The Best Fall Whitewater: American River, California

Best for all-aounders

Oct 1, 2012
Outside Magazine

American River, Californa.    Photo: Mitch Lorens

The American is one of the most diverse rivers in the country. The three forks of this California waterway offer up options for every kind of river running, from quiet Class I floats on the South Fork to creeky Class V sections on the North Fork. In the fall, the Middle Fork is the most consistent stretch of whitewater, because Oxbow Dam, just above the put-in, releases on a regular basis. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can run a rapid in a tunnel. The intimidating-looking Tunnel Chute, which was blasted out by gold miners, is one of the first rapids you hit on the 16-mile whitewater section of the Middle Fork. Another unique river feature is Ruck-a-Chucky falls, a 30-foot drop that involves a mandatory portage.