About the Trip
The Middle Fork of the American is a collection of the pristine waters flowing from the Granite Chief and Desolation Wilderness areas. Long considered a Sierra classic, the Middle Fork flows through miles of densely forested wilderness canyon-lands of the Tahoe National Forest. During the Gold Rush the Middle Fork was one of the most popular areas in all of California. Miners flocked here by the tens of thousands from all over the world, seeking their fortunes in gold. In 1889, the miners actually constructed a tunnel through the hillside and diverted the entire river. The diversion made that part of the riverbed dry and was reported to be one of the “richest diggins” ever. The resulting tunnel provides us with one of the most unique adventures in rafting. This run gets its popularity from its consistent water releases and the ever-present challenge of the famous Tunnel Chute Rapid. Despite these man-made entities this run is definitely a wilderness experience. Isolated from civilization, the river carves its way through steep canyon ridges with notorious eye-opening and adrenaline-pumping rapids like Last Chance, Sidewinder, Cathedral, Kanaka Falls, Chunder, and Ruck-A-Chucky Falls. Several creeks offer the chance of a side hike, swimming holes, your own piece of paradise, and the chance to see an abundance of wildlife such as eagles, bear, bobcat, otter, and giant native trout.
We will gear up at the meeting area and load into the shuttle vehicle for a 45-minute ride to the put-in. After the river safety talk, we will shove off directly into Alarm Clock rapid. At the bottom of this rapid, we are joined by the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. We will continue through several more Class III & IV rapids as we close in on Tunnel Chute, an 18-foot drop in a narrow 80-foot chute of granite. The force of this rapid pushes us into an underground tunnel to emerge into daylight 150 feet downstream. Leaving this unforgettable experience we will enjoy more Class III & IV rapids before pulling over on a sandy beach for our gourmet lunch. The river’s mood changes here, our helmets are off, and our thoughts are no longer concentrated on rapids. We enjoy all the beauty and seclusion the river canyon offers. After a few miles of calmer waters, we approach, with increasing intensity, Ruck-A-Chucky Falls. We run Chunder Rapid and pull over above a true Class VI cataract. Here we begin a 30-minute portage around this spectacular 30-foot waterfall. Once back in the boats we are faced with more of the river’s most challenging Class III & IV rapids. All too soon the excitement ends and we find ourselves at the take-out. Time permits a brief reflection of our experiences before we head out of the canyon on a rugged dirt road. We arrive back at our cars in the late afternoon.
During our 2 and 3-day expeditions, at the meeting area we will provide you with waterproof bags for your overnight gear. The multi-day trips are specially designed for the “extra” wilderness experience. We will have a gear boat that carries all of your personal gear along with a full kitchen and safety down the river. You will spend the night under a starry sky and enjoy a gourmet hot dinner. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to share your stories from the day and relax next to the campfire. We encourage you to bring your guitar and play a bit of music at camp. In the morning, wake up to the aroma of coffee and pack up your camp while we cook breakfast for you. Once all the gear is packed up, we begin our float. In the first part of the day, the river is tranquil. You will have the opportunity to listen to the birds sing while drifting along. It is a good warm up for the significant rapids that are just ahead.
The Middle Fork of the American has a lot to offer. On the 2 and 3-day trips, we encourage you to bring along your fishing gear. Well-known for sizable Rainbow and Brown Trout, the Middle Fork has it all. We also offer guided fishing trips. Our guides have been fishing the Middle Fork for many years and know how to get you to the “honey hole”. During these trips, we allow just 2 guests per raft giving you a personal and successful experience. This combination of whitewater and fishing makes the Middle Fork of the American one of the best trips available.