Colfax-Iowa Hill Road bridge. Put-in (start) for OARS North Fork American Whitewater Rafting trips. The North Fork American River was granted Wild and Scenic status in1978. This classic California whitewater river is free flowing, with spring run-off dependent on Sierra snow pack. This river is typically run from April through May, when the wildflowers are in full bloom. The area around the North Fork of the American River is paradise for hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts.
FLAKE ROCK. There is a 10-foot high knife-edge rock that guards the right side of the entrance to Slaughter’s Sluice rapid.
SLAUGHTER’S SLUICE (III-IV) There are house-sized rocks in this boulder slalom rapid that require attentive paddling. Most of the boulders you see have been rolled downstream by floods and have been caught in the narrow, constricted canyon.
CHAMBERLAIN’S FALLS (IV+) The river funnels into a narrow slot with an eight foot drop, pushing the boat into a big reversal, also known as a hole, at the bottom. You may be caught in a turbulent eddy between the reversal and the left bank.
ZIG ZAG (IV) Lots of tricky boulder dodging and attentive paddling. Start center and move right then quickly back to the left.
FERN WALL. On river left there is a wall of ferns and wildflowers.
BOGUS THUNDER (IV) Another classic North Fork of the American River rapid. This boulder slalom is most difficult at low water when the right side becomes very rocky.
GRAND SLALOM (IV) A collection of very large boulders form a long, technical maze.
STAIRCASE (IV+) There are three river-wide ledges in this rapid. The rapid begins with a drop into some waves, followed by a right ferry aided by slow moving water, followed by a final move to line-up for the drops. Below Staircase rapid are high ledges along both banks that are “hard accumulations of lava with pillow structures, indicating that they were formed on the ocean floor 350 million years ago.”
Canyon Creek, river left.
Indian Creek, river left, leads to a picturesque 30-foot waterfall.
River Access. Shirttail Canyon Creek, river left, just above the Colfax-Foresthill Road bridge.
Brushy Creek, river right.
Big Bend. The river makes a long, horseshoe-shaped bend.
Ponderosa Way Bridge. Take out. Hot/cold drinks and a return shuttle to your vehicle wait at the take-out of your OARS North Fork American River rafting trip.
“What I like the most is knowing I can always rely on OARS to do a great job. The guides are excellent and the trips are always very well organized. I particularly appreciate that OARS pays careful attention to safety. For example, on this trip, I noticed that there was both a safety boat and a rescue kayak. My guide gave an excellent ‘safety talk’ before the trip, and, then, before the most challenging rapids, again emphasized key precautions. I think the North Fork American is a great trip. Even though it’s only a one-day trip, it provides a real sense of wilderness and adventure. I intend to go on the North Fork with OARS again next year.”
–Diane McCarthy ~El Dorado Hills, CA
“The guides were friendly, practiced, and extremely laid back – it really makes all the difference to remember your life is in the hands of the guides and then have really caring, capable people.”
–Mara Flores Naumann