Whitewater River Rafting Trips

American River

American River North Fork Giant Gap Class IV-V run

This trip is a class IV-V run on the American River North Fork from Euchre Bar to Iowa Hill Bridge, 14.5 miles of river.  This is a two day trip.  One day spent position gear at Euchre Bar.  One day rafting the river.

The 3-mile Giant Gap is a fantastic journey in a deep, vertical-walled gorge with class IV-V rapids.  Below the Gap, hard rapids continue for some time.  Eventually the difficulties ease, and this lower section contains some great playing holes.  Narrow rock walls tower more than 2000 feet above the clear, green stream as it splashes down steep rapids choked by huge boulders.


Mile by Mile Guide of Giant Gap


Mile 0 Euchre Bar bridge Put in
Mile 0-1 Class IV rapids in a scenic gorge
Mile 1-2.5 Green Valley.  The canyon opens up, and the rapids ease.  Several trails lead out of the canyon from the right bank.
Mile 2.5-5.5 Giant Gap.  Here the river has cut a narrow chasm between spectacular 2000 foot walls.  There are several class V rapids in this stretch.  Even experts should make their first trips at flows below 1,000 cfs; above that level, the pools between drops are so swift that rescue is very difficult.  Scott at every opportunity.
Mile 3.2 Nutcracker class V, possible portage.  The river narrows into a violent, rocky, chute.  Scout, and portage if necessary, on the left.
Mile 3.5 Locomotive Falls class V-V+, possible portage.  A sharp six-foot vertical drop into a big reversal.  Scout and portage, if necessary, on the right.  Difficult both to scout and run above 2,000 cfs.
Mile 5 Dominator class V, possible portage.  A complex entry leads to a difficult final drop.  Several possible routes.  Scout, and portage if necessary, on the right
Mile 5.5 Canyon Creek enters on the right.   There are several waterfalls a short hike up the creek.  Excellent lunch spot.
Mile 5.5-5.7 Class IV and V rapids continue to Tommy Cain Ravine.
Mile 6 Pickering Bar (left bank).   A trail leads out from the right bank.
Mile 6.6-13.9 Fine scenery and class III and V rapids.
Mile 7 Tommy Cain Ravine.  A trail leads out from the right.
Mile 13.9 Pin Ball class IV+.  A tough technical test at a left-hand bend.  Around the corner the bridge comes into view.
Mile 14.2 Take out, Colfax Iowa Hill bridge.

General Information

Flows on this river vary greatly from 200 CFS in the summer to over 10,000 CFS in the winter and spring months. The river is runable for a raft at flows over 1,000 CFS. At flows of 1,000 to 4,000 CFS the river is a class IV run, at flows over 4,000 CFS the river turns into a class V run. This river is only run in the winter and spring months during the snow runoff.

This trip is a "helmet" (class IV) run. When you are told to put on your helmets and life vests the helmets and life vests are to stay on and buckled up until you are told it is all right to take them off.

Water temperatures during the fall, winter and spring months fall below 50 degrees F and a wetsuit or dry suit are required. This trip will almost always require a full-length wet suit or dry suit, booties and full-length gloves. There is a combination of public and private lands (mining claims on BLM land). We have to be especially careful of the mining claims. The laws regarding the mining claims on public lands are "fuzzy" and open to interpretation. We must show respect for any private property along the river. We have the right to access the banks of the river up to the high water mark, whether it is public or private property, to portage the rafts and scout the river.

This trip is a class IV run and unlike the class III runs helmets are required. This trip is far more strenuous and longer then the trips on the south fork. This trip is not for the first time rafter. For this trip it is required that you have made at least one class III run before. This trip requires a greater level of teamwork, discipline and cooperation. For this trip it is required that you be in above average health and general physical condition.

Notes / Agenda:

Iowa Hill road is off Canyon Way at the Colfax exit on highway 80. We leave the trucks at Iowa Hill Bridge and take off on the river for Alta and Euchre Bar Trail.

Pre-positioning of gear: The raft and other gear is pre-positioned at the bottom of Euchre Bar trail.  The pre-positioning of gear is a whole day trip.  Volunteers are needed to help pre-position the gear.  There will be some other exploration and site seeing on the pre-positioning trip you will not experience on the rafting trip.   Some of the pre-positioning sites that we will see is Lovers Leap, Dorer Ranch and old mining ruins from 1905.




4:45 a.m. Meet at my house
5:30 a.m. 45 minutes Drive to Colfax Iowa Hill bridge - Drop off take out vehicles
6:00 a.m. 30 minutes Drive to Alta
6:30 a.m. 45 minutes Top of trail - Change into wet gear and pack gear
7:15 a.m. 45 minutes Hike down trail
8:00 a.m. 90 minutes Bottom of trail
9:30 a.m. 600 minutes Float the boat
7:30 p.m. 60 minutes Arrive at Iowa Hill bridge and pack the gear
8:30 p.m. 30 minutes Drive to Alta
9:00 p.m. 60 minutes Drive to Sacramento
10:00 p.m. Arrive in Sacramento