River Rafting

Parent Reviews

RE: Fun overnight trip with teens? ()

If you teens are more adventure-seeking, you could try river rafting or cave exploring. There are beginning trips for an afternoon on the South Fork of the American River that are more like floating. My thrill-seeker recently went on the daylong raft trip on the Middle Fork of the American and he rated it an 8 out of 10! Another outdoor adventure activity he likes is cave exploring at Moaning Caverns or California Caverns. Both activities are with a few hours of the Bay Area. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Whitewater rafting camp for teens

May 2014

My 16-year-old son would love to go to a sleep away camp that focuses on whitewater rafting. Can't seem to find one online. Anyone know of such an animal? Kid who wants to get wet

Please look into ARTA (http://www.arta.org/). They are a nonprofit rafting company that has week-long junior training trips in CA and UT for teens. My son did the UT trip 4 years ago when he was 15. He absolutely loved it. He went rafting with the company the following year in Idaho and then took the real guide training course with them last year when he was 18. He may be guiding this summer. As a parent, I couldn't be more comfortable with the company.Tell them I recommended them. Linda B

YMCA Camp Jones Gulch has a teen adventure/travel camp that may be just what you're looking for! I just found out about this camp yesterday and signed my 14 year old adventure seeking boy up for 2 weeks. Camp is based near Big Sur and transportation to and from the Bay Area is $40 if you need it.

Here's the White Water rafting camp description: ''White Water Rafting Adventure (Session 3; $695.00 July 6-11) Entering grades 7-12 . In a high adrenaline adventure, thrill seeking teens rally inflatable rafts down the Middle Fork of the American River. Experience impressive rapids down miles of crystal clear water. Between rafting we will explore areas around James Marshall Park, go mountain biking, and enjoy access to a beautiful swimming pool and natural river swimming hole. Swimming proficiency is recommended but not mandatory.'' www.ymcasf.org/campjonesgulch/what_we_offer/youth_and_teens/teen_adventure_camp Each week has a different theme. They all look great and I see good reviews online. Best of all it's pretty cheap for sleepaway camp and everything is included. tjda

River rafting with our teenager

March 2004

We middle-aging parents and our teenager would like to spend a couple of days in August within a half-day's drive of the East Bay where we could do a couple of half-day or three-quarter-day semi-challenging guided rafting trips, plus maybe some trail riding or other kind of fun, active land activity. Would like specific recommendations for locations, guide companies, etc. -- also places to stay nearby and restaurants. Thanks! Shar

Friends of ours, Mel and Scott, own and run River and Rock Adventures (http://www.riverandrockadventures.com/) near Coloma on the South Fork of the American River. They offer a number of rafting options from 1/2 day trips to 2 day trips geared towards families (and have 2 small boys of their own). We went rafting with them two summers ago and had a great time. They have camping available but can probably recommend nearby motels if you would prefer that. Check out their website for more information. Happy rafting! Cindy

Shar, I have done a bunch of rafting trips up on the American, near Lotus, CA. The Middle Fork is the best for beginners. I have also done the North Fork twice which is for more advanced rafters. There are about 30 companies up there. I would recommend Whitewater Voyages owned by Bill McGinnis. Very experienced. Very nice job. www.whitewatervoyages.com, I think. klevenson

Hello: I feel compelled to correct an earlier statement: the Middle Fork is NOT best for beginners, the South Fork IS. The Middle Fork is rated Class IV, out of V, while the South Fork is a Class III. In addition, the Middle Fork has a rapid that is so difficult that all rafters must walk around the rapid (called a ''portage''). Class III is fun, but not dangerous, and is plenty exciting and great for kids. The North Fork, also mentioned by a previous poster, is rated Class V, and should definitely NOT be a choice for kids, or those without some previous rafting experience. Do have fun and enjoy, there is nothing quite like rafting to make your spirits soar!!! River Guide Mommy

River rafting with 8 - 10 year olds

August 2003

Wondering if anyone in the digest community has positive experiences to recommend regarding river rafting with kids in the 8 - 10 year old range. Would especially appreciate the name of a reliable, experienced river rafting company with trips within reasonably close driving range to the Bay Area (such as the American River) and one that has experience with trips for kids would, of course, be best. Thanks so much. Future River Rafters

My wife and I took our nearly 8-year-old daughter on a half-day rafting trip on the American River this summer. The company was Gold Rush River Rafting. We got drenched; we had a blast. The guides let her ''paddle'' for part of the trip. Remember to wear a bathing suit, T-shirt and tight-fitting hat, and bring a change of clothes. Allen

Turtle River Rafting Company is great with small children (age 4 and up). http:/ /www.turtleriver.com/ My family started with them when my children were little and then graduated to ARTA.

Trip in the Sierra with 7 year old April 2003

I'm seeking tips on river-rafting tour companies in the Sierra. We're hoping for a one-day trip on a fairly easy river (our daughter is 7, swims well and loves water), preferably with a stop for swimming. The American seems like a good candidate, but we're open to other rivers. Allen

Hooray for you! I can't wait to introduce my children to rafting - aged 2.5 and 8 mos, so I have a bit to wait :-) It is a wonderful activity to share with your family.

The South Fork of the American is the standard, accessible river commonly run around here. There are several outfits that service the S. Fork American, all are pretty reputable, and there really isn't that much to distinguish them, except for the ''non- traditional'' outfits. Examples: Outdoors Unlimited at UCSF and Friends of the River both run trips to the American, but are not traditional rafting companies. With OU, your money goes to support other outdoor activities at UCSF, and at FOR, your money goes to protecting rivers. Both great outfits. (conflict of interest disclaimer: I learned to guide at OU, and used to guide for them regularly, until my little ones arrived on the scene).

There are also other rivers to try: No. Fork American: more difficult, but I believe there is a shorter run that is pretty easy; Trinity River, down south; East Fork of the Carson, East side Sierra; Klamath River, up north; etc. Most of these runs are either much farther away, or have much shorter seasons. So, for a first time, your best advice is the American.

Hope you have a great trip! Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.

Sign me: can't wait to get back on the river! kelly

I recommend you contact Turtle River Rafting company for a family rafting trip. They are a great, very family oriented company. 1-800-726-3223. They may have one day trips. Regarding the American River. Most people go down the South Fork of the American River, which is a class III river. It may be too festive for a 7 year old and scare her. There is a class II run on the South Fork American. Ask them about that. JoAnne

I've been river-rafting for twenty-five years and have rafted the American River probably close to a hundred times (including working as guide for a commercial outfitter). The South Fork of the American is a good candidate for you to consider. There are two sections -- commonly called the Upper and Lower (or Gorge) section. The minimum age for most of the commercial outfitters is 8...but if your daughter is a good swimmer and comfortable with the water, she should do fine. I would recommend you do the Lower (Gorge) section. The first couple of hours is very calm water, giving you (and everyone else on the raft) time to get used to paddling. On the Upper section, the more exciting Class III whitewater comes fairly soon after putting in.

Other options for Northern California river trips that are do-able with a seven year old include Cache Creek and sections of the Klamath. But there are far fewer commercial outfitters offering trips on those rivers.

The company I used to work for (on weekends) is a great company. It's one of the largest (in California), they have an excellent safety record, and do a good job. They're called All Outdoors and they can be reached at 925-932-8993.

Have a great time! We took our (then) five-year old on her first trip last summer on the Rogue River up in Oregon and she loved it. Berkeley dad