Beginning in the high Sierra Nevadas not far from Lake Tahoe, the American River has three forks: the South, Middle and North. They converge east of Sacramento, but each offers great whitewater rafting, with varying levels of challenge and corresponding class of rapids. For those seeking calmer waters, kayaking is also popular.
The South Fork offers the best rapids for beginners, whereas the North Fork is recommended only for experienced rafters and runs only seasonally. The South Fork of the American River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting destinations in the United States.
There are also more than 100 miles of trails along scenic, historic California Gold Rush sites that are immersed in rich natural forests and native wildlife. Hikers and mountain bikers can explore the area’s tall granite canyons or enjoy the foothills of the Gold Country.
Thanks to its close proximity to San Francisco and Sacramento, the American River makes a great day trip itinerary option. The confluence of the North and Middle forks can be reached by taking Interstate 80 to Highway 49 from Sacramento to the city of Auburn, where a visitor information center greets guests.