California is known for its water sports. Surfing, stand up paddle boarding, kitesurfing, kayaking, and boating are all common occurrences here in the Golden State. But there is one more on the list, and the secret is out: whitewater rafting. California has some of the best rivers in the country to try this thrilling and fast-paced sport. So, hang on tight, because this is the low down on rafting in California.
There are many rivers in the state, but some of the best rafting is done on the
American River. This river has a few sections, called forks. Certain forks can be rafted certain times of the year, for example, the Middle Fork season starts in spring and continues to Labor Day. The season for the South Fork begins in spring as well and continues into October with weekend trips. Other popular California rivers are the Kern, Russian and Tuolumne rivers, as well as Cherry Creek.
What to Expect
Rapids are categorized into classes depending on their strength and intensity. Class one is the easiest with smooth water and clear passages down the river. Class six is the most challenging and dangerous and should not be attempted unless an Olympic-level expert.
The water level is another critical aspect of rafting and an important one for safety. This system dictates how fast a river is flowing and how intense the rapids will be. These range from ‘L’ for low water levels to ‘F’ for flooded. Guided tours are the best way to experience whitewater rafting, especially for beginners. They have the advantage of intimate knowledge of the river and its seasons and time-tested tour guides who know the rapids and are trained to handle possible emergencies.
Besides expertise, tour outfits provide all the necessary equipment for safely and comfortably getting down the river. Besides the actual raft, there are wetsuits and booties for warmth, paddles and life jackets to consider. The tour company will have sizes to fit most people from children to adults. Rafting tours come in a variety of experiences, from five miles to over 20 and can range from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Lunch is included on the day trips, but not for half-day trips Inquire with the company about what tours are on offer to see which the best fit is.
Get Out There and Get Wet
The South Fork of the American river is one of the most popular spots to whitewater raft, and probably the best for beginners. With a little previous experience, the Middle Fork is the best to tackle next to hone those rafting skills. There is a lot to consider when planning a solo or family rafting trip. There are many great tour companies ready to assist in deciding which class of rapids and how long of a trip fit the budget and time frame. California has many stunning rivers, valleys, and wild spaces on offer. It’s time to get out there and make the most of life.