Full day river rafting in Northern California

California is one of the best places in the world to experience the ultimate family fun. There are endless outdoor activities you can do with kids of all ages and I guarantee you will enjoy every minute of it! Weather plays an important role when planning a fun outdoor activity during a long weekend and California offers an excellent climate most of the year. You can make last minute road travel plans and the sun will almost always shine on your side. I always hear California is full of dreamers, I want to live the California dream; well if this is a dream I do not want to wake up yet! Here comes this old famous song California Dreamin’

I always wanted to do river rafting in Peru but for safety reasons my parents wouldn’t allow me to do such a thing. My father used to hear all sort of stories of people being seriously injured while doing river rafting in Cuzco so he wouldn’t support me with my “crazy” adventurous ideas. Unlike Peter, his first river rafting experience was in Thailand years ago when he was 20 years old. He did it on a bamboo raft and he had to take a machete to cut loose from bamboo obstacles in the rapids.

Anyway, coming back to the long memorial weekend I decided it was time to do river rafting here in California so I Googled different places within three hours drive from San Francisco and I came across this tour company called Tributary Whitewater Tours. We were 100% satisfied with this company. The staff are very friendly, well-organized and the instructors are highly qualified. They do all types of rafting from family trips suitable for kids to extreme water rafting for the experts. They do half days,  full days and two days trip. We did a full day trip to make the most of our fairly long drive. The river we went on was the South Fork American River located at 6400 highway 49, Lotus, CA (where the meeting point is). There are different routes depending on various factors. The trip we did was called South Fork American River Rafting – Gorge ‘Lower’ Raft Trip. The pace is fairly gentle to start, with some Class 2 rapids to warm up on, and the guides give paddling instruction. Then we pulled into a camp to have a quite satisfactory lunch (which is included in the price) and after that we launched again. The rafts then enter the steep granite canyon known as the ‘Gorge’ and the rapids occur frequently, with Fowler’s Rock, the Class 3+ Satan’s Cesspool, Bouncing Rock, Hospital Bar and numerous milder but fun rapids. The rafting trip ends at Folsom Lake. We started at 10:30 am and we finished by 5:00 pm. Before we got into the boat, the instructors go through all the safety procedures you need to know. Always keep your feet hooked under the seat for balance. If you fall off the boat try to swim with your feet point downstream and out of the water, so that you can see any approaching rocks and avoid getting a foot trapped in the riverbed. You also need to watch out for the rattle snakes on the river banks and floating branches of poison oak otherwise sit back and enjoy the ride. 

River rafting at the South Fork American River

River rafting at the South Fork American River

Ready for the first picture

Ready for the first picture

I think this was the most scary rafting. Sabrina enjoyed most of the trip but she was certainly petrified in this one.

I think this was the most scary rafting. Sabrina enjoyed most of the trip but she was certainly petrified in this one.

Poor Peter! he got the worst position in the boat! He was the one who got totally soaked!

Poor Peter! he got the worst position in the boat! He was the one who got totally soaked!

Professional photographers shoot from various locales. Obviously they are positions at the most exciting places. You can purchase the photos at Hotshot Imaging just 5 minutes away from the meeting point which is in the small town called Lotus. They are pricey but probably worth buying the full set of photos rather than individually. If this is your first time rafting then I highly recommend you purchase the entire CD. I love every picture because it was our first time! The price for the trip was $134 per person for a full day (including lunch) with a 10% discount for youths under 18, plus there is an 8% government charge called the river fee. It is slightly cheaper if you do it during the week. For more photos see my gallery called North America

A bit of climbing the day before the river rafting in Sacramento

We left home on Saturday morning and we drove to Sacramento first before reaching Auburn where we spent the night before the river rafting. We did some research about what to do with kids in Sacramento and we found Sacramento Pipeworks – a place with an amazing set of climbing structures. There are different type of walls to climb that are perfect for adults and kids alike who wants to develop and improve their climbing skills. There is a 40 foot high lead wall, 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, 2,000 square feet of bouldering and over 70 top and lead ropes. I was tempted to try it but it was so hot in Sacramento I didn’t want to stay sweaty from 3:00 pm. So Sabrina went for it and I was surprised how well she did it! It was tough but she never gave up she tried three different type of walls and she managed to get to the top. She did it for 1 hour with the supervision of an instructor who reassured her all the time that she could do it! He was so helpful with the kids. At the end of it, she said she absolutely loved it and that she felt so good after she finished. So I had a thought, why don’t I give it a try too next time and we could all go for an easy rock climb maybe? After all, we are in California where everything is possible!!!

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