$
Location: Arnold, California

Duration of trips available:

  • Check out this whitewater rafting in California trip for half-day or full-day adventures.

Those looking for an intense river adventure are sure to enjoy the Stanislaus River. This trip involves several Class IV rapids that require a lot of experience and knowledge in order to maneuver properly.

Pros

  • This river moves through some of the giant sequoia trees in California for some amazing scenery.
  • The trip is great for thrill-seekers.

Cons

  • This is very cold water most of the year.
  • The trip is only available to ages 16 and up.

Option #10. Trinity River

Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Price: $$
Location: Big Flat, California

Duration of trips available:

  • Choose a trip length of a half-day or a full-day when you go for Trinity River.

The Trinity River includes several exciting rapids that families and experienced rafters alike are sure to enjoy. With a nice, central location, it’s easy to reach this area from other popular destinations in the vicinity, too.

Pros

  • The river includes rapids from Class II through Class V, so there’s something for everyone.
  • There are plenty of companies and trips available on this river.

Cons

  • Some trips may be very crowded during the busy season.
  • There are some risks involved on these rapids.

Option #11. Tuolumne River

Difficulty: Difficult
Price: $$$$$
Location: Yosemite National Park

Duration of trips available:

  • This exciting rafting experience is available in one-day, two-day, or three-day trips.

The Tuolumne River is an intense rapids ride in the Yosemite National Park. This choice is 18 miles long and includes nearly nonstop Class IV rapids.

Pros

  • This option is a must-see for experienced rafters.
  • Trips include lots of sightseeing and chances to relax among the rapids.

Cons

  • These trips can be costly.
  • These trips are only for ages 16 and up due to difficulty levels.

Discover White Water Rafting In California And Enjoy

When is the best time of year to go rafting in California? Generally speaking, June through October is your best bet. However, you can usually enjoy your rafting trip if you plan to go within a month of these dates, too. Keep in mind that weather conditions vary from year to year, and this is only an estimate.

Here are some reasons to consider going during the peak season:

  • During peak season, there are more companies operating tours and therefore more options for booking available.
  • Peak season includes the best weather in California, so for your best chances at nice conditions, plan to go during this time of the year.
  • Most of the time, the water levels aren’t too low and trips don’t need to be canceled when booked during peak season.

And here are some downsides to going when the weather is best:

  • When you go during peak season, the waters may be very crowded and it can be difficult to truly enjoy yourself.
  • You may have trouble finding lodging at a reasonable price or any available campground spots when you go during peak season.
  • Visiting during peak season may make travel costs go up as well.

Keep all this in mind when you’re planning when to make your trip to California for the best rafting adventures around!

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